BECI: Boost Your Business in Brussels
September 10, 2020
If you are doing business in Brussels, you might have heard of BECI (Brussels Enterprises Commerce & Industry). BECI is the Chamber of Commerce in Brussels which helps entrepreneurs with their business needs.
They are a valuable source of expertise, support and knowledge. In this article, we will explore more about BECI, who the top players are, what it does and more.
Brussels Enterprises Commerce & Industry (BECI) is a partnership between the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIB) and the Union of Companies (UEB) in Brussels.
BECI’s roots go back to 1703, when the Chamber of Commerce and Industry was founded.
BECI is managed by its members. It is based on an interprofessional, neutral, and bilingual model. It represents two thirds of employment in Brussels and more than 35.000 businesses.
BECI has now been active for over 300 years in advising companies of all sizes and in all sectors. BECI is the privileged meeting place for all Brussels entrepreneurs and offers them a wide range of services.
Olivier Willocx, Managing Director, studied economics at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Olivier has over 20 years of experience working with Chambers of Commerce.
Joelle Evenepoel is General Secretary. She studied law at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). Joelle has now been working at BECI for nearly 17 years.
Jan De Brabanter is UEB’s General Secretary. He studied political science at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). He has been working with UEB for nearly 10 years.
Marc Decorte is the President. He has been CEO for Shell Belgium & Luxembourg for over 10 years.
He has over 35 years of experience in technology, business development, and marketing. For the past few years, he has focussed a lot on digital transformation.
BECI has three parts to it, with the Executive Committee, the CCIB Administrative Council, and the UEB Administrative Council.
The CCIB Administrative Council’s President is Marc Decorte, and the Vice-presidents are Sandrine Agie, Roland Cracco, and Thierry Willemarck.
The UEB Administrative Council’s General Secretary is Jan De Brabanter.
BECI has 8 different departments: Executive Management, International Affairs, Events & Training, Marketing & Communications, NKVK, Business Relations, Business Consultancy, and their Centre of Expertise.
BECI is the ideal partner for any active company. The Chamber of Commerce helps its members in several ways:
- Defends the individual and collective interests of Brussels companies.
- Expands professional networks through events and its internal contacts.
- Offers advice and support to companies at all stages of their growth.
BECI offers 8 different categories of services, which we will take a look at.
Starting a business is embarking on a great adventure that will change your life. It’s exciting, but it cannot be improvised.
BECI offer advice and support to entrepreneurs wanting to launch a business, they help with formalities and documentation, they offer training and networking opportunities, and they provide the opportunity to expose your ideas to a wider audience.
Entrepreneurs very often have a tendency to think of “Bank” when they need financing. The bank’s mission is not to finance venture capital, which is why many companies are refused when they request financing. Financing an activity or a company is a risk in itself.
There are currently many forms and formulas of risk financing for businesses. By “Private Equity”, BECI refers to all funds of private origin that may correspond to a momentary need in the life of the company.
BECI can help find funds on the market for project entrepreneurs, startups, scale-ups, mature expansion/export companies or companies in transfer. They offer support with crowdfunding, crowdlending, private investment funds, events and documentation.
Doing business means first of all finding customers – but also suppliers, service providers, partners … BECI’s networks, networking tools and its networking events can help you. BECI offers advice, expertise about the EU, communications support, and information about the public market.
Selling or acquiring a business requires a lot of preparation and foresight. BECI acts as a trusted partner for the realization of such projects.
Mobility in Brussels is one of BECI’s main priorities for its members. Whether you want to develop a more efficient mobility policy, need advice, a diagnosis, a travel plan or just information, BECI is there to give advice and help you find solutions.
They also have a cash-for-car module to help businesses figure out how much the mobility of their employees will cost.
In Belgium, a border is never far away. In a small country with an open economy, at the heart of Europe, exporting is a natural and even necessary process.
Whether you need help with export formalities, advice about Brexit, support with exploring new European markets, links to other businesses globally or more locally, BECI is there to support you.
The Center for Businesses in Difficulty is open to all entrepreneurs and managers of SMEs/VSEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) in the Brussels-Capital region, who are facing professional problems or who have questions about the future.
BECI offers support regardless of industry, legal form and size of business. There is no need to be a member of Beci to benefit from these services. You can make use, free of charge, of the experience of a team of experts in a wide variety of fields (professional accountants, lawyers, strategists, digital experts, coaches, etc.).
Take stock of your situation, receive information and practical advice to determine the most appropriate solutions in order to bounce back or turn the page.
Have you closed your activity, declared bankruptcy or liquidated your business? You can meet BECI’s coaches and join a community of entrepreneurs. You can become part of the reSTART program to bounce back.
The aim of the reSTART programme is to share your experience within a kind and supportive group, to accept the reality of your bankruptcy (working on past failures and oneself), to have better self-awareness, strengthen confidence and self-esteem, to define a new project and become part of a new professional dynamic, and to provide access to new networks and contacts.
On top of these 8 services, BECI offers e-services, grouped into paperwork and export formalities.
Within the e-services for paperwork, BECI can help with shutting down a business or establishment unit, modifying your company data, starting a business, obtaining a business number, writing up a certificate of non-bankruptcy, registering leases, finding extracts from the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises, and writing up publications in the Belgian Official Gazette.
Within the e-services for export formalities, BECI can give consular advice and help with obtaining a Globalsign certificate, targeting documents, obtaining a certificate of origin and obtaining an ATA Carnet.
BECI also has an online calendar where entrepreneurs and members can access all their events, such as themed weeks, workshops, and webinars. Of course, with COVID-19, BECI has had to move all their events online, which makes it a lot easier for more people to access them and learn.
These events can cover subjects such as leadership, managing during the pandemic, business continuity and international trade.
Over the years, BECI has led many successful initiatives:
Je soutiens mes commerçants et j’arrondis !
“Je soutiens mes commerçants et j’arrondis!” equates to I support my local businesses and round up.
Despite the difficult socio-economic context and prospects for recovery which may seem bleak, BECI observed an encouraging phenomenon of solidarity: since the start of the crisis, some consumers have been supportive of their local businesses who paid a heavy price during the first lockdown.
By rounding up their bill when paying, consumers could generate up to € 140 million in aid over just a few months. This “J’arrondis” initiative has had great appeal for both local businesses and customers.
#PlayFair : rejoignez le mouvement en payant vos factures à temps!
“#PlayFair : rejoignez le mouvement en payant vos factures à temps!” equates to #PlayFair: join the movement by paying your bills on time!
COVID-19 and lockdown have had a huge impact on the Brussels, Belgian and global economy. During these complicated months, it is all the more important to pay your bills on time, otherwise, the consequences can sometimes be catastrophic.
A remark concerning the invoice, an incorrect number, a too vague payment deadline or an invoice not received, all the excuses are used to justify this type of behaviour. Only 15% of people affected by these unpaid bills are in fact in a situation of not being able to pay them.
These accumulated delays are putting pressure on businesses. They represent a direct threat to the survival of some, who are impacted, cannot themselves meet their commitments and sometimes lead them to bankruptcy. Often, the smaller the structure, the more serious the consequences in the event of payments not being honoured by customers.
#PlayFair is a solidarity initiative that encourages Belgian citizens to pay their bills. By participating in the movement, they are not only an actor in restarting the economy, but they also encourage their loved ones to do the same. As the name of this campaign suggests, by paying your bills, “playing it fair” and “paying fair” too, you can also save yourself a lot of trouble.
Distribution of masks #SproutToBeBrussels
A mask covering the nose and mouth is now compulsory for anyone aged 12 and over in public places and in private places accessible to the public throughout the territory of the Brussels-Capital Region.
In order to meet growing demand, BECI acquired 10,000 additional fabric masks – washable and reusable 10 times – for Brussels workers as part of the #SproutToBeBrussels citizens’ initiative.
BECI offers the possibility to order Sprout to be Brussels masks for businesses, staff, and clients.
As part of their educational initiative, BECI has three different podcast series: Beci Podcasts, Next step, and Bruxelles métropole. Beci has its own podcast, with interviews with experts, inspiring testimonials, anything that can directly or indirectly help entrepreneurs in their daily activities.
Next step is the podcast that aims to inspire entrepreneurs to take the next step. In each episode, they invite listeners to meet passionate people, listen to their journey and be inspired by it.
Bruxelles Métropole is the benchmark magazine for Brussels executives and managers and now has its own podcast: meet the guests of the editorial staff in open-ended interviews, to talk about entrepreneurial and urban themes, close to the concerns of business leaders and the realities of their region.
Producing podcasts is a time consuming and challenging task in normal times, let alone during a pandemic. However, BECI are going stronger than ever with their podcasts.
BECI has four priorities when it comes to doing the best for its members:
- Nurture a favourable climate to business and entrepreneurship.
- Strengthen employers’ power through relevant analyses and greater representation of a large and diverse group of members.
- Make stakeholders and public bodies accountable through active participation in various consultative bodies and management mandates.
- Ensure subsidiarity and good public governance.
In practice, this involves the representation of companies within the framework of social dialogue and to be a reliable partner in the mixed management of public affairs.
It also means developing and sharing knowledge on urban economic development and the metropolitan phenomenon as well as developing projects. BECI also commits to advising and supporting companies, training and expanding its network and supporting members’ exports.
Finally, BECI is determined to succeed in the missions of trusted third parties and facilitating administrative procedures in Belgium or abroad.
How to become a member
You must fill in an application and conduct a presentation to the Administration Council.
Find more information here.
You can find the BECI offices at Avenue Louise 500, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium. BECI also has a Google My Business page where they have excellent ratings and where you can leave a review.
Link with CONNECTS
BECI joined CONNECTS in 2017. Since then, members of BECI have been able to access thousands of opportunities across the world.
A perfect example of how CONNECTS can benefit entrepreneurs is when the BECI moderator posted an opportunity on the platform related to COVID-19. Soon after, The Caribbean Chamber of Commerce in Europe (CCCE) showed interest. This led to a successful collaboration between the two chambers, allowing for business resilience and continuity in a time of crisis.
As we move into a post-corona world, such examples will become increasingly common. CONNECTS is the best way to initiate trustworthy business collaborations across the world. Join CONNECTS through BECI. There are plenty of different networks on CONNECTS which you can access as a member, and the list of networks is always growing.
We also have a range of partners whom we are in constant communication with to improve the platform.
Interested in making your company grow and prosper? Want to have access to BECI’s network? Join CONNECTS and discover a world of new business opportunities you can trust. Enjoy our latest offer: a 1 month free trial. This offer includes:
- The opportunity to connect with all our members
- Validation by a moderator
- Access to the companies and member search tool
- View and create business opportunities
- Online training on how to use the platform
If you are doing business in Belgium, you might also be interested in reading our article about Voka (the Flemish Chamber of Commerce) and CCI Wallonie (the Walloon Chamber of Commerce) or have a read of our article that gives an overview of the different chambers in Belgium.
Business is all about confidence in the future. At CONNECTS we believe we can only develop strong business relationships through trusted networks. We provide entrepreneurs with the best of both worlds, the digital and the personal user experience. The platform is a unique, simple, and effective tool for online B2B matchmaking.