Chamber of Commerce

What is a chamber of commerce?

It is a network made up of different businesses within a state or other geographical region whose main goal is to advocate and further the interests of its members. But who is in a chamber of commerce? The organisation is made up of different businesses; irrespective of size, industry, sector, ownership structure and governance structure.

How does a chamber of commerce help businesses?

It is tasked with advocating for the improvement of the environment within which the businesses operate. This includes advocating for improved physical infrastructure, ease of doing of business, access to capital and other resources. The chamber also organises training programs for its members where they are equipped with knowledge and skills to improve their business operations. The training programs may impart soft skills such as leadership and change management or they can train on technical aspects of business such as accounting, financial planning and many more.

With respect to different policies set around the business environment and operations, the chamber advocates for better policies as well as the revision of existing policies. While they may not always succeed, most of the time, they are consulted before policies are passed or revised as part of stakeholder involvement by regulatory authorities.

They also organise networking sessions where members get to interact with each other, learn from each other and create networks that will enhance their operations as well as their personal lives. Businesses that are associated with the chamber can get referrals from the chamber and this enhances business operations and success. Some chambers also offer different advisory services to their members with respect to government regulation, compliance with taxation policies through tax consultants, marketing their services within and beyond their geographical locations and legal issues.

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How does a chamber of commerce work?

Members opt in to the chamber and they may be required to pay an annual membership fee that enhances the operations of the organisation. The member businesses then elect officials on a predetermined frequency who oversee their operations. These officials are usually referred to as board members and they are tasked with representing the interests of the business community to the government, investors associations and other bodies.

What else can help businesses?

Besides relying on the Chamber for help, different businesses can also join organisations that drive business for their specific industry. For example, a manufacturing company can join the association of manufacturers in their state or region. These associations usually highlight different opportunities your business could take advantage of, the risks facing the sector and how to tackle them, the application of different laws and policies in day to day operations and capacity building for their members.

Clubs and associations are also a great way for businesses to build their capacity, improve their service delivery and network with peers in their industry or other sectors of the economy. These clubs and associations may require membership or they may open their operations to all businesses irrespective of their membership status.

Business is in itself a tough call for most people. By joining associations, clubs or even the local chapter of the chamber of commerce and industry, you acquire networks and skills that could help you navigate the murky world of business successfully.