Strengthening trade & industry chamber structures – fostering enterprise
In 2009 the AFOS Foundation entered into a partnership with the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industrie (CCCI) in the Philippines. Together they assist small business people and the rising middle class. This is being done in three areas:
- strengthening self-organisation of business people in trade & industry chambers and associations
- support for the trade & industry chambers and associations by advising their members with regard to product development, marketing and quality assurance
- qualification of business people and their employees and associates by vocational training
The Cebu Chamber (CCCI) represents more than 700 businesses in Cebu City and the province of that name. Thanks to German support since the end of the 1980s the chamber has been very professionally organised and provides important services to its members.
With the support of the AFOS Foundation it aims to share its experience and its know-how with the smaller and developing trade & industry chambers and associations in the surrounding Visayas Islands and in the north of the island of Mindanao. Here there are five main aims:
- to professionalise trade & industry chamber and association management
- to expand the membership base
- to lastingly safeguard finances
- to develop demand-oriented services for members and
- to strengthen political interest groups
In its work the AFOS Foundation draws upon the relevant expertise of the members of the Confederation of Catholic Entrepreneurs (BKU) and its network. Today two so-called long-term experts and local AFOS workers are responsible for the operative execution of projects locally. Through the German economy’s development organisation sequa the Federal German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) finances the greater part of activities within the partnership.
Professionalising trade & industry chambers’ and associations’ services
When advising and qualifying the trade & industry chambers and associations to professionalise and expand their services, the AFOS’s and CCCI’s cooperation concentrates on three main sectors (sector units):
- the food economy
- furniture/interior furnishings, fittings & decoration
Considerable progress has been made in this area in the past six years. Consulting and services have helped many member enterprises to improve the quality of their products and services, to expand their business activity and to open up additional sales markets. One important success factor here was the cooperation of enterprises in the various sector units and
the correspondent building of networks, in which they have also formed new customer and supply relationships.
Because of the positive results, the trade & industry chambers and associations have in recent years also been able to attract public funds from local government offices or to work as service providers for them. In some provinces, authorities have engaged trade & industry chambers to register enterprises.
These activities have not only put trade & industry chambers’ financial basis on a solid footing, they have also strengthened their standing with government authorities. Trade & industry chambers and associations have, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, been successfully established as institutions of the publicly organised business world. They are, thus, growing into a new role.
The CCCI and its sister trade & industry chambers and associations intend to take on a role, that is new for the Philippines, including in the area of vocational training.
Focus on vocational training
To improve the quality of products and services of individual enterprises, advisory services and other forms of assistance are all well and good, but they are not sufficient. Business people’s and their employees’ and associates’ qualification deficiencies can be lastingly remedied only by a systematic approach. It was therefore quickly agreed between AFOS Foundation and its Philippine partners, that German experience with dual vocational training should be applied to further development locally.
In 2011, AFOS Foundation and the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) intensified and expanded their cooperation with two of the smaller trade & industry chambers and associations. This included cooperation with Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NOCCI) in Dumaguete (East Negros) and the Association of Negros Producers (ANP) in Bacolod (West Negros). In the food sector, they launched a pilot project for catch-up vocational training. Starting from the realisation that without the enterprise operators themselves ’real’ dual training using the enterprise as the primary place of learning, is not possible, these enterprise operators must, therefore, first be qualified and further-trained.
OURFood: qualification in the agricultural / food sector
The choice of the food economy as a pilot sector, reflects development needs and potentials. The Philippines are a net importer of foodstuffs. Farming and the further-processing food economy are not productive enough and do not fulfil common standards of modern food safety and quality.
The aim of the pilot project is to improve the quality of products by means of vocational training at the three levels of the value-added chain in the food economy (production, processing, trade), and to fit those involved for production in accordance with the quality standards in force at any time.Involved in the OURFood project with a large number of relevant training courses and seminars, as well as with consulting, marketing and promotion are the cooperative partners (CCCI, ANP and NOCCI). The small farmers, cooperating with ANP, are the first in the Philippines to have been certified as GAP(Good Agricultural Practice)-compliant. The farmers’ associations in Negros Oriental and Cebu Province were set to do the same in the course of 2016. For the purposes of catch-up vocational training, courses in specific vocational fields (e.g. baking, butchery, food technology) have been offered by the trade & industry chambers for the food sector since 2013.
The trade & industry chambers’ portfolio also includes services and training seminars in the area of GMP (good manufacturing practice) or HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points).