How can business chambers fight back against state failure?


Sakeliga’s mission is to create scalable solutions to state failure. These three concepts – scalable, solutions, state failure – hold some key insights for how organised business communities can resist state failure and chaos in their towns and build healthy environments for businesses and the communities they serve.

Let’s explore each of these concepts, starting with the last one first.

State failure

The state is rapidly losing the ability to govern at all levels of government and across multiple functions. Most notably we see total mismanagement of national, provincial, and municipal infrastructure and a steady loss of policing capacity to combat crime.

The result is severely deteriorating business conditions as disintegrating shared economic infrastructure and worsening violent and organised crime raise business operating costs and risks to untenable levels and harm productivity.

These conditions of failure and economic hardship are increasingly leading to an underfunded and financially stressed state. In the state’s desperate attempts to wrestle more funds and resources from productive, wealth-creating businesses and communities, we have seen an escalation in corruption, patronage, and harmful legislation and regulation designed to bring private assets more under its control and direct resources to state-favoured cronies.

However, these actions of a desperate government have hastened its failure and seen state and governmental authority recede from many spheres and in some cases virtually disappear altogether – whether it be from the running of local municipalities, the management of regional or national infrastructure like railways, the maintenance of safety and security, and much else.

The gaps, or vacuums, of order and governance left by the receding state constitute both a threat and an opportunity. A threat because in their place can result chaos, disorder, and organised criminality. An opportunity because these gaps can be filled by organised groups restoring order and governance, in the public interest.

The key to business communities realising this opportunity is for them to be organised, and ready and willing to:

  1. Take responsibility for creating a favourable business environment (not being reliant on the state or government structures).
  2. Act independently with or without permission from the government.
  3. Have a vision to take control of the essential structures that allow for flourishing businesses, communities, and local economies.

Unfortunately, most business chambers have not yet adopted this sort of mind-set. Many continue to expect their failing local governments to reform and fix their own mess. This is a losing strategy. Many try to build wide consensus among various stakeholders or “get government buy-in” before they act, which tends to mire their plans in endless meetings, politics, and community apathy. And many have not yet realised that organised business communities have the know-how, funding, and direct interest to take control of the essential structures that allow for a more flourishing environment for businesses and the communities they serve.

Thankfully this is changing. Business chambers and organisations in the Sakeliga Business Chamber Network have realised the opportunity they have to fill the gaps left by the receding state with focused and realistic solutions.


What is the purpose of a business chamber? Many think that a business chamber is a place to network with other businesses, promote your business in the network, raise funds for charities, or lobby with local politicians for special favours or concessions. These might be by-products of healthy business chambers, but they should never be the primary focus.

Rather, local business chambers must be solution-engines for solving shared problems affecting the local business environment. To be effective solution-engines, chambers need to be permanently and professionally staffed, adequately funded, and structured to pursue a focused mission through realistic, concrete strategies.

In short, the chamber needs to be a dedicated vehicle for improving the local business environment in the public interest.

It should be under the management and direction of a small, focused team, and raise funding from businesses and individuals who support the mission. These supporters of the chamber are not members entitled to benefits or services, but rather funders contributing to a common mission and vision for their towns – a mission executed by a professional team in a dedicated entity with sound governance structures.

This set-up provides a platform for solutions that scale.


Recognising the problem and opportunity of state failure and setting up a solution-oriented and funded vehicle to tackle the problem is one thing. But this will still be of limited value if the solutions are not scalable ones.

State failure is almost always failure at scale. For failure at scale, you need solutions that scale.

The first source of scale is inherent to the nature of organisations themselves: pooling resources (funding) to act at a scale far larger than any individual could. Formal, trusted non-profit structures with clear missions can raise, administer, and deploy pooled funding. This allows business communities to tackle larger, more complex problems than if efforts were fragmented or unstructured. This is so whether it be mounting litigation against an errant municipality, setting up private services, or simply supporting a full-time team to execute on the mission.

Secondly, the planned solutions themselves need to be scalable. Well-structured and appropriate litigation can achieve significant scale through the weight and legal reach of court orders and precedents. Private security is effective in looking after private interests, but a chamber providing a public interest mandate to a security contractor can begin to make common areas – crucial to the functioning of the town – safer. These areas can include key freight routes, town squares/centres, high-streets, parks and so on – such publicly focused security can create safety at scale. Basic services solutions for water and electricity that help repair, rebuild, or create efficient networks and distribution infrastructure can create scale, as opposed to every-man-for-himself solutions like rooftop solar or sinking individual boreholes.

The third key source of scale to mention here is sharing and replicating ideas. Sakeliga seeks to provide business chambers with a platform and network for accessing strategies and solutions already created by Sakeliga as well as other business chambers. Sharing what works and what doesn’t allows chambers to reduce their costs of creating solutions by avoiding having to reinvent the wheel. Legal precedents and case templates can help chambers achieve success through litigation at much lower cost by diminishing the workload for attorneys in fighting cases. National precedents established in key Sakeliga cases can be used to affordably compel certain remedies and obtain interdicts against harmful action which would otherwise have been prohibitively expensive.


Sakeliga is inviting business communities (chambers of commerce, industry organisations, and businesses yet to become organised) with a desire to fix their towns, to act upon the threat and opportunity in state failure. Our invitation is to develop a coordinated and organised vision for taking control of their local economy, set up a dedicated, well-funded and professionally managed solution-engine, and plug into a network of organisations sharing strategies and know-how for scalable solutions.

When business communities join the Sakeliga Business Chamber Network, they gain access to Sakeliga’s impactful strategic approach and a network of organisations who can help them – and who they can help – develop scalable solutions to state failure.

Sakeliga is bringing together mission-aligned local business communities with a vision to be responsible stewards, protect their communities from a failing state, and secure a future in the place they love.