So why join the Chamber of Commerce? What are the benefits for my business?
Many people have asked me over the past few months what are the benefits of joining the Chamber? It struck me that while we have all heard of a Chamber of Commerce, not many are familiar with what they do and how they can help businesses of all stripes and size.
In the age of digital media, e-marketing and google, one might wonder if Chambers of Commerce are past their use by date. Oddly enough Chamber membership is growing worldwide and it is a trend that shows no sign of slowing. So why are businesses keen on joining?
For many the key benefit is the ability to widen their range of contacts and networks. Whether it is meeting new customers, potential suppliers or just promoting their business, there is nothing as yet to replace the opportunities for direct and face to face contact with other businesses in your local market. But there are a whole host of other benefits too. Typically a Chamber would offer a suite of practical services like the following.
Not least since Chambers of Commerce are membership organisations driven and focussed on delivering benefits to their members, many are innovating on new practical services and creating new ways to serve businesses, especially helping them save time and money. So many Chambers are now featuring a wide range of new services
- British business centres – with access to hot desk space, wifi and other temporary office facilities
- Discounted training and development opportunities e.g. new IT applications, new apps etc
- Lists of approved service providers – Accountants, tax advisors, HR specialists etc.
- Group participation under a UK stand at Trade Fairs and Exhibitions – (often discounted)
- Documentation services including export documentation, legalisation and attestation
- Help with debt recovery and dispute resolution
- Access to the UK Chamber network and other British Chambers worldwide
So you can see that Chambers are far more than just a networking club these days, and the feedback from members is that they are giving more support and help than many businesses realise. For many businesses, especially SMEs, joining a chamber is far less a question of cost but more about how it can help them grow. And in these straitened economic times, any and all help to grow your business is really valuable. Why wouldn’t you join?
It was a bit of Cook’s tour if you follow the pun! Over 50 experts from high growth markets across the world touring the UK signposting overseas opportunities to UK businesses. The week long Explore Export programme of events is now an important annual fixture and a key event for UK businesses keen on exporting overseas. From Barnsley to Birmingham, Bristol to the Theatre of Dreams (Old Trafford Stadium) in Manchester, the venues were busy with exports and overseas trade high on everyone’s minds. Qatar proved to be one of the most popular markets. Businesses even queued up to meet us. Over 90 businesses keen on exploring the Qatar market, and many more interested to find out more.
The Chamber of Commerce in Qatar is going to be busy over the coming weeks answering all the queries and helping companies meet contacts and clients, customers and suppliers. The great challenge of turning interest and curiosity into real business is never easy but with enthusiasm so high in doing business in Qatar there is every prospect that many of these companies will succeed. And with the Chamber of Commerce dedicated to helping these businesses start their overseas trading journey, exporting has become a little easier.
If you are keen to follow in the footsteps of these companies, or indeed meet with some of them as they make contacts in the Qatar market do get in touch with the Chamber. They will be pleased to put people in touch. New business is on its way to Qatar.
In short because Qatar is booming! In less than 20 years, Qatar has transformed itself from a relatively unknown Gulf State to a prominent player on the world’s stage. It is now embarking on one of the most ambitious infrastructure programmes in the world spending more than US$220bn in the run up to the Fifa World Cup in 2022. Some might contest whether the tournament will go ahead, given all the drama surrounding FIFA in recent months, but the reality is that Qatar is going to build the infrastructure anyway so whether a ball is kicked or not, it shouldn’t matter. And money is not the problem. Qatar’s GDP per head is amongst the highest in the world. Its economy is growing fast – estimated at 7.1% this year. It enjoys the benefits of the 3rd largest gas reserves in the world and has a sovereign wealth Fund worth over $200 billion.
Already a number of key projects are underway. A new port and airport are being built. The port will be amongst the most modern in the world and Phase 1 of the new airport has been completed allowing up to 15 million passenger movements per year. Further phases estimate passenger capacity rising to 50 million as Qatar seeks to build on its reputation for being a regional and intercontinental transport hub. Work on the new Metro system is well underway with the first phase due to be competed in time for 2022. An overground rail system and a high speed rail network connecting Qatar to the other Gulf states are also well advanced. Add to that major improvements in the road network, sewage and waste networks, housing for an additional 1 million inhabitants, 70 new schools and 33 primary health care facilities. All of this is underpinned by a rapidly rising population. Qatar topped 2 million population last year and estimates claim it may reach 3 million within 5 years. Whoever said that Qatar is becoming the new Dubai is not wrong!
The good news is that UK businesses are uniquely well placed to benefit from this boom. Qatar is the 3rd largest UK export market in the Middle East region after UAE and Saudi Arabia. UK exports are growing fast (up 25% year on year) and now total around £2.18bn annually. Qatar has a long history of trade with the UK and UK standards and business practices are well understood here. Not least Qataris like the UK. The government has invested over £30 billion in UK, including such iconic landmarks such as the Shard, Canary Wharf, Harrods, and Chelsea Barracks. They also own significant shares in Barclays Bank and IAG the parent company of British Airways. And any visit to Qatar’s shopping malls will see a plethora of UK high street brands on display. If Marks and Spencer are here then there is no reason you should not be here too.
It would be foolhardy not to look more closely at the business opportunities that exist in Qatar. And the recently opened British Chamber of Commerce can help you do just that. Also visit our website www.bccq.qa or call+974 4016 4070 or e-mail Peter Cook direct firstname.lastname@example.org/+974 40164069. It could not be simpler.