3 Essential Belgian Chambers of Commerce: Key to success
October 1, 2020
Table of Contents
How can a Chamber of Commerce help you?
Before going through an in-depth analysis of the Belgian Chambers of Commerce, we’ll sum up what are the main activities of Chambers in general. Chambers of Commerce generally offer the following services:
- Documentation on economic and business matters
- Information on trading activities and regulations
- Details on market opportunities
- Customs regulations
- Training days, seminars, and conferences
- Trade missions
Depending on the size of the Chamber of Commerce, they can also offer complementary services. In this article, we’ll give a short intro of the 3 most essential Belgian Chambers of Commerce.
What is the goal of Chambers of Commerce?
Chambers of Commerce bring together entrepreneurs and companies. By doing this, they aim to create new business opportunities.
Chambers of Commerce are dedicated to creating an environment that promotes business. They wish to have a fundamental impact on regional prosperity and well-being.
Chambers of Commerce are so well-positioned to help businesses. They can defend their interests at the local level and help them grow internationally.
All of the above-mentioned advantages are the reason why it’s helpful to have a federation, such as the Belgian Chambers of Commerce in Belgium. It provides a clear structure, guidelines and support for all Chambers.
What are the advantages of joining a Chamber of Commerce?
There are many benefits to joining a Chamber of Commerce, including:
- Discounts are available on many of your business needs. These include price reductions on insurance, marketing fees, office supplies, accounting software and payroll services.
- It makes your business more attractive and credible to your clients.
- The chamber can promote your business, especially when you first become a member. Chambers have many different marketing channels, including their website, social media, community events and print advertising.
- A chamber of commerce supports its members. It acts as a spokesperson for the common interests of its members.
- When you join a chamber, you can develop networks with other members. By networking, you can get to know other members of your community, develop partnerships, and support other businesses. If your business is in need, you can call upon a community of businesses for help.
- Your chamber of commerce can organize business development events. These events can include training and meetings, and help you develop or improve essential business skills. Their events can help you improve your business without exceeding your operating budget.
The three most popular Chambers of Commerce in Belgium are BECI, CCI Wallonie, and Voka.
The Federation of Belgian Chambers of Commerce
The Federation of Belgian Chambers of Commerce is the umbrella organisation of all chambers of commerce in Belgium.
- 7 chambers in Flanders collaborating within the Voka alliance
- 1 chamber of commerce in Brussels (BECI)
- 5 chambers of commerce (CCI) in Wallonia
- 1 chamber of commerce (IHK) in the German-speaking region
The Federation furthermore represents the interests of 33 Belgian-Luxembourg chambers of commerce abroad. Its accreditation programme enables the Federation to guarantee a high-quality service through its members to Belgian companies.
The Federation’s operations are built up around three pillars:
- Export formalities: coordinating the issuance of certificates of origin by chambers and national guarantee organisation for ATA carnets.
- International enterprise: supporting chambers’ activities with the Federation’s international network through, among other things, EUROCHAMBRES and the World Chambers Federation.
- Sustainable enterprise: encouraging the chambers to seek out solutions, together with companies, for social challenges.
The Federation has structural collaboration agreements with the FPS Economy and with the General Administration of Customs and Excise. Increasing the competitive strength of Belgian companies is the underlying theme of these agreements.
René Branders is the President of the Federation of Belgian Chambers of Commerce. René has always been dealing with international affairs.His work has always involved negotiation and a lot of intercultural dialogue. René understands the necessity of having the four networks work both on an international and a regional level.
Wouter Van Gulck is the General Manager. He did a Master of Laws at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. He was the Trade Commissioner for Flanders Investment & Trade in Johannesburg and New York between 1995 and 2004. Wouter is passionate about foreign countries, cultures, and people.
The Federation of Belgian Chambers of Commerce offices can be found at 2 Rue Belliard, 7th floor, 1040 Brussels, Belgium.
Brussels Enterprises Commerce and Industry (BECI)
Brussels Enterprises Commerce and Industry (BECI) is a partnership between the Brussels Chamber of Commerce and the Brussels Business Union.
Management is carried out by and for their members. Their work is based on intercultural, neutral and bilingual principles.
BECI encompasses almost two-thirds of the workforce in Brussels. It brings together more than 35,000 companies.
Olivier Willocx (Managing Director)
Joelle Evenepoel (General Secretary)
Jan De Brabanter (UEB General Secretary)
Marc Decorte (President)
What does BECI do?
BECI is the ideal partner for any active company. It 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.
Over the years, BECI has led many successful initiatives.
In response to the coronavirus crisis, BECI acquired 10.000 masks for Brussels workers. This was in collaboration with the citizens’ initiative #SproutToBeBrussels.
You can find more detailed information about BECI in our article about them.
Walloon Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI Wallonie)
The Walloon Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI Wallonie) brings together the five Walloon Chambers of Commerce. It is their only representative.
The CCI Wallonie organises the Walloon network of business services. It ensures the delivery of its members’ projects.
The five local chambers cover the whole Walloon Region:
- Wallonie Picarde
- Brabant Wallon
- Luxembourg Belge
CCI Wallonie represents 6,000 companies and has 68 employees.
The CCI Wallonie also includes the German-speaking chamber of commerce of Eupen Malmedy St-Vith as an associate member. It has the Walloon Union of Enterprises (UWE) as a partner.
Furthermore, the CCI Wallonie serves as vice-president of the CPCCAF (Conférence Permanente des Chambres Consulaires Africaines et Francophones).
Find more information about CCI Wallonie in our article about them.
Philippe Barras is currently the president of CCI Wallonie.
What does CCI Wallonie do?
The CCI Wallonie brings together companies of all sizes and sectors. Its goal is to provide its members with support. It assists them in the development of their projects, their growth, and their success.
CCI Wallonie operates on the Walloon, Belgian, European and international levels.
Most recently, the CCI Wallonie has organised information sessions about Brexit. It has organised commercial missions in Nigeria and Benin. It also hosted various networking events, such as CCI Liège-Verviers-Namur’s Meet’in Music.
Chambers of Commerce in Flanders
Vlaams Netwerk van Ondernemingen (Voka) is the most important network of companies in Flanders. It represents the interests of its member companies up to the highest levels.
Voka was created in January 2004. The Flemish Economic Union and the eight regional Chambers of Commerce in Flanders decided to collaborate as part of an alliance.
Today, Voka encompasses the Voka asbl and six chambers of commerce:
- Voka – Flanders
- Voka – Mechelen-Kempen
- Voka – Antwerp-Waasland
- Voka – East Flanders
- Voka – Vlaams-Brabant
- Voka – West-Flanders
- Voka – Limburg
There is also the Voka Metropolitan in Brussels for Dutch-speaking companies.
What does Voka do?
The Voka asbl is dedicated to defending the interests of its members. It helps them develop projects at the Flemish regional level.
Voka asbl are especially active in the defence of regional interests, networking and the implementation of business services.
Since 2008, Voka has been actively cooperating with 29 industrial organisations. This has further strengthened employer networks.
Companies become direct members of Voka. This helps them to develop wider business networks.
Members are the major strength of the organization. Voka is an association organised for and by Flemish companies. Their aim is to develop business opportunities freely and successfully in Flanders.
Over the years Voka, have taken part in a range of important debates, such as during regional and European elections.
These debates brought together entrepreneurs and politicians from the main Belgian political parties. These included the CD&V, NVA, and Open Vld.
Voka was also part of a high-level delegation of Chambers of Commerce. These took part in discussions about Brexit with Dominic Raab in the UK.
Voka has the interests of its members at heart. It takes part in key discussions at the highest levels. It also organises valuable events for entrepreneurs.
If you want more information about Voka, you can read our article about them here.
BECI, CCI Wallonie, and Voka join CONNECTS
BECI is our oldest partner, having joined us in 2017. Voka then joined us in 2019. CCI Wallonie is our newest member, having started with us in 2020.
Since joining, members of these chambers have been able to access thousands of trustworthy partners, clients and opportunities across the world.
There are plenty of different networks on CONNECTS that you can access as a member, and the list is always growing.
What is CONNECTS?
CONNECTS is a digital Business Matchmaking Platform for Chambers of Commerce, SMEs and Startups.
Strong business relationships can only be developed through trusted networks. Working with Chambers, we provide access to trustworthy leads, suppliers, partnerships, skills, and business communities. It provides members with a trusted and safe B2B environment for business growth.
CONNECTS can greatly benefit entrepreneurs. A fantastic example is when a 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.
Another great example is of a Nigerian chemical manufacturer which found a successful lead with a Belgian specialty chemicals company, through CONNECTS.
CONNECTS is the best way to initiate trustworthy business collaborations across the world.
Want to grow your business using CCI Wallonie’s, Beci and Voka’s networks?
Excellent, because they are part of CONNECTS!
Are you a Chamber of Commerce? Book a demo with Salvadore Jani, our business developer, here to discover how you can use CONNECTS to grow your business.
Already a member of a participating chamber? Join our Business Matchmaking Platform for free.