If I had to single out one prominent requirement persistently asked for by entrepreneurs since I was elected Deputy President of The Malta Chamber in March, it would have to be the wish for an enabling environment that encourages and incentivises business and trade.
Since my recent appointment as Chairperson of the non-profit foundation for young entrepreneurs ‘Junior Achievement Young Enterprise (JAYE)’ I have come across a number of innovation-minded youngsters who are working hard, focused on seeing their ideas and ventures take shape and thrive. Despite being the longest established social partner in Malta – having been founded in 1848 – The Malta Chamber has been constantly renewing itself over the years to transmit an entrepreneurial culture within its membership. Thanks to our Young Chamber Network (YCN), four out of every 10 members today at The Malta Chamber are under 45 years of age, double the amount we had until three years ago when the YCN was set up. We even scaled up our already ambitious expectations by decreasing the YCN age threshold to 40.
We also complemented our resolve by opening our doors for Kordin Business Incubation Centre (KBIC) tenants. Through these efforts, out-of-the-box ideas and thinking started trickling in more steadily, contributing significantly to our policy contributions and rendering our representation more valued by decision makers. We genuinely believe that staying constantly tuned with industry developments emerging from the rise of technology, platform economics and virtual communications is not just necessary and vital for our local industry and commerce, but it is equally valuable to foster a global market mindset amongst our commercial community.
Equally important is our attractiveness and the unique characteristics of our environment. Having English as our main business language, competitively-priced human resources, flight connectivity to major European destinations and a strong ICT infrastructure serve as important prerequisites in the quest to get a business off the ground, rendering us attractive for foreign entrepreneurs. Measures and investments geared towards making Malta an ideal jurisdiction for start-ups are, for The Malta Chamber, putting our money where our mouth is.
At times we still come across certain basic stumbling blocks that prevent further progress, such as, for example, something as basic as not having a reference point for a funding application, to be able to track it against agreed implementation timeframes, a tracking process that is in everyone’s interest.
Risk aversity is automatically more pronounced for novel industries. Lengthy timeframes to proceed from proof-of-concept to financial support often spell trouble for an inventor. As The Malta Chamber, we work closely with Malta Enterprise to improve accessibility to various schemes, which are certainly very useful as a source of encouragement to incentivise innovation and nurture business industries like drones, fintech, e-sports and digital gaming sectors.
Another concrete way how The Malta Chamber actively assists young entrepreneurs who are ready to spread their wings internationally is to actively engage with its wide array of partners within the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN). Since the pandemic struck, The Malta Chamber and its private-public partner ‘Trade Malta’ have increased participation on international B2B digital platforms jointly organised with EEN partners.
As Deputy President I am proud of where we are today, conscious and determined to forge further ahead in our quest for more innovation and value. I invite all interested parties to stay tuned to The Malta Chamber’s forthcoming initiatives and matchmaking opportunities targeted at our exciting young entrepreneurs and micro-sized to keep delivering on their expectations.
This article was first published in The Malta Chamber Economic Vision 2022.