Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 February, 2021 at 9:51 am by Andre Camilleri
• Selected from a total of 250 applications submitted by civil society organisations
• The entry submitted by the Maltese Chamber is among 23 projects from the EU and the UK that have received the award for their outstanding contribution to fighting COVID-19 and its disastrous consequences.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has awarded the Civil Solidarity Prize to the Malta Chamber of SMEs for its support to SMEs during the uncertain COVID-19 times. The chamber moved its usual services online and stepped up its provision with a series of webinars and a platform for business owners.
The EESC, an advisory body representing Europe’s civil society at the EU level, selected the Malta Chamber of SMEs as the best Maltese candidate for the Prize, saying its entry stood as a shining example of remarkable solidarity during the COVID-19 crisis.
As the crisis took hold, the Chamber – which represents over 7 000 SMEs – altered its work and created a support structure for them that focused on their essential needs and ultimate survival. This included exchange of good practices, information sessions, masterclasses, conferences, webinars, policy proposals and public representation.
The Malta Chamber of SMEs was announced as one of the 23 laureates in a virtual award ceremony held by the EESC on 15 February. The Malta Chamber of SMEs received a prize worth EUR 10 000.
The winners were selected from a total of 250 applications submitted by civil society organisations, individuals and private companies. All of the projects had solidarity as their driving force and displayed creative and effective ways of rising to the often daunting challenges posed by the crisis.
The Malta Chamber of SMEs received the award as one of the entries focusing on the theme “educational services and information on the pandemic”. The initiative of the Chamber of SMEs was tailor-made for the COVID-19 situation and proved effective in filling a gap in support that businesses desperately needed.
On a social level, business owners were looking for guidance and, as social partners, the chamber had a responsibility to fill that role. It stayed in contact with members and raised their concerns at the policy level.
Business owners turned to the chamber for assistance on eligibility and applications for support schemes, as well as constructive dialogue on how to come out of the crisis stronger. The SME platform enabled members to share experiences and look positively to the future. More than 100 people took part in each of the tailored webinars, on topics such as cash flow, mental resilience, business re-engineering and online fraud.
“By adapting our activity to cover all areas of business impacted by COVID-19, as communicated by our stakeholders, and by addressing the so called COVID sore points, our organization has established itself as the central point of support, whether it is mental health, economic support or community efforts,” said CEO Abigail Mamo. “The award will help us raise awareness about the value of social dialogue. Never has the functioning of social dialogue been so necessary and it is a model we intend to build on and adapt to other circumstances.”