Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) plan to form their own business chamber, claiming that the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) has failed to address sector specific issues.
The SMEs feel MCCCI represents the views of big corporations at the expense of pertinent issues concerning small businesses.
In an interview last week, MCCCI chief executive officer Chancellor Kaferapanjira argued that if smaller businesses feel that they can be better served by their own chamber, they can go ahead.
James Chiutsi, president of Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Smea), a body that is championing the process, said the chamber, to be operational in November, intends to represent business associations at national and central level and isolate and follow up on issues pertaining to a specific sector or
small business associations.
Already, the SMEs have linked up with the Zambia Chamber of Small and Business Associations where they plan to go next month to have first-hand experience.
Said Chiutsi: “We decided to transform into a chamber because it was not possible for Smea’s leadership to be jack of all trades and be conversant with issues affecting different sectors; hence, the need for a structure that brings all SMEs together while guaranteeing them their independence.”
But Kaferapanjira said there is freedom of association and if SMEs feel they will serve their needs better by having their own chamber, they can do it.
“We are a voluntary membership organisation and it is the businesses that matter at the end as they are the ones that choose who should represent them,” he said.
Kaferapanjira said MCCCI will continue to do its job as usual but wished the SMEs well on their plans to have their own chamber.
The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism has given a go-ahead for the SMEs to form their own chamber.
The ministry’s spokesperson, Wiskes Nkombezi, said they have been looking for a way to create a platform that encompasses all SMEs so that their voices are heard.
“The ministry wants the SMEs to have one voice, but we are not sure if the idea of a chamber is viable in the timeframe, but if all the SMEs agree on this idea then as a ministry we will facilitate and advise where possible,” he said.
In the Southern African region, some countries such as Zimbabwe and South Africa, small businesses have chambers that represent their interests. n