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SVGCIC still having membership, financial problems – Regisford

SVGCIC still having membership, financial problems – Regisford


Despite the fact that the St Vincent and the Grenadines Chamber of Industry and Commerce (SVGCIC) is an important organization that can drive business success and growth, membership continues to be a huge problem for the organization.

And with inadequate membership comes financial issues.{{more}}

“We seem not to be able to articulate a compelling narrative or offer a compelling value proposition to attract businesses en masse,” said executive director (ED) of the SVGCIC Anthony Regisford last Thursday, while addressing the Annual General Meeting (AGM), which was held at Frenches House.

Stressing that the Chamber is regarded as a noble institution that represents the interests of the private sector, while being the go-to institution when stakeholder organizations and other parties want to engage the private sector, Regisford said that the institution still has membership and financial problems.

“Be it Central Government or government agencies, foreign embassies, WTO, IMF, IFC, World Bank, ECCB, Compete Caribbean, Caribbean Export, institutions that represent academia, other NGO’s and indeed the general public; they all recognize the Chamber as the first point of contact for engaging the private sector…still, with all of that brand equity, the Chamber continues to struggle to grow its membership,” said the ED, while addressing a wide cross-section of the business community that attended the AGM.

Regisford said that in his opinion, the task to grow membership will continue to loom large against the backdrop of the Chamber’s own financial challenges and this is a bit of a paradoxical situation from which the SVGCIC has to find an escape.

“…the challenge here being, with a small membership base, we lack the leverage to effectively raise finances and with little finances, we are severely hampered in offering a compelling value proposition to attract members,” said Regisford.

He said that despite the problems, the outgoing president Christine DaSilva and the Council must be applauded, “for keeping the ship afloat on the raging seas of declining or flat membership and severely limited finances.”

DaSilva was on Thursday replaced by Wayne Hull as president. Hull is the country manager at LIME.

Regisford said that in the 21 months that he has held the post of executive director, the president (DaSilva) and council have enabled him to plug a few holes in this metaphorical ship.

“We have recognized the significance of restating our relevance and have identified a number of actions to achieve that status,” said Regisford, who noted events like their two cocktail parties and five luncheons that were held, being intended to drive Chamber revenues, while delivering on their mandate of disseminating relevant information and enabling fruitful discussion.

He added also that their training workshops and seminars were successful and through these, they recognize that there is a developmental need for the Chamber to engage in much more business related training workshops, colloquiums and seminars, with the objective of building capacity for members’ respective businesses, fostering a better business climate and helping start-ups and entrepreneurs to get moving in the right direction.

Regisford stressed that in his opinion, there is real opportunity for the private sector to help shape national policy and to effectively achieve that, they need a membership base that will encompass the range of businesses, from start-ups to established businesses.

“We need more objectivity and less cynicism. We need to be apolitical. We need to be cognizant of the national development imperatives and understand our role in this regard. We need to grasp the concept of doing good for our community, while doing well in business. If we don’t balance our business growth ambitions with the growth of the community as a whole, then we will be the architects of a dissonant society – a veritable Animal Farm,” said Regisford.