A young Maltese entrepreneur was driven by a will to succeed and expand their start-up… but then their world came crashing down in the blink of an eye due to events completely out of their control.
Does this story sounds familiar? It very well might do, because it’s what so many people went through over the past few chaotic months.
Take Roberta, a 27-year-old Maltese woman who didn’t come from a wealthy family but whose passion and business nous were just starting to lead her places.
Back in March, Roberta felt as though she had the world at her fingertips. After spending a few years working for a Maltese company, she decided to follow her dreams and set up her own digital marketing agency.
Things started off a bit slowly, before a friend of hers encouraged her to join the Young Chamber Network for young entrepreneurs, a chance for her to network with like-minded people.
There she was introduced to the Chamber of Commerce’s economic vision for Malta’s future, which included an entire section on the need to digitise the island, as well as the importance of improving good governance.
Right up her alley, Roberta formally joined the Chamber, where she was exposed to innovative business ideas and bumped into Martina, who had a fair deal of experience in digital marketing herself.
A few conversations later and Roberta convinced Martina to join her fledgling enterprise.
The start-up started gaining steam, business started coming in, and Roberta decided to hire Ben, a young but passionate graduate. It felt as though things could only get better.
And then the thunderbolt that is COVID-19 struck the world…
“Surely it’s just a passing thing,” Roberta told herself, as businesses and the airport were forced to close down and the streets started to resemble those of a ghost town.
Then one of her top clients announced he had to close down his company, others cancelled or postponed their orders one by one, and her ledger book started to look more and more worrying.
Roberta tried to keep a positive spirit, but she knew what Martina and Ben were thinking… a few more weeks of this and they’d be out of a job.
As the world seemingly imploded, the Chamber announced a think tank on how to save the economy in a post-pandemic world. With nothing else to lose, Roberta applied for a seat and was placed in the ‘Digital and Media’ category, one of twelve round tables, each representing a different economic niche.
Some of her friends were there, as well as several business leaders she admired. All had scared and anxious looks on their faces.
However, when the brainstorming actually started, it seemed as though everyone left their worries by the door; apocalyptical thoughts were sidelined in favour of a serious discussion.
It wasn’t long before ideas started flowing – from potential schemes and grants to more long-term changes in government policy.
Then Roberta herself was hit by a brainwave, an entire business re-engineering scheme to not only help companies weather the COVID-19 storm but to become more efficient and future-proof overall.
Other businesspeople helped her tweak this idea, and together they submitted it to the Chamber along with several other proposals.
The Chamber loved Roberta’s proposal and decided to adopt it as its official policy, including it in a document that it presented to the government ahead of its first post-COVID-19 Budget.
We will find out in a few days time whether the government has accepted this proposal and whether an idea generated by the mind of a young businesswoman will make its way to Maltese law.
Roberta is your typical Young Chamber Network member and her story reflects that of several businesspeople whose lives were thrown out of balance in the wake of the pandemic.
Propped up by a strong sense of belonging to the vibrant business community that is the Chamber, businesspeople who are actively involved in the Chamber gathered around the table to discuss how to adapt to a post-COVID-19 world, and the Chamber of Commerce took several of their proposals on board and lobbied the government for their implementation
Some have already become national policy and more are expected to do so when the Budget is announced later this month.
In existence for 172 years, the Chamber provides a platform for all types of enterprise – from large corporations to the self-employed – to come together and discuss potential policies that can boost their businesses and the Maltese economy in general.
The Chamber then formulates these policies into documents and presents them to the government. As the voice of so many businesses, when the Chamber speaks, the government pays attention.
And it’s been speaking a lot of late. Besides launching an economic vision and good governance manifesto earlier this year, it took an active role during the COVID-19 crisis, setting up a think tank and grouping its members into policy groups according to their economic niche.
These proposals were discussed at a special Cabinet meeting held at the Chamber’s premises and many are expected to be included in the government’s upcoming Budget.
So how do you go about becoming a Chamber member?
The Chamber offers two types of membership – a corporate membership which allows a single company to nominate several representatives, and an individual membership, applicable for anyone with business interests in Malta.
You will get to select your business niche, and the themes you are most interested in discussion – such as the circular economy, internationalisation, governance, family businesses and sustainable mobility, to mention a few.
Membership comes with full voting rights, and fees are listed on the forms, which can found here.
“We pride ourselves on being the voice of business,” the Chamber’s CEO Ing. Edward Chetcuti explained. “We want to offer an opportunity for all businesses, no matter how big or small, and we want to give them assistance and a chance to amplify their voice.”
By joining the Chamber of Commerce, that’s exactly the chance you and your business will be given.