Date: Tuesday 06 August 2019
Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce is evolving rapidly to make the organisation even more open and accessible, and to reflect the increasing diversity of the Island’s economy. That’s the message from Chamber CEO, Rebecca George, who with the support of Chamber Council is leading the introduction of a range of new initiatives.
“Chamber’s strength as the leading voice of the Island’s business community comes from our members,” she said. “Corporate financial services businesses will always provide the core of our membership, and we will continue to strengthen our events calendar and include more CPD based learning opportunities among many other popular events that we organise throughout the year. Having said that, as the Manx economy grows and diversifies we recognise that Chamber must also continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of the business community, and the initiatives we have launched to make the organisation even more open and accessible are important elements in that evolutionary process.”
One of the first steps Chamber has taken is in regard to its sector committee structure. Rebecca explains:
“This structure worked well for many years, but after listening to feedback from members it became clear that there was room for improvement because active involvement tended to be limited to those who were committee members. Now, in addition to our regular sector committee meetings, we have introduced ‘open’ sector forums which ensure that all interested parties can engage with the activities in each sector. We have already hosted our first two open forums – one for the finance and professional services sector, and one for the digital sector.
Another significant development during the past year has been the introduction of more support for start-ups. The CEO added:
“A great example of how we’re providing more support is ‘Knowledge Connex’ which is a mentoring and knowledge sharing platform that allows entrepreneurs to benefit from the extensive knowledge, experience, and expertise among our members from established businesses. This provides a valuable resource not only regarding business in the Isle of Man, but also in terms of practical, real world, experiences about the many pitfalls and challenges one can face when starting out in business. In addition, we have also launched free Chamber membership for start-ups and in the first 10 weeks or so since that launch more than 70 new businesses have joined, which demonstrates the level of interest. Many of these new members are from the artisan food sector and wellbeing space, and we’re already looking at introducing more Chamber committees and open forums to accommodate the influx from these sectors.”
While significant progress had already been made, she added, there was still more work to be done to make sure that established and new members feel that they are gaining value from Chamber, and to make the organisation even more open and accessible in order to attract even more members.
“We’re determined to maintain the momentum that has been gained, and we’re working hard to analyse the start-ups’ future plans, reasons for joining Chamber, and what they wish to gain from membership. It is already very clear that in addition to mentorship and networking opportunities, a safe, inclusive environment to share highs and lows, and to foster a real sense of community, is very important too. Based on data gathered so far, we have already planned new events, set up an engagement group, and collaborated with Barclays Eagle Lab to offer introductory free of charge workspace to members during this summer. Feedback on all of this work has been really positive, and it’s been great to hear that Chamber is no longer seen as the corporate-focused entity it perhaps once was, and our social media presence and general visibility is better than ever. All of this, along with being based at the highly dynamic and collaborative Barclays Eagle Lab, has projected Chamber into a whole new space. It’s a great time for new members to join, and everyone that does so will be helping to strengthen our collective voice, which in turn enables us to do even more to support the Island’s business community in the future.”