In Pakistan there are about 45 Chambers and more than 100 sectorial associations. The operations of these business associations are regulated by Ministry of Commerce and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan through Trade Organizations Ordinance and under Securities Exchange Commission regulations.
According to the Trade Ordinance, Presidents and Chairmen of Chambers and Associations are elected for a period of one year through election process. The elected leadership, being the representative of the business community, comes from the trade, industry, or services sectors. But to represent oneself as a leader of the business community from the platform of a chamber or an association for a short period is very challenging because the business dynamics of Chambers and Associations are entirely different from their own business setups.
In the last few years, business associations have been undergoing many positive changes. The elder leadership is proactive in its approach and is encouraging youth to join business associations. The young businessmen and businesswomen becoming part of the elected governing boards and managing committees are contributing a great deal in initiating new and innovative programs. With the blend of experienced business people and qualified youth, chambers and associations are performing well.
Being associated with the Chamber for about 18 years as Secretary General, I am of the opinion that CIPE-Pakistan has played a key role in changing the mindset and thinking of business association leaders here. CIPE has acted as a catalyst of tremendous change by holding capacity building training and advocacy programs bringing together top leadership and Secretary Generals of business associations at one platform.
CIPE’s annual Secretary Generals and Presidents Conferences are the best examples of knowledge and experience sharing, capacity building and advocacy that has not only helped Secretary Generals and Presidents of business associations in creating strong networks but also developed innovative and positive thinking for initiating many new programs for their members. These conferences are helping the top leadership and Secretary Generals in building their knowledge and doing policy advocacy in an effective manner.
Business associations have greater interaction with the policymakers and talk with them and with the public about the critical issues of trade and economy, holding conferences, roundtables, seminars and interactive sessions. As a follow up of these meetings and discussions, reports and policy papers are developed, providing recommendations to the government for taking measures to address the highlighted issues.
Particularly the top leadership in one year’s tenure, with the collective efforts of its elected Boards and managing committees, smartly aligns its role with the objectives of the organization, to deliver the best possible results. A sense of competition has also developed among the business associations to follow best practices.