President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Clinton Urling has told Stabroek Business that the decision made by the Chamber to allow modest business enterprises to become members was “a significant step” for the local private sector since it acknowledges the role that small businesses play in the growth and development of the economy.
Urling told Stabroek Business that his understanding of the role of the GCCI was that it included both providing institutional support for the strengthening of the existing membership as well as acknowledging and seeking to help build other legitimate businesses, particular those clusters of emerging enterprises that provide employment and play an important role in stimulating the country’s economy.
Urling told Stabroek Business that while he was somewhat disappointed that few small businesses had as yet moved to take advantage of the membership window which the Chamber had now opened, the new executive was satisfied that over time those businesses would take advantage of the opportunity.
The Chamber President explained that while the rule change that had made it possible for small businesses to become members of the GCCI had not resulted in a groundswell of new members the executive was satisfied with the Chamber’s aggressive focus on education and training during the 2012/2013 year and the high attendance rate at those training exercises. Urling said that over the past year the Chamber had focused much of its attention on holding workshops and seminars planned and executed by qualified consultants that had dealt with a host of “relevant small business issues” including preparing business plans, accessing financing, business management and marketing. He said that the Chamber had already undertaken collaborative work with the local Small Business Bureau, the Caribbean Institute of Forensic Auditors, the Canadian Executive Services and the EU-funded Caribbean Export, all of which were aimed at bringing different kinds of benefits to the local business community including small business establishments, over time. “Each time that the Chamber has accessed any of these organizations it has been to the benefit of our members,” Urling said.
Tipped to be returned to office for a second term, Urling told Stabroek Business that the elections which were due on Wednesday of last week to choose a new executive had to be postponed after a number of persons in excess of the required twenty one were nominated to sit on the Chamber’s Council, giving rise to the necessity to reduce those numbers to the required twenty one through an elections process. In his interview Urling stressed that the development which had effectively delayed the elections was “entirely within the ambit of the rules of the Chamber” which states that “The Council shall at its first meeting after the Annual General Meeting elect out of its own body an Executive Management Committee comprising a President, a Senior Vice President, a Junior Vice-President, a Treasurer, and a Secretary, each of whom shall hold office until his successor is elected.” Once the general membership elects the required twenty one-member Council, the Council will then vote for the executive. The rules keep the current executive in office until the elections are held.