Business Environment in Vanuatu

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Photos of participants at an EESE Validation Workshop

The challenge

The mission statement of the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) is “To achieve the Economic Independence of Vanuatu by advocacy and policy development on behalf of the private sector, and to deliver support and services to Entrepreneurs and Employers”.

Whilst the VCCI’s mission clearly indicates that its purpose is to address and voice private sector concerns and challenges, the Chamber’s work in this area was extremely limited. The VCCI felt that in order to better represent the business community, they needed to understand their members’ positions on key employment obstacles. However, the VCCI did not have the tools or experience to conduct a membership assessment to execute its advocacy work in an evidence-based and scientific manner.

How empolyers’ organizations dealt with it

The VCCI internally established the Employers Service Unit (ESU) to focus on advocacy, communication and other activities that would build a favorable environment for sustainable enterprise development and investment. The VCCI also sought external support from the ILO ACT/EMP, which through the SIDA partnership was able to launch the EESE project in July 2012.

The aim of the project was to build the Chamber’s advocacy and lobbying capacity so that the VCCI would become influential in developing policy. The goal is also to conduct the first ever VCCI initiated survey which would eventually allow the organization to develop a tangible advocacy action plan, policy framework and position statements. See Survey Report here.

The result, outcome and main interventions

The Vanuatu EESE project delivered some significant results and a number of interventions were made that implemented a clear direction regarding the VCCI’s future agenda.

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Vanuatu Results to date

The immediate and expected long-term result

While the EESE project has helped VCCI narrow down the focus of its advocacy work, the process clearly demonstrates the need for the Chamber to periodically engage with its members and collect membership perspectives.  This engagement can be done through a business forum or subsequent surveys. During the survey validation workshop, members requested that the Chamber hold a Private Sector Business Forum to discuss issues impacting businesses in an open setting. As a result the first Forum was held in July 2013. VCCI members further discussed important issues relating to the Employment Relations Bill. The Forum also provided a platform for the Chamber to present their 2nd survey. The survey focused on the topic of setting a sectoral minimum wage for the hospitality industry in Vanuatu.

Overall, the EESE project has dramatically improved the VCCI’s ability to discuss key issues impacting business. In the long-term, it is expected that the VCCI will develop and disseminate evidence-based policy papers and positions that are capable of obtaining wide support and engagement. These actions will enhance the VCCI’s visibility as the voice of the private sector.