Building better chambers and associations in Pakistan

Chambers of commerce and business associations in Pakistan have started showing significant improvements in the way they serve their members. Contributing to that outcome is CIPE’s continued work on capacity building initiatives to help chamber and association staff learn modern corporate governance and management concepts. As a part of these efforts, last week CIPE organized the 3rd annual Secretaries’ General Conference in Lahore.

34 secretaries general (the paid CEO position) representing chambers of commerce and sectoral association from across Pakistan attended the event, including 17 new participants. CIPE efforts were also successful in brining secretaries general from women chambers in areas such as Mardan, Peshawar and Quetta that are generally considered difficult for women’s empowerment. For Nazia Durrani, newly elected Secretary General of Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Mardan, it was the first such event. “It was a great opportunity for me,” she said. Other participants shared that view, emphasizing that this annual conference provides them with a unique common platform for learning and networking.

Since the 2010 Secretaries’ General Conference, participating chambers have specifically improved their membership services, increased membership numbers, implemented technological changes and entered into the modern era of social media – changes that were never thought off in Pakistan before.

Recent conference started with the participants sharing their success stories on the implementation of the last year’s learning at their institutions. These success stories include:

  • increased membership and retention thanks to a newly designed membership form and personal follow up at the time of membership renewal,
  • better value proposition for the members and greater attention to their needs,
  • improved board and staff training to ensure professionalism and clarify roles and responsibilities,
  • greater online presence through upgraded websites and social media (Facebook and Twitter integrated with the websites).

This year the participants went through rigorous training programs. The topics covered included leadership, advocacy, legal issues, ethics and proposal writing. At the conclusion of the conference all the attendees agreed to form a coalition and start a group blog where they will be able to discuss the common issues they face and participate in joint policy advocacy initiatives.