Last editedApr 20212 min read
A Chamber of Commerce is a powerful force that can help shape the future of business for the better. As a business owner, it’s important to know what the Chamber of Commerce can do for you and the wider community, as well as to understand why a Chamber of Commerce can help businesses of any size grow and succeed.
What is a Chamber of Commerce?
A Chamber of Commerce is a network of business owners who come together to network with each other and to help guide business legislation in their region. Chambers of Commerce are independent and do not create laws or regulations themselves, but they have great influence with legislators when it comes to lobbying, and are therefore seen as an authoritative figure in the business landscape.
A Chamber of Commerce may sometimes be referred to as a Board of Trade. They are encouraged to support legislation that will help small businesses thrive through programs, campaigns, schemes and discussions.
Being a member of the Chamber of Commerce provides your business with the opportunity for extra exposure, gives you a space to network with other business owners, and allows you to engage deeper with your community and influence legislation.
There are a number of other benefits that can come with being a member of a Chamber of Commerce, such as being listed in a valuable members directory or receiving exclusive deals or discounts from fellow members.
The British Chamber of Commerce
Historically, France was the first country to introduce a Chamber of Commerce, in 1599, while the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) were formed in 1860. The International Chamber of Commerce is the largest, with over 45 million members across more than 100 countries.
The British Chambers of Commerce is made up of 53 Accredited Chambers, and represents about 100,000 business members and over 5,000,000 employees. It’s designed to help local businesses both large and small succeed by providing support and resources and forging new relationships between firms.
The 53 chambers that make up the BCC are spread across the UK, and these local chambers aim to be a fundamental support system for small businesses in the community.
The London Chamber of Commerce & Industry is the largest of the BCC’s 53 local chambers.
There is no specific area that the BCC is focused on, they provide support to firms in every sector. Any business can connect with its community’s Chamber of Commerce to gain insight, seek opportunities for growth, and discuss solutions and changes that will help businesses grow.
Chambers of Commerce are responsible for improving the local business environment and strengthening communities through advocacy, networking, and campaigning. In addition, they create an easy line of communication for business owners to connect with governing bodies.
For instance, a small business owner can raise a concern with their local Chamber of Commerce, who may discuss the issue and decide whether to address it at a municipal level with the local council, or to take further to a national level with the BCC. The BCC can then bring this issue to policy makers in the hopes of influencing national change to benefit all business owners.
The BCC is also part of the even wider Global Business Network, which connects Chambers of Commerce around the world to help UK businesses broaden their horizons internationally.
How does the Chamber of Commerce work?
Chambers of Commerce meet regularly, and high-ranking members are often called upon by Parliamentary Committees to offer perspective from the business community on economic issues. The BCC Annual Conference is held in Westminster and is attended by high-profile senior politicians and business leaders, which has included the Foreign Secretary, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Prime Minister, as well as many foreign dignitaries.
The ‘Bridging the Gap’ campaign is an example of BCC’s influence. This campaign encouraged stronger collaboration between education providers and businesses, creating better opportunities for young people seeking work. They did this through the development of the Young Chamber, a wing of the BCC dedicated to this specific cause. The Young Chamber hosts events, workshops, careers fairs, work experience programs, and more.
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