Thursday, 26 July 2007

The Anguilla Chamber of Commerce and Industry Triumphs!

I am the Editor, Writer and Photographer for the Anguilla Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACOCI) Newsletter. This week I took the camera along to a Celebratory Networking Meeting at the lovely Zurra restaurant on the new golf course in the West End of the island.

Celebratory because the Chamber has just won a major award, Best Project from a Chamber in a Developing Country, and was placed as a finalist for a second award, Best Membership Recruitment Project, at the Fifth World Chambers Competition in Turkey. This competition is held every two years by the World Chambers Federation (WCF) and, according to 'Commerce International', it is the only global awards programme to recognise innovative projects undertaken by Chambers of Commerce and Industry from all over the world. The WCF’s mission ‘is to encourage Chamber excellence and dynamism while fostering information exchange and business development’.

The Anguillian Business Community has a well known individualistic attitude. The Chamber has always faced challenges in recruiting members and showing its value to the economic development of Anguilla. Slowly the Chamber has grown, from its inception in the late 1970’s to the point in 2006 when it boasted 60 supporting members. In 2007 the Chamber formed a private-public partnership with the Government of Anguilla resulting in the incorporation of all government registered businesses as standard members of the Chamber of Commerce. As a result of the agreement, membership increased to 1,100. A proportion of the Business License fees that registered businesses pay to the Government is now paid to the Chamber. The Chamber is proud of this agreement which is seen as a unique working relationship between the Public and Private Sector.

This idea is original and innovative and has been recognised by the Award of Best Project from a Chamber in a Developing Country. This award is a new category, added for the 2007 Competition, and recognises an exceptional project that demonstrates achievement and success in a challenging business environment. The Chamber was also a Finalist in another category, Best Membership Recruitment Project.

This places the Anguilla Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Top 21 Most Innovative Chambers of Commerce and Industry in the World. This achievement has created new opportunities for the Chamber to explore new niche markets, establish new partnerships and launch new initiatives to support small and medium businesses which will benefit the local economy. This is a fantastic achievement of which its members should be proud.

The Anguillian Chief Minister and Finance Minister were invited to join Chamber members in a celebration of the awards on Tuesday 24 July. It was disappointing when they did not turn up. Indeed attendance at the celebration was generally low. It would seem that everyone outside of Anguilla recognises the Anguilla Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s value, but Anguillians are still less enamoured. It will take much more than the winning of a Major International Award to break into the hearts of many Anguillians.

Those who came to the meeting were addressed by the Chamber’s President, John Benjamin, who was elated by the award, and by Calvin Bartlett, the Executive Director, who thanked the sponsors who enabled the journey to Turkey to be undertaken, the volunteers who make the Chamber tick and all those who made winning the award possible. Members of the local Press and Television Company were present to record the event for a wider audience and for posterity. All attendees enjoyed being wined and dined expertly by Zurra staff and much networking in a friendly atmosphere went on.

The photgraph shows Calvin Bartlett, Executive Director of the Anguilla Chamber of Commerce and Industry, with the Winner's Plaque for Best Project from a Chamber in a Developing Country.

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