While the pandemic may be a devastating blow to many businesses, Chamber of Commerce President David Xuereb stated in an interview with Malta Business Weekly that , “it’s an excellent time to slow down, re-energise and channel businesses into a better and sustainable future, matching the demands of tomorrow’s technology”. For many entities, Covid could potentially be “a blessing in disguise”.
In various documents it has published since February, the Malta Chamber has advocated an Economic Vision for Malta to become a Smart Sustainable Island that strives to advance economic growth while enhancing the quality of life of people. This vision has been shared with the government in regular submissions and is one that Xuereb feels must be actioned “with immediate effect”. The Chamber is pushing towards the 0 Carbon emissions by 2020. Speaking to the Malta Business Weekly, he added: “Short term solutions are of great concern to me as they start bordering into the long term”. When referring to cash injections, Xuereb continued “We need to see the ROI. I am worried we are not proactive enough. We do not know when the pandemic will be over. However, it’s important we adjust quickly into a new way of living and working, as well as championing our businesses”.
When asked by this paper if the Chamber is concerned about the numbers of workers leaving the islands, Xuereb replied “Eventually we should be in a position where employees can telework for Maltese companies from anywhere in the world, in relevant sectors. There will be no need for people to relocate to Malta.”
Last week, the Chamber, alongside the Ministry of Economy and Malta enterprise, launched a business re-engineering scheme. The scheme can provide firms with up to €5,000 in grants for consultancy services. The purpose of the project is to offer expert advice to businesses on restructuring their operations. The scheme will match consultants approved by the Chamber with businesses that wish to improve their operations through digitisation, energy efficiency, a reduction of their impact on the environment, and greater efficiency in their distribution capacities.
When it comes to communication with business leaders, Xuereb also reflected on a positive response from Chamber members which represent approximately 80% of employment in Malta. “Our AGM was the best attended to date- and it was entirely remote”. Reacting to the positive participation response from across Malta for both the AGM and recent webinars, Xuereb said that the take-up of members was very encouraging for the Malta Chamber to “access and reach as many individuals as possible, while not causing them to come out of their way to Valletta”.
Earlier this week, Malta was the fourth most represented country from a total of 30 countries engaged in international virtual business-to-business meetings as part of Retaissance’ Live, organised by Chamberlink (UK) and supported by the Malta Chamber as an Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) partner. Xuereb added, “Such an event shows how the Malta Chamber is walking the talk on digital re-engineering in retail. By actively supporting its members with initiatives to integrate their brick and mortar outlets with the digital channels, enhancing consumer choice and means to get it in an easier, convenient and more time-effective manner, we are advancing.”
Furthermore, Xuereb added, “We are doing all this while persisting in our internationalisation efforts during these challenging Covid months, embracing the potential of remote digital platforms and plugging them into our vast international business network for the benefit of our members. Many entities are already taking sounds steps”. Xuereb noted business re-engineering would work well for companies approaching this year’s Black Friday. “Sales are being scattered online, and with advancing technology, consumers will not need to go to the shops. The businesses investing in solid online platforms are the ones who will benefit, not just for this Black Friday, but for the future of shopping.”
Speaking of further future initiatives, Xuereb revealed a recent collaboration with MEIA could see talented professionals who are currently out of work, reskilling and training the youth of today in an exciting potential project. “Across all sectors, we have a plethora of gifted professionals who can help, support and nature our business leaders of tomorrow in their relevant domain” he added.