With or without the consent of the state: What can business chambers do when state failure threatens their towns?
This was the question at Sakeliga’s 2023 Summit for Stronger Business Chambers and Business Organisations. Here are the speakers’ top 10 best practices for business chambers:
- Business chambers are not there to exchange business cards but to create solutions to state failure. This requires a business chamber to raise proper funds and appoint a full-time manager to intervene in the town’s decline as soon as possible. The best business chamber members are, therefore, not those who join only in their own interest, but those businesspeople who want to and can fund common solutions. – Russell Lamberti, Executive Director at Sakeliga. (Click here for his speech.)
- You cannot litigate the state into competency – state failure is too great for that. But business chambers can and should litigate for interim relief and to create space for themselves within which they can enact legitimate alternatives to state collapse. – Péter Wassenaar, Attorney at Kriek, Wassenaar & Venter. (Click here for a video on how strategic litigation can change the economic game.)
- Starting a non-profit private fire service is much cheaper than it seems. The Sinoville Fire Fighting Association has already done this, and they are happy to share the recipe with business chambers. – JP (Johan) Botha, Project Manager and former Chairman at the Sinoville Fire Fighting Association (Click here for the SBBV)
- Realise that a better constitutional order in a community starts at the grassroots level, not with the state. Business chambers can create constitutional order at the grassroots level in the midst of state failure. The crisis of state failure is so great that business chambers have more constitutional influence than they might think. Constitutional realities are not static orders imposed from above by legislators on a population but rather arise from the practices, habits and actions of communities. – Prof Koos Malan, Constitutional jurisprudence. (Click here for his series on Constitutions, justice and separation of powers.)
- Do not try to litigate all municipal problems from scratch. Use existing court rulings or work with other litigants and partners to apply favourable principles so that your litigation costs are low and your chance of success is higher. A quick win, which could save billions of rand, is for example if business chambers have their municipality’s procurement policy revised to adapt to Sakeliga’s Constitutional Court ruling against BEE prerequisites in government procurement. – Tian Alberts, Legal Manager at Sakeliga (Click here for how your municipality can save millions or billions with procurement)
- Bring about cooperation, where possible, between the businesspeople in a town and the agricultural organisations in the area. These groups have strong shared interests and can work together not only in litigation but to set up alternative structures to restore the town’s economy. – Boeta du Toit, Executive General Manager at Agri North-West. (Click here for Agri -NW)
- By sharing knowledge about what works and what doesn’t, business chambers can reduce their costs of creating solutions by avoiding having to reinvent the wheel. Sakeliga provides business chambers with a platform and network for access to strategies and solutions that have also been tested by others. – Christo Bester, Head of the Business Chamber Support Network at Sakeliga and Manager at the Pretoria Business Chamber. (Click here for the Business Chamber Support Network.)
- Obtain the participation and assistance of a variety of local communities and Organisations. The solution is not going to come from isolated individuals but from cooperative businesspeople and community organisations from the communities themselves otherwise there will be no recovery. – Jannie Schabort, Chairman of the Mafube Business Forum. (Click here for the MBF.)
- Business chambers can greatly improve the security situation in their town even just by establishing good working relationships and coordination with local state law enforcement (where functional), neighbourhood watches and civil security services. In this way, business chambers can often combat crime to a high degree without huge extra costs. – Gideon Joubert, Head of Security Projects at Sakeliga. (Click here for his speech.)
- Remain mission-aligned to ensure a favourable local business environment with or without the state’s permission. Do not let sectional interests detract from the chamber’s ability to serve this purpose in the common interest. – Piet le Roux, Chief Executive at Sakeliga. (Click here for Piet’s speech at the opening of the Pretoria Chamber of Commerce)
Want to see more of these kinds of solutions and be invited to future summits? Then contact Christo Bester at our Business Chamber Support Network: [email protected] .
Do you want to build a network of strong business chambers and business organisations, which, with or without permission, can make their towns’ economies flourish again? Become a funder of Sakeliga today – click here .