Entrepreneurship in the creative industry

Earlier this week, The Malta Chamber CEO, Dr Marthese Portelli, took part in a panel discussion during Malta Film Week organised by the Malta Film Commission. The panel discussion focused on the topic of ‘Entrepreneurship in the creative industry’.

In her opening remarks, Dr Portelli emphasised 3 key ingredients for business success; business know-how, contacts and an entrepreneurial mindset. “Effective pre-planning and proper evaluation of critical success factors and related risks must also take centre stage to ensure success,” continued Dr Portelli.

“The Malta Chamber believes that the Cultural & Creative Sector is an Industry in itself. We believe that it has a lot of potential and therefore we must identify the strong points and address the challenges”, said the CEO. “We have the talent! Therefore, our thinking of this industry should go beyond local,” she said.

Dr Portelli continued by outlining the various initiatives and efforts that The Malta Chamber has undertaken to not only support but also aid in scaling up this industry. Through agreements and collaborative actions with entities such as MCAST and MEIA, The Malta Chamber has been able to work on targeted outreach programmes and policy formulation specific to this industry.

Dr Portelli outlined 5 points that require immediate attention in order to enhance the creative industry:

  1. FRAGMENTATION – We have too many entities dealing and supporting directly/indirectly with this industry. Let’s consolidate.
  2. FUNDING – Different funds across different government schemes exist. We need to consolidate here as well. We need funding support that is exclusively designed to meet the needs of this industry.
  3. INFRASTRUCTURE – We need to modernize and invest more in our infrastructure, including our digital infrastructure and that of marketing
  4. TRAINING – We need appropriate training to upskill our human resources and to keep abreast with the fast pace with which this industry is moving.
  5. INCENTIVES – We need incentives for Maltese, foreign and international business alike. We need to start looking at the end product, at its potential, at its value-added.

Dr Portelli concluded by acknowledging the hard work and dedication of the artists that operate within such a competitive industry. “Let us appreciate our artists, their talent, dedication and continuous work in elevating Malta’s culture and identity, ” said the CEO.

BNF Bank Wins ESQR’s Quality Achievement Award 2021

The Quality Achievement Award 2021 was given in recognition of BNF Bank’s outstanding commitment to endorse and improve quality management across its services.

This prestigious event recognises the top organisations that have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to quality-orientated practices, including in the world of banking.

Bringing together leading business professionals, public administrations and experts in the field of quality, the convention offered BNF Bank the opportunity to network with potential partners and increase its competitive capacity in the Maltese financial services sector.

BNF Bank has always striven for quality and believes in combining leading technology with personal interaction to deliver a seamless experience at every stage of the customer journey. By winning this award, BNF Bank has proved to be a reliable partner for its customers and stakeholders, supported by a professional team that is quick to respond to changing customer needs, digital requirements and economic trends.

George Debono, Chief Commercial Officer and Melvin Pellicano, Head of Business Development at BNF Bank, received the award on behalf of all employees at BNF Bank.

Commenting on this achievement, George Debono, said, “BNF Bank’s keen focus on innovation and a personalised customer service has been vital to our distinctive success in the field of customer care and quality management. This award is testament to our team’s exceptional resilience over the past few years as well as the hard work we are doing behind the scenes to provide a superior level of quality to our clients, through both our online and other services. Receiving this accolade reinforces our commitment to innovation so that we can deliver an exceptional experience to our customers time and time again.”

Despite pandemic challenges and the bank’s significant investment in technology, BNF Bank reported an increase in profitability throughout 2021. By providing secure and reliable lending and deposit solutions whilst continuing to grow its digital channels, BNF Bank was able to give customers the necessary confidence needed to carry out transactions, thus accelerating growth.

In addition to its recent achievements, BNF Bank also won ‘Bank of the Year 2021’ for the second consecutive year. These notable honours confirm BNF Bank’s determination to become the Bank of choice in Malta by maximising the full potential and quality of its services.

Malta Chamber signs MOU with UAE Federation of Chambers

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry signed a Memorandum of Understanding with The Federation of Chambers of Commerce of the United Arab Emirates, which incorporates the Chambers of Commerce of all seven Emirates, at the Embassy of Malta in Abu Dhabi.

The agreement was signed by the President of the Malta Chamber, Marisa Xuereb, and the President of the UAE Federation of Chambers, H.E. Abdullah Mohammed Al Mazrouei. Present for the signing where H.E. Dr Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Malta’s Ambassador to the UAE, H.E. Maria Camilleri Calleja, the Secretary General of the UAE Federation of Chambers, H.E. Humaid Ben Salem, and Lino Mintoff, Internationalisation Advisor at the Malta Chamber.

Prior to the signing, the business and investment opportunities in Malta and in the UAE, and the mutual interest of the two countries in enhancing commercial relations and bilateral cooperation between the respective Chambers, were discussed. A series of initiatives are being planned to bring together entrepreneurs from the two countries in the coming months.

The signing of this MOU followed participation of the Malta Chamber in an official delegation to the Dubai Expo on the occasion of Malta Day.

Malta Business Bureau congratulates MEP Roberta Metsola on her election to European Parliament President

The MBB congratulates Dr. Roberta Metsola on being elected President of the European Parliament, the highest democratic institution in the European Union. With her election, MEP Metsola is making history as the first Maltese citizen to take up such a prestigious position. She is also breaking barriers by achieving this despite being from the smallest EU Member State, and also as the first female President in 20 years.

MBB President, Alison Mizzi congratulated MEP Metsola on her election and augured her a successful mandate. “Roberta can be proud for obtaining the confidence of a great majority of MEPs from so many diverse countries and political backgrounds. The work she undertook in the European Parliament shows her abilities to negotiate while fighting hard for what she believes in. For this reason, she deserves the recognition received with today’s vote,” stated Ms. Mizzi. “MEP Metsola is also taking the leadership of the European Parliament in very challenging times. Globally we are still fighting our way through a pandemic, and Europe is still finding its way to economic recovery. At the same time the EU is paving the way for the green and digital transitions. Apart from the policy and legislative cycles, the EU itself is in the process of transforming itself to remain relevant for the citizens of Europe. Roberta has the privilege and the responsibility of being in the centre of this process and I am sure she will stand up to the occasion,” concluded Ms. Mizzi.

MBB CEO, Joe Tanti also commended MEP Roberta Metsola on her election, saying that, “Being the only Maltese private sector organisation with an EU representation in Brussels, the MBB has continuously liaised with MEP Metsola and her office over the past years. Roberta is a humble and visionary leader who is always well-prepared for every point of discussion and has actively cooperated with our initiatives. For this, we are very grateful. I have no doubt that her good qualities will allow Roberta to do an excellent job as European Parliament President, which will meet and exceed the expectations at European level.”

Malta Chamber congratulates Roberta Metsola on winning EP President Election

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry congratulates Hon. Roberta Metsola on becoming the next European Parliament President and wishes her every success in this new role.

This is indeed a prestigious appointment which can contribute to elevating Malta’s profile at EU level and internationally.

The Malta Chamber looks forward to collaboration in every possible way.

Pragmatic Approach is the only way forward for Air Malta

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry notes the sensible and realistic approach that is being adopted with respect to the national airline. The transparency in reporting the challenges at hand and the commitment to take concrete decisions that are first and foremost in the national interest are apparent. Also, The Malta Chamber notes the stark contrast to the various approaches taken historically with respect to Air Malta. The maturity with which the unions have responded to this is also commendable.

Undoubtedly, gone are the days when we carry forward unsustainable operational practices in any state entity and keep pumping public funds into unviable business models, simply to safeguard jobs or for political convenience. The Malta Chamber hopes that Air Malta’s predicament will be an eyeopener for the management of public entities and the rationalisation of public expenditure that needs to prevail going forward. Saving Air Malta will require shedding more than half of its headcount. Other state entities need to ensure that they do not find themselves in the same situation in future, by taking on more employees than what they really require. In this spirit, The Malta Chamber recommends that workers who will be shed from Air Malta will first be considered for secondment to the private sector particularly given the acute shortages of human resources in the private sector. This will avoid shifting the problem of excess employment to other state entities.

The challenges identified with respect to Air Malta highlight the importance of adopting an incoming tourism strategy that promotes Malta as a year-round destination. The policy document issued in November by The Malta Chamber entitled “Rediscover: a New Vision for the Tourism Industry in Malta” advocates this approach. This is also in the interest of improving average occupancy in touristic accommodation and having a more sustainable tourism industry.

The Malta Chamber believes that the proposed actions to improve the financial performance of the airline are reasonable and credible. They acknowledge the particular challenges related to the size of the airline and the markets in which it operates. The ambition to move forward with implementation at a quick pace is another bold move and will help Malta regaining credibility with the European Commission.

The Malta Chamber is aware that the national airline is of paramount strategic importance. It does not only ensure air connectivity to mainland Europe for business and tourism purposes, but also retains the capability to operate flights to supply essential goods in critical circumstances.

All parties involved in Air Malta’s transition need to be reasonable and responsible in their demands to ensure that the country succeeds in saving the national airline. The Malta Chamber hopes that this restructuring plan will ultimately guarantee a sustainable future for Air Malta.

Atlas donates a specialised Braille printer to the Malta Society of the Blind

Atlas Insurance has once again demonstrated it is close to the community it serves and is sensitive to the needs of NGOs by donating €2,000 to the Malta Society of the Blind towards the purchase of a specialised Braille printer for the Society to use in its premises in Santa Venera.

Braille is a system that enables people who are blind and visually impaired to read and write through touch. It was devised by Louis Braille in 1821 and consists of raised dots arranged in “cells.” Each cell represents a letter, a word, a combination of letters, a numeral or a punctuation mark.

The aims and objectives of the Malta Society of the Blind are driven by the long history of the Society and its dedicated board members. Its ambitious goals stretch from assistance and emotional support for individuals, to being a voice for the blind and partially sighted in society.

Joseph Micallef, Treasurer for the Malta Society of the Blind and also an Atlas employee said: “The equipment, funded by Atlas, will be of great help for people without sight, especially children, who never visualised the written word. This will allow them to have better access to literacy by reading and writing, instead of simply listening to audio books. On behalf of the Malta Society of the Blind, I thank Atlas for its generous donation. It makes me incredibly proud to work for an organisation that is on the forefront when it comes to supporting the community.”

He added that the plan is that, COVID-19 permitting, the Society will start opening up the premises on certain days of the week for its members to meet up and have a friendly chat and make use of facilities like the internet. The Malta Society of the Blind is also planning to equip its offices with computers to be used by its members.

Matthew von Brockdorff, Managing Director and CEO of Atlas Insurance said: “Recently, on 4 January, the world marked World Braille Day and this was the perfect occasion to be of help and assistance to a key NGO like the Malta Society for the Blind. The fact that this Braille printer will be at the Society’s premises for its members to print material for free when required gives us a great sense of satisfaction and optimism that, as an organisation, we can make a difference to people’s lives. We are extremely proud to be helping a worthy cause which is close to the heart of one of our colleagues.”

Meanwhile, Atlas organised a webinar for #TeamAtlas on 5 January to raise awareness on helping the blind and visually impaired.

The session, delivered by Mariana Falzon Grech – Secretary of Malta Society of the Blind, featured an introduction on the Society, the work it does and the challenges it faces.

She gave an overview of the different types of visual impairment and blindness, as well as some do’s and don’ts on how to help and interact with people who are visually impaired.

Information on the way Braille works was provided and how it is still an important communication tool and learning aid for youths, even in today’s technology-driven society.

Shortage of Nurses in Elderly Homes – A Crisis in waiting

The Care Home Operators Executive Committee within The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, is concerned about the shortage of nurses within homes and across the health sector. The Malta Chamber urges Government to meet the Private Health Care sector to discuss and find solutions that would be beneficial for both the private and public health and care sector.

To date, Malta lost over 600 nurses to the UK. Moreover, given the rise in number of COVID positive cases, Care Homes are being stretched to the limit, having staff suffering burnout after almost two long years dealing with the pandemic.

The Malta Chamber therefore proposes:

1. More support and full-time staff to be dedicated to the Nursing and Midwifery Council so as to enable it to vet foreign nurses’ applications within shorter time frames.
2. Better residency terms and family reunification for foreign nurses and health care workers, a practice that is already being implemented in other European countries.
3. Incentives to attract more local nurses to start or return to the profession.

It is worth noting that many Private Care Homes do not only cater for private clients, but are also on a Public Private Partnership agreement, relieving the state from cases that would otherwise be taking up beds in state hospitals. Yet they find themselves in a battle with the state as staff is being poached from the private sector instead of recruited otherwise. Last year, The Malta Chamber was in discussions with Government to enable Care Home Operators to extend and renew contracts for third country national nurses within the private sector for up to a 3-year period just like the public sector, and this initiative was taken on board. Similarly, The Malta Chamber is confident that the above three recommendations are also taken on board for the benefit of all senior citizens.

It is worth noting that Care Home Operators are a business sector caring for the most vulnerable during a pandemic with no financial support provided from July 2020 to date. The only assistance given to Care Home Operators was a one-time grant given to those that had gone on full lockdown during the months of April, May and June of 2020.

BNF Bank engages Bortex and Luke Azzopardi for new corporate uniforms

As of December 2021, BNF Bank customers are greeted by staff wearing new uniforms that embody the brand’s identity and dedication to providing superior service. The uniforms are worn across 12 retail branches as a refreshed complement to the team’s work ethic.

BNF Bank is well-known for being strongly connected with the territory and communities they serve. Bortex Fine Tailoring were shortlisted and selected as the suppliers of BNF Bank’s uniforms, bringing on years of experience in supplying high-quality materials while ensuring comfort and practicality. Award-winning local designer Luke Azzopardi has given an artistic touch to the brand and style through the design of bespoke scarves and ties, both of which having subtle integrations of the Bank’s logo, the velos.

“We believe that opportunities start with a conversation. It was time to further reflect the value we give to our relationships with each and every customer. We are proud to have elevated our identity by engaging top-quality Maltese manufacturers and designers.” said Karl Dingli, Head of Corporate Services at BNF Bank.

The new designs are inspired by BNF Bank’s branding and recognisable colour palette. “Our studio is moving towards a diversification of work, focusing on multimedia collaborations”, says Luke Azzopardi, who was in charge of creating unique designs for BNF Bank staff members’ scarves and ties. “We are very happy to be designing BNF Bank new uniforms, injecting them with a sense of luxury and heightened aestheticism”.

The Bortex team is excited about this new collaboration: “As Bortex, we are delighted to have been entrusted by BNF for the provision of their uniforms. Our objective with BNF is to deliver a product that is of quality, comfortable to wear and easy to maintain.”

The creation of new uniforms is part of BNF Bank’s ongoing journey to provide a personable and tailored customer experience to their clients. The values of professionalism, integrity, efficiency and approachability have been particularly relevant, especially amidst the pandemic, in earning the bank the title of Malta’s ‘Bank of the Year’ by The Banker a publication of the Financial Times, for two years consecutively, in 2020 and 2021.