INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Minister Silvio Schembri on Government‘s aid for businesses
Commercial THE OFFICIAL BUSINESS MAGAZINE OF
GOLD COLLABORATING PARTNERS
Freightening rates: Freight rates keep on rising
THE REAL [E]STATE OF AFFAIRS
Ian Casolani interviewed ISSUE 96
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becoming a member The benefits of becoming a member with The Malta Chamber of Commerce.
Seeing the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel
Cyber attacks increasing in volume
From school desk to work desk
Melissa Lamb from Continent 8 on the alarming rise of attacks.
Fiona Captur on an enterprise that advocates to bring industry to schools.
Message in a bottle
Ronald Cassar speaks to Stephen Rausi on how the wine industry fared during the pandemic.
Injecting more substance into the White Paper.
Keith Demicoli on carving and shaping a collective future together.
10 Cover story Robot waiters, Covid Aid and more.
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first 100 days
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THE MALTA CHAMBER The Malta Chamber News, Events, and Initiatives.
Steering the yachting industry forward
Cream of the crop
Economist Kirsten Cutajar Miller on Making Malta ‘the best’.
David Sciberras on the largest printing farm in Malta.
Alison Vassallo, who plays an essential role in the yachting sector in Malta, interviewed.
30 RESEARCH AND INNOVATION Channelling CSR into research by Laura Bonnici.
Unmask[ed] Joanna Delia of People & Skin on an industry that witnessed a shift in consumer needs during the pandemic.
The real e[state] of affairs Ian Casolani, Belair, on the current property market.
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Space for growth
A rough road
Gordon Theobald, founder of Businesslabs, on a shared workspace concept.
David Fleri Soler, Head of Sales and Business Development at Express Trailers Limited, delves into the pandemic's impact on global supply chains.
52 Digital Currency
92 Emerging trends Raising your low-code expectations.
Many are investing in cryptocurrencies in the hope of making a quick buck or to invest longterm. Dr Chris Agius on the pros and cons of the crypto market.
Exclusive Minister Silvio Schembri on Government’s Covid support.
Keith Demicoli EDITORIAL COORDINATOR
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The publisher, authors and contributors reserve their rights with regards to copyright. No part of this magazine may be reproduced or copied by any means without the written consent of the publisher. Editorial features and opinions expressed in Commercial Courier do not necessarily reflect the views of The Malta Chamber, the publisher, or the editorial team. Both The Malta Chamber and the Publisher do not accept responsibility for commercial and advertising content. Although the authors and publisher have made every effort to ensure that the information in this magazine was correct before going to print, the author and publisher do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause. Special thanks to The Mala Chamber, partners, contibutors and Adobe Stock for the provision of photographic material. Printed in Malta by Gutenberg Press Ltd. All magazine rights are reserved by The Malta Chamber and TBWA\ANG.
IN THIS ISSUE
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So here we go again! Time flies. We are in our second edition of Commercial Courier ever since TBWA/ANG teamed up with The Chamber of Commerce to deliver this magazine with a difference. I have come across quite a few people who said they had seen a massive positive change in the choice of articles, the magazine’s design and format. We always appreciate feedback, whether positive or negative, to help us improve the magazine. An array of business leaders, economists and representatives from various sectors have contributed to this issue once again. We have covered a range of topics and national priorities – shortage of waiters in restaurants, post-COVID measures, crypto investments, the surge in the costs of freight, Malta’s mission and economic vision, emerging trends, the care home sector, the Cannabis reform, aviation, start-ups, well-being, team building, tourism, real-estate, Research and Innovation, yachting, to mention but a few.
In this issue, we also feature an exclusive interview with Minister for the Economy and Industry Silvio Schembri, who speaks about the Government’s COVID aid. Our highlight of the magazine, however, remains that of robot waiters. While we hope to put a smile on readers’ faces, let’s not exterminate the idea!
Duncan Barry Editorial Coordinator - Commercial Courier
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WORDS Keith demicoli
Seeing the light at the end of the ‘pandemic’ tunnel It is starting to feel like the COVID-19 pandemic is almost over. But before you go into a state of euphoria, set a date for a party or genuinely ask when and how will this end, scientists warn that while many countries, including Malta, are reporting fewer new coronavirus infections, data from around the globe suggests that this dreadful pandemic is not quite over yet. We might have to learn to live with coronavirus after all. Looking ahead to the end of the pandemic is not restricted to the Maltese islands. As the vaccination programme proceeds steadily, people in Malta and around the world are turning their attention to celebration and relief. However, history tells us that the end of pandemics are hardly orderly, unchallenging or straightforward to date. The recent announcements that restaurants and bars will no longer have to close at midnight or that vaccinated travellers from the UK can travel to Malta ‘quarantine free’ signals a new dawn in the fight against coronavirus. Nonetheless, strict observance of health protocols remains very critical to continue succeeding against COVID-19. As we see some light at the end of the tunnel, it is imperative that we don’t let our guard down. The marathon is not over yet! Only together we can end this pandemic, recover and get back to the things we love most. page
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As manifested clearly in all The Malta Chamber actions during this ‘marathon’, the idea of shaping and carving a collective future together should be the light enabling us to defeat all the darkness.
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Being an amateur and mediocre long-distance runner, a marathon might be analogous to the pandemic but possibly not the perfect metaphor. The pandemic is so unprecedented that it looks more like a long and arduous race. Still, we can adopt some running tactics to help businesses, especially those under enormous pressure. Preparedness is key. As longdistance runners have to constantly train, rest and reset with the help of a diverse team of trainers, health professionals and nutritionists, businesses need to focus on having the basics in place. They need to check on their teams, make sure they’re well trained, well prepared and adequately resourced. Runners tend to have a plan for a race, but as evidenced witnessed in the past 15 months, unforeseen risks threaten that strategy or timeline. Having various plans is pivotal to adjust, keep moving and get to the finish line. Sometimes crossing that line requires you to slow down, walk or even crawl. That’s fine. You reached your goal! By remaining focused on the finish line, meaning the future and not the present, proves to be very challenging but brings longterm benefits. It is precisely in this context that the Malta Chamber is still marshalling all its resources to
help companies not only stay afloat but adapt for a more competitive and sustainable future using innovative approaches towards a new norm. Throughout this ‘marathon’, The Malta Chamber truly embodied its mission to be the voice of business and support businesses in a tangible manner. Besides lobbying authorities to provide adequate financial aid for hard-hit enterprises, The Chamber is contributing actively towards Malta’s postpandemic strategy. Furthermore, The Chamber’s Think Tank is bringing together Malta’s top thinkers from the business and supporting communities, tasked with drafting a long-term vision and effective strategies to inspire and seek to position Malta as a leading country that fosters economic growth in respect of its natural resources. The recent consultation process and membership satisfaction survey signal The Malta Chamber’s commitment to live up to the expectations of all its members coming from a wide range of business sectors. The two distinct processes will place The Chamber in a better position to tailor its services to the needs and requirements of all businesses. As the saying goes ‘it takes two to tango’ and while The Chamber is being very proactive in engaging its members, business leaders are likewise expected to share their concerns, insights and approaches so that the future of the same businesses and consequently of Malta is devised in the best possible way. Like when running a marathon, the finish line of this pandemic will look different for almost everyone. Therefore, it is essential that those who cross the finish line first support and cheer those who are still facing the challenges posed by the pandemic so they can also finish and see the metaphorical ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. This dreadful pandemic is possibly the biggest story in our lifetime and a life-changing event that exposed fascinating trends in how we work, how we communicate, and how we relate with one another. Beyond the nostalgia, the lasting impact of the pandemic and the uncertainty of living with COVID-19, we now need to look ahead with positivity and hope to build a brighter, more sustainable, and kinder future. Strengthening the culture of preparedness and creating a more competitive and innovative mindset would be an excellent start to bounce back stronger. As manifested clearly in all The Malta Chamber actions during this ‘marathon’, the idea of shaping and carving a collective future together should be the light enabling us to defeat all the darkness.
Keith Demicoli is a multi-award winning broadcaster and communicator. Until recently he was well known for his regular broadcasts of TVM News. He regularly moderates and presents high-profile events. He’s a locally based contributor for BBC, France24, and Euronews. He trained at the BBC Academy, London, and is an alumni of the 'US International Programme for Journalists'. He holds a Masters Degree in European Law, Economics, and Politics from the University of Malta.
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WORDS DUNCAN BARRY
Are you being served? Like in many other countries, restaurants in Malta had to shut down during the peak of the virus, and as restaurants started to open their doors, restaurant owners were faced with a staff shortage problem.
This was mostly due to the fact that many workers lost their jobs as a result of the shutdown, and while locals sought other jobs or remained unemployed, many foreigners returned to their country of origin.
Just imagine, patrons snapping selfies with robot waiters and posting on their social media channels.
ROBOT WAITERS: THE NEW NORMAL? The Chamber's new President, Marisa Xuereb, suggested that restaurant owners should consider investing in robot waiters.
But away from the marketing aspect, Ms Xuereb had been quoted saying: 'The key to recovery is productivity, which means doing more with fewer people. I repeat this every day at work – we must learn to do more with fewer people. Bringing more people over to Malta if you can't find them locally is an easy solution; after all, our labour market is small, and it isn't hard to find people from abroad to fill in the gaps."
While it seems highly unlikely that robot waiters will catch on in Maltese eateries any time soon, it is definitely a suggestion that should not be ruled out. Suppose one were to see the marketing perspective of such a move, as social media becomes more of an incredibly powerful marketing tool. In that case, those taking up such an idea, absurd as it may be, will harness that power without having to spend a cent on a coordinated marketing campaign. Instead, the stunt will spread like wildfire on social media.
'However, the reality is that businesses need to check
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whether they have waste in their business regarding the number of people they employ and whether some jobs can be carried out without employing more people.' She went on to ask why pizzerias need to employ waiters to take diners' orders and serve them food when orders can be taken on a tablet and delivered via an automatic trolley. Who knows, in the same way, we have robot cleaners, we may have robot waiters, and you might also be lucky to get a bag of microchips to take home if you tick le the robot's fancy! POST-COVID MEASURES: NOT OUT OF THE WOODS JUST YET As the Government continues to relax measures, not all sectors are feeling relaxed due to some restrictions that are still in place as a precautionary measure. Some restrictions include sitting down to hearing music performed by deejays during recent events. A music sit-down event? Not impossible but not the best option! COINING IN ON CRYPTO As more investors are turning to cryptocurrencies to invest, the crypto industry is still heavily unregulated.
Pleas e sir, can we have some more ...
FR[E]IGHTENING R ATES The freight rates are on the increase, and it doesn't seem the situation is going to ease any time soon. Whether it is the sea, rail, or air freight, multiple factors have contributed to the increase in costs. Whether it is Brexit to blame or pile-ups, the rates are frightening for those involved in the logistics of the containers sector. PRICE CONTROL As the saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day and to recover from the ill-effects of Covid it will take time and patience. I have personally witnessed a surge in prices by some of those involved in the services sector. We cannot charge the earth to get what we lost. We are in it together. So we need to see what prices we are offering as some services are becoming exorbitant.
Mela tahsibni Robot ?!
Excuse Me Waiter?
From the recent turn of events, most especially Bitcoin has witnessed sharp drops. Whether it is Elon Musk's statements, Bank of England statements, or the China crypto crackdown which wiped out billions from the market, the crypto market is highly volatile, so one ought to seek good advice before taking the plunge. And if you are to invest in this market, make sure that what you invest is what you can do without.
"Oh look honey, They have Human waiters..."
In the spotlight
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WORDS MARISA XUEREB
CHAMBER PRESIDENT FIRST 100 DAYS Chamber President MARISA XUEREB speaks to The Commercial Courier on her first 100 days as President. My first 100 days in the post of President of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry have been exhilarating. I have the priviledge of presiding over the work of the newly-elected Council – an inspiring team of 18 business leaders representing a broad spectrum of business sectors who have been meeting regularly every two weeks to shape the policy direction of the Chamber and to share experiences and ideas about how we can push forward our economic vision for the country, balancing our business ambitions with a genuine interest in safeguarding the sustainability of our environment and the well-being of our people. Among the more important policy contributions of the past 100 days were Policy Papers on Recreational Cannabis, the Post-Pandemic Strategy, the Long-Term Renovation Strategy, Building Futures, the Sustainable Development Strategy, the National Strategy for the Environment 2050, Burden Sharing in a Gender Context and the Future of Education.
Most of our policy work is made possible through the support of our sponsors, whose list continues to grow. We have signed a number of important agreements in these 100 days with members that support our journey towards a stronger Chamber that is able to support the increasing demands of a more diversified and sophisticated business landscape, including GasanMamo, PTMatic, BMIT, Western Union Business Solutions and Ganado Advocates. We also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Malta Chamber of Construction Management to further support ethical construction development, and another one with Malta
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We have signed a number of important agreements in these 100 days with highly reputable companies that are supporting us in our journey to have a stronger Chamber.
Issue 96 Enterprise to support start-ups at the Kordin Business Incubation Centre. On start-ups, we have also supported the first edition of Pitchora, as well as the JAYE National Finals. Moreover, we have launched the following Projects: ‘Establishing Malta’s Framework for a Net Zero Carbon Building’ funded by The HSBC Malta Foundation; ‘TransFormWork’ which is a project co-financed by the Commission’s EU Social Dialogue Programme (VP/2020/001/0083) focusing on the transformation of the world of work; and Governance for Inclusive Vocational Excellence (GIVE) project funded by ERASMUS+ together with the Malta College for Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST). We have also been actively involved in several consultation processes on vocational education and on the national economic vision to 2031, which builds on the economic vision proposed by the Chamber over a year ago. We were happy to support the launch of initiatives on Green Loans for Businesses, and the Change2Grow and Restart Schemes, while also leading discussions on the scheme focusing on mental health support services for Entrepreneurs. Several other initiatives are currently in the pipeline to aid economic recovery. On an operational level, I was glad to see the Chamber enhancing its staff complement with the addition of Dr Marthese Portelli in the role of CEO and Keith Demicoli in the role of Head of Communications and Business Development. I am confident that they are having a positive impact on engagement with our members and the visibility of the Chamber on both national and international platforms. The Malta Chamber had the opportunity of strengthening our commitment towards our public-private partnerships with the appointment of Chamber Vice-President Liz Barbaro Sant as Chair of Trade Malta and our CEO Dr Marthese Portelli to the Board of Education Malta, whose Executive Chairman is Charles Zammit. We reinforced operational cooperation with Tech.mt, whose CEO Dana Farrugia works very hard to help the local IT sector grow both locally and internationally and work very closely with Trade Malta’s CEO, Anton Buttigieg, helping Maltese companies tap into business opportunities in a number of emerging markets. In May, the Chamber appointed Alison Mizzi as President of the Malta Business Bureau (MBB). This organisation was formed together with the MHRA prior to EU accession. It remains extremely relevant today in helping local businesses anticipate and participate in regulatory consultation processes and align with requirements to be able to operate effectively in the Single Market. page
I have had the pleasure of meeting a number of diplomats who are all eager to develop business relationships and enhance bilateral cooperation between Malta and the country they represent or are assigned to in the case of members of the Maltese diplomatic service. The opportunities are plentiful, and while the challenges of doing business overseas have become more pronounced with all the uncertainty and travel restrictions brought about by Covid, the commitment of the Chamber towards the internationalisation of local businesses has never been greater. We strongly believe that our economic growth depends greatly on our ability to identify and develop business niches overseas. I have had the opportunity to participate in a number of programmes on TV, radio and online, as well as a number of conferences. Maybe the one that attracted most interest was my participation in L-Istat tan-Nazzjon conference. This was a very interesting initiative undertaken by the President of Malta H.E. George Vella who has provided people who love this country with an opportunity to tell us all what we need to hear: that this is a nation that has an identity, and that we need to do all we can to protect our national identity, even in the way we do business. This is part of the process of restoring our reputation as a respectable island nation that is able to attract manufacturing companies of international repute, quality tourism and foreign investors who want to be actively engaged in the development of a small country where they can be more than just a number. The most defining moment of these 100 days was the FATF’s decision to place Malta under increased supervision, bang on the heels of a positive Moneyval outcome. This is a development which can have significant repercussions on the economy and which must be addressed with the highest level of political commitment and institutional effectiveness. The stakes are high and just like we were able to deliver substantial regulatory reforms in a short span of time, we now need to prove that our institutions are able to implement these reforms with the rigour required to restore the country’s international reputation in the shortest time possible.
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WORDS duncan barry
CYBERATTACKS INCREASING IN VOLUME
DUNCAN BARRY speaks to the Sales Account Director for Continent 8 Technologies in Malta, MELISSA LAMB, on the fact that the company's target industries have been fortunate enough to experience growth and expansion over the last 12 months and on reports that Malta, among other countries, IS being subject to an alarming rise in cyber attacks. Duncan Barry
CAN YOU PROVIDE US WITH MORE INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR NEW ROLE AT CONTINENT 8 TECHNOLOGIES? As the Sales Account Director for Continent 8 Technologies in Malta, I'm responsible for driving the design and execution of the commercial sales plan and for leading Business Development within the market. I also maintain the high standards set by Continent 8 globally for managing the accounts of existing clients based on the Island. Building on the 20-year relationship between Continent 8 and Malta, I have been engaging with local public and private entities to increase awareness of our product set. To this end, I will be participating in a number of hybrid events throughout the year. My role encompasses Sales,
Business Development, Account Management and PR & Marketing, all rolled into one, to support our clients locally together with the backing of the executive team which oversees our various departments and divisions located around the world. HOW HAVE YOU STRENGTHENED THE GLOBAL TEAM OF CONTINENT 8 FOLLOWING YOUR NEW ROLE AS SALES ACCOUNT DIRECTOR BASED IN MALTA? The global team comprises of highly skilled and talented people dedicated to providing an exceptional level of support to our current customers while also growing our customer base in new and existing markets worldwide. My extensive local network has meant being able to enhance our relationships and increase our brand awareness in a short period of time. As Continent 8 is the only hosting provider to offer two facilities with multi-carrier capabilities and diverse off-
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CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT MALTA'S STATE OF PLAY? Malta continues to thrive despite the challenges of the past year. Many of Continent 8's target industries have been fortunate enough to experience growth and expansion over the last 12 months, which has afforded growth opportunities for the company. We've launched several new products over this period to include Cloud services and a full-service cybersecurity offering. Both of these speak to the future landscape of Malta and the IT industry overall, which is poised and ready to embrace reliance on a digital economy. IN WHAT WAY ARE CYBERSECURITY-RELATED PRODUCTS PLAYING A VITAL ROLE? As has been widely reported, Malta and other key jurisdictions globally are unfortunately subject to an alarming rise in cyber attacks. This includes Distributed Denial of Services (DDoS) and malware attacks aimed specifically at the government, financial institutions and other businesses on the Island.
Melissa Lamb is a member of The Malta Chamber representing Continent 8 Technologies (Malta) Ltd.
These attacks are increasing in volume and duration due to the belief by hackers that businesses in Malta do not have the resources, nor expertise, to thwart them.
island connectivity, along with the most comprehensive portfolio of products and services in and into this jurisdiction, raising awareness of Continent 8's local and global capabilities have been a key focus for me since joining the business. HOW HAVE YOU SETTLED INTO THE ROLE, ESPECIALLY AS YOU ARE LOCAL BUT WORKING WITH AN INTERNATIONAL TEAM? Continent 8 has a deep affection for and commitment to Malta. The support, expertise, know-how, experience, and structure provided by Continent 8 have allowed me to settle quickly. For more than two decades, Continent 8 has been providing services to online gaming, financial, government and other businesses across 70+ locations around the globe. Malta plays a crucial role in this ecosystem, and, as such, I receive a lot of support from the wider team. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AND WHAT YOU CAN BRING TO CONTINENT 8? I bring a background in several of our core industries which, combined with my local presence in Malta and international experience, complement the broader goals of the global team. Continent 8 focuses on building strong, trusted local relationships, which makes us the strategic partner of choice in Malta and for clients looking to enter new international markets.
The reality is they do, but an education process has to take place to better inform companies of the threats they face, how to reduce the likelihood of an attack and, in the event of an attack, ensure it is effectively mitigated. Continent 8, with its multi-layered security solutions and proven expertise, is one of several companies in Malta able to guide and assist through this period of heightened cybersecurity threats. WHAT DO YOU THINK MALTA CAN OFFER IN TERMS OF OPPORTUNITIES IN THE FUTURE? The entrepreneurial instinct of both the public and private sectors in Malta makes it an ideal location for various regulated and non-regulated industries. We see huge strides and investment in dynamic sectors such as the drone industry, eSports and gaming, crypto exchanges and biosciences, to name just a few. The Malta Chamber lead the launch of Tech.MT promoting the IT sector while Malta Enterprise just opened a new 'Start in Malta' initiative to attract and support start-ups. Additionally, the Nomad Residency programme recently launched, making Malta an excellent choice for remote workers. With these programmes, Malta has shown that it is in tune with what is needed to remain competitive and strong in the ever-evolving global marketplace.
YEARS IN BUSINESS
MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE Times of crisis force businesses to find new ways to adapt and innovate. Just as the world has shown incredible resilience to the Covid-19 pandemic, so has the wine industry. Ronald Cassar spoke with STEPHEN RAUsi about the challenges his company faced during these challenging times. Amid fear and confusion due to a deadly virus, lockdowns and closed borders, uncertainty and mixed messages, this past year have certainly been incredibly challenging for all industries.
Stephen Rausi is a member of The Malta Chamber representing S Rausi Trading Ltd.
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WORDS ronald cassar
The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the global economy hard, and the wine industry is no exception. The industry has been faced with a drastic decrease in demand after the HORECA sector came to a standstill, having a direct effect on sales and distribution as well as the livelihoods of employees. One local distributor, S. Rausi Trading Limited, withstood the storm admirably and is looking forward to calmer waters. Stephen Rausi, Managing Director, established the company in 1992 after having been in the industry for 20 years, taking over an existing business in the wines, spirits, and beers operating since the 1960s.
Initially, the business was set up as a wholesaler and distributor of beverages, including generic wines, spirits, beers and minerals. “When Malta joined the European Union, there was an obvious opportunity due to the dismantling of import tariffs, which benefitted wine importation." “Today, while retaining the wholesale business, the focus is mainly on the importation and distribution of Maltese and imported wines,” says Mr Rausi. Some of the most prestigious labels S. Rausi market and distribute include the Malta Meridiana Wines Estate Wines, Italy’s Marchesi Antinori, Prunotto, Tormaresca, Castello della Sala, Tignanello, Peppoli Donnafugata, Bortolomiol, G. Cesari, Morgassi, and Pallavicini. “We also have a selection of wines from the New World, in particular South Africa, Argentina, Chile, the US and also several other estates.” From France, top wines from Serge Laloue Sancerre, Bernard Defaix Chablis, Laurent Brotte Rhone, Tinel Blondelet Pouilly Fume, J.B Audy Bordeaux and Champagne Bernard Remy, Carlos Serres from Spain and Portugal’s Dow’s.
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… business came to a sudden halt during the Covid-19 pandemic; this was a big step backwards… it was terrible, but we survived.
The wine culture has evolved in Malta as in other European countries, with people starting to appreciate not just any wine but good quality wine. The more people became aff luent, the more the leisure industry grew through a significant increase in restaurants and bars. However, business came to a sudden halt during the Covid-19 pandemic. “This was a big step backwards… it was terrible, but we survived. We coped because of the strong team we have operating the business. Our e-commerce site was set up well before the crisis, and this contributed significantly, as did the take-home outlets, which we have always maintained a presence in."
“During these testing times, good value for money wines performed well while high-end wines and spirits contributed to the satisfactory performance." “All past performances became insignificant as every month, if not every week, was a surprise,” argues Mr Rausi. As the world slowly recovers from the pandemic and a sort of normality returns to everyday life, Mr Rausi is hoping the company can carry on where it left off but does not wish to look outside the drinks business. “It is very demanding but also gratifying. We constantly strive to enhance our presence on the market, to focus on what we do best.”
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WORDS fiona captur
FROM SCHOOL DESK TO WORK DESK Junior Achievement Young Enterprise Malta Foundation, known locally as JAYE, has had a long-standing relationship with the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise & Industry for the simple reason that JAYE’s primary purpose is to bring industry into schools and to bridge the gap between the school desk and the world of work. With its three primary pillars being Entrepreneurship, Financial Capability and Work Readiness, JAYE’s mission is perfectly aligned with the Malta Chamber. Our experiential programmes force our Achievers’ heads right out of the books giving them the opportunity to put theory into practice. Our Achievers today are Chamber’s members of tomorrow. To prove this point, the Malta Chamber President, Marisa Xuereb herself as part of her JAYE team ‘Twist & Turn’, won The Company of the Year Award 1994-1995 which then represented Malta in the JA European Finals. For the first time this year, the Malta Chamber has awarded a one-year free membership to this year’s Company of the Year (6th Form) and Start-Up of the Year (Tertiary) winning team members to introduce the upand-coming key players in the industry through the Young Chamber Network. A unique networking opportunity for the human capital of tomorrow. In January 2020, in the very early stages of Covid-19, when its overall impact was relatively unknown, the World Economic Forum published ‘Schools of the Future’ - a
consultative white paper on the urgent need for education models to adapt to the needs of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Education 4.0 addresses the future skills we should be equipping our children with to fully participate as global citizens. The paper highlighted the need for a shift in learning content so that basic foundational skills such as numeracy and literacy are built upon further. Global citizen skills, innovation and creativity, technology and interpersonal skills were at the forefront. In October 2020, now in a raging pandemic, the World Economic Forum published the ‘Future of Jobs Report 2020’ outlining clear concerns about the ‘pace of change’, the growing digital divide as well as needed ‘jobs and skills in the next five years’. Analytical thinking and innovation, complex problem-solving, reasoning, ideation and resilience were once again reinforced amongst others. Skills Junior Achievement has been instilling in the youth it serves for 102 years across 115 countries. The need for this shift in learning content is manifesting itself repeatedly and with
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Some 3.1 million young persons under 25 were unemployed in the EU in December 2020.
growing urgency and concern. The need to move away from passive forms of learning focused on direct instruction and memorisation, rather than interactive methods that promote the critical and individual thinking needed in today’s society, can no longer be ignored. The pedagogical shift to problembased and collaborative learning thereby mirroring the future of work requires adequate and appropriate upskilling and reskilling for teachers, students and educational institutions alike. Therefore, the concern this need raises is that whilst global expectations are moving towards this shift in learning content at great speed, the competencies required to get there may not yet be in place as the OECD’s 2018 TALIS survey identified. Covid-19 has truly exposed this major skills-gap. The Malta Chamber has been quick to anticipate this lacuna. The Chamber’s Education Thematic Committee has focused on formulating tangible proposals on how education-specific recommendations as set out in the Chamber's Economic Visions 2020-2025 are achieved and delivered. It has identified active and concrete measures to ensure alignment between the national curriculum and the needs of Maltese employers
and the economy in a post-pandemic reality. Three key areas to address this issue have been identified: the Future of Education, Vocational Education & Training, and Upskilling & Reskilling with concrete actions and recommendations. In line with UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goal 4 in ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the World Economic Forum’s Reports, the importance of these skills and competencies is therefore vital for development and economic empowerment, the value of human capital to the individual, organisations and countries alike and financial wellness – both personal and that of the broader community. Providing a resilient workforce adaptable to change that ensures lifelong relevance and employment and, therefore, good quality of life is paramount. Some 3.1 million young persons under 25 were unemployed in the EU in December 2020, an increase of 438,000 from the same time in 2019. Therefore, we have a moral responsibility to update and reinforce our education system to empower our upcoming human capital to ensure that no one gets left behind. page
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WORDS Daniel Cassar
INJECTING MORE SUBSTANCE INTO THE WHITE PAPER DANIEL CASSAR, POLICY DEVELOPMENT department EXECUTIVE AT THE MALTA CHAMBER on the Chamber’s reaction to the White Paper on the Cannabis reform. In April, the government launched a consultation on a newly drafted White Paper on the legalisation of recreational cannabis, a multi-faceted issue with foreseeable repercussions on Maltese business and the economy more generally. In response, The Malta Chamber analysed the White Paper and came up with a comprehensive response. We paid particular attention to its regulatory context, and our response lays out a vision for a system that safeguards public health, promotes the preservation of public order and protects the economy. Above all, we advise that such a major and far-reaching form must not be rushed, especially when there is no urgency. Instead, let us carry out this process to the highest standards and best practices possible. In its response to the White Paper, The Malta Chamber added commentary on those sections which it felt were misleading or required clarification. We have proposed an alternative approach to improving the regulatory framework around cannabis. In our comparative research, we identified those areas in which other jurisdictions had experienced unintended consequences when legalising cannabis. This comparative approach allowed us to highlight hidden stumbling blocks in the government’s proposal and offer research-based alternatives. The Malta Chamber believes that science should be the first and final point of reference and the key to successful reform. The key issue on which The Malta Chamber diverged with the proposals set out in the White
Paper was the supply of any newly legalised cannabis. The White Paper remains silent on the framework for the legal procurement of recreational cannabis, proposing the legalisation of the possession of cannabis while its production would remain a legal grey area. In this respect, The Malta Chamber identified The Netherlands as a State with an analogous system and sought to highlight the dangers in taking this approach. In the Netherlands, the possession of cannabis has been de facto legalised through the “toleration” policy, where those caught in possession of small amounts of cannabis, typically under five grams, are not arrested or prosecuted. This toleration policy covers the sale of the product from the country’s famous coffee shops but does not cover the commercial production of cannabis. This has led to an illicit cannabis industry worth approximately 4.8 billion euros annually, an industry that remains unregulated and untaxed and necessitates and finances organised crime. Beyond the issue of an unregulated commercial supply of cannabis, we also highlighted the considerable risks of legalising the home-growing of cannabis, a proposal that could put consumers at risk given the lack of quality control on the product. The presence of harmful pesticides, heavy metals, and other dangerous components in home-grown cannabis could go undetected, with considerable negative health repercussions to the user. Preventing the consumption of these harmful substances has been a
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Daniel Cassar is an Executive in the Policy Development Department of The Malta Chamber.
key issue in the development of the Medical Cannabis Industry, an industry that has been meticulously regulated by the Malta Medicines Authority to ensure the production of the highest quality of medicinal cannabis without any adverse risk to consumers. In this respect, the premature legalisation of the possession of recreational cannabis without the appropriate regulation of cannabis supply could undermine trust in medicinal cannabis and pose a severe risk to public health. Therefore, the Malta Chamber set out requirements for the establishment of “safe” levels of THC consumption (a psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis products) through further studies. This proposal formed part of a wider framework that would require that authorities identify and regulate avenues of legal supply, including prioritising public health through measures that ensure the enforcement of production standards for home-growers. In this light, we laid out a proposal for a three-stage process that would see the government updating its proposed White Paper with the necessary considerations before returning to consult stakeholders and legislate accordingly. The Malta Chamber first set out that the government should proceed with the further decriminalisation of cannabis for personal use, taking the position that consumption and possession of cannabis for personal use should
never impact that individual’s police conduct. Beyond this preliminary proposal, The Malta Chamber made a case for a comprehensive study on international best practices with the ultimate aim of establishing acceptable THC limits in legalised recreational cannabis, adopting a safe regulatory framework for the legal supply of cannabis, including home-growing, as well as a credible and evidence-based approach to the prevention of substance abuse and the treatment of addiction. In the second stage of the process proposed by The Malta Chamber, the government would hold three key consultations to address enforcement, public health, and safety at the workplace. Through consultation with The Malta Police Force and the University of Malta Department of Criminology, the government would be able to develop robust guidelines on enforcement of the new framework with the ultimate aim of decreasing criminality, whilst a consultation with the Malta Medicines Authority would provide an effective safeguard on the desired quality of the product envisioned by the new legislation. Finally, a consultation with the Occupational Health and Safety Authority would guarantee that the legalisation of recreational cannabis does not impact employee’s performance at the workplace and ensures that the necessary amendments are made to the existing Health and Safety regulations. These consultations would then lead to a broader consultation with other stakeholders before moving into the process’s final stage: legislation. While reform of the legislation surrounding recreational cannabis has become an urgent necessity, The Malta Chamber believes that a balance can be achieved between fast-tracking the further decriminalisation of possession for personal use and taking a responsible, cautious approach to legalisation with the user’s safety as the top priority. page
Keith Pillow is a member of The Malta Chamber representing DAAA Haus Ltd.
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Breathing Better Life into the Office
With summer finally here, and Covid-19 restrictions cautiously being mitigated, we are all eager to head to the beach or park to enjoy the great outdoors. But the fact is that the best weather always seems to come around when we are at work! Most of us can surely relate to the hot summer days that we have spent shivering ins air-conditioned offices staring at the same grey walls. Bringing the outdoors in is a longstanding design concept which is ever increasing in its popularity and with some practical suggestions and thought-out ideas can be accomplished by anyone in any space. Humans have an innate desire to seek connections
with nature. Various research and studies have been conducted looking into this subject. All with the same conclusion, albeit varying in terms of duration, that spending time in nature can lead to increased focus, improved creative thinking and problem solving, reduced stress and increased happiness. These benefits can have a dramatic impact on employee engagement, retention, and productivity. Findings also prove that we do not even have to see the real thing to reap the benefits of this connection. Merely seeing pictures of nature or small natural elements, such as imitation grass, can have an equally gratifying effect. Experts
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WORDS ??????????? WORDS KEith PILLOW
WOMEN IN SUNIESS Isn’t it not that employee retention, engagement, and happiness is important to the success of any business? How imperative is the overall performance of the team?
Issue 96 linked the phenomena of nature exposure to a drop of morphine in the brain whereby the neurones in an individual’s brain turn off the stress response. This lowers the heart rate and blood pressure whilst improving immune response. In a time when maintaining the physical and mental wellbeing of our staff is key, isn’t it time that we offer the opportunity to all staff to bring a bit of the outside in? We typically spend 90% of our time indoors, with only a few of the workforce getting solely 15 minutes outdoors on any particular day. As humans, our instinct is to gravitate towards nature quite simply because it makes us feel better. If it is not possible to retrofit the current office to include real outdoor work spaces, inviting employees to take a walk or even have an option to work outside are some of the various and simple ways to incorporate the outdoors with any workspace. As simple as a humble pot plant is a great start to bring nature into any high-density space. To enable the most benefits, it's good to strategically place your green features in high-traffic areas or in locations where they can be seen and enjoyed by most. One could use moss walls in busy corridors, wood and natural stones in breakout areas, or pot plants to finish off dividing partitions. Whether an employee has a plant at the end of the desk or can see the living wall at the end of the corridor from their seat, the advantages are as efficacious. It is about surrounding ourselves with nature and bringing elements of the outdoors inside. Even if it is artificial or just adding the colour green in any given space can make a substantial difference. Effortless ideas to contribute for a more nature-feel office environment: 1. GIFT A SMALL PLANT TO EACH EMPLOYEE Plants are not only air purifiers, they are aesthetically pleasing and a source of stress relief. 2. INSTALL A FOCAL WALL Focal walls are large displays typically utilizing a mural or tastefully done wallpaper, which can evoke feelings of being outdoors. 3. USE NATURAL MATERIALS Bring in natural materials such as wood, stone, and even a water feature. 4. INSTALL AIR/SCENT DIFFUSERS Enhance the smell of the office. One of the quickest ways to trigger a nostalgic longing for the outdoors is the smell of rain, the ocean, or forest leaves. Check into different air fresheners that subtly layer into the room's atmosphere, yet don't overpower the office. 5. INSTALL A GREEN BREAK-OUT CORNER Use abundant medium-sized indoor trees/plants. If the space permits, find a corner where everyone can enjoy, and install a good number of potted indoor plants/trees. Using an abundant range of layers will help re-create a true sense of outdoors. The area should be best used as a break out area by placing lounge chairs nearby. This can also be enhanced by artificially illuminating strategically hot spots. If real plants would not survive in the designated environment, a semi- artificial plant would still do miracles. page
01 Increased FOCUS ENHANCEMENT 02 Improved creativity 03 Enhanced problem-solving 04 Increased happiness, engagement and talent retention 05 Stress-relief
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WORDS ylenia attard
Steering the yachting industry forward DR Alison Vassallo is a partner at Fenech and Fenech Advocates and is the chairperson of the Yachting Business Section. Having been heavily involved in the yachting industry for over 15 years, Alison is a recognised name in the international yachting legal sphere. Closer to home, she leads in the development of policies and industry lobbying as Chairperson of the Yachting Services Business Section at the Malta Chamber. She is also an Executive Council Member. Alison speaks to Ylenia Attard about the yachting industry in Malta and her involvement in it.
The yachting department handles the coordination and provision of the entire range of legal and corporate services that owners and financiers would require when it comes to the ownership, financing and operation of superyachts. This includes sale and purchase, registration, tax structuring, corporate services, leasing arrangements, importation procedures, and employment law assistance. ‘My joining the firm as an associate with the Marine Litigation Department in 2006 coincided with the Government at the time introducing a number of legal and fiscal incentives to attract these vessels to our shores. While our firm has always been an internationally
acclaimed leader in shipping law, with dedicated Marine Litigation, Ship Finance and Ship Registration Departments, there was as yet no specialised yachting department at the time’ Alison comments. Dr Ann Fenech, who heads the marine litigation department, asked whether she would be willing to research the subject and build up a practice within the firm. ‘I grasped the opportunity presented to me with both hands and poured my heart and energy in building our practice in this niche sector to what it is today. Drawing on and building on the firm’s Ship Registration, Ship Finance, Tax and Employment Law expertise while integrating the specific legal and tax solutions available in Malta, the yachting department was created to target and service superyacht owners and financiers. ‘With yachting not being a subject that one would study at University, I learned the ropes from the ground up, familiarising myself with the industry and building a network of contacts overseas through attending boat shows, publishing, and eventually speaking at a number
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‘One needs to understand the chain reaction of a yacht calling to our shores and the tremendous amount of service providers that depend on the industry. The economic impact was therefore hugely significant’ Alison explains, however how the superyacht sector has reacted in a unique manner. ‘What is impressive about this industry is its resilience. The beginning of this year has seen an exponential boom in yacht sales and purchases, with yards and brokers reporting a 46% increase in activity over last year. It is undeniable that this ultimately boils down to human nature – persons who can afford yachts have realised that there has never been a better time to own one since it offers the perfect environment to isolate with one’s family.’ Clearly passionate about her work, when asked what fuels her zeal for the industry she shares: ‘It is a combination of working in a highly professional environment, which brings together the yacht building and refit industries (and the varied artisan skills on which they are based), designers, crew and project managers on the one hand, and the pleasure of meeting clients for whom their yacht is synonymous with the time they get to spend with their families away from the daily grind.’
of fora. Over the years, with the benefit of a team of professionals within the firm, we have built a strong portfolio of clients who benefit from the 360 degree service that we offer. Malta has made steady inroads in the yachting sector, attracting some of the world’s most beautiful yachts and influential yacht owners. ‘Today Malta is a world leader in registering superyachts and the largest European flag - by December 2020, there were 306 registered commercial yachts over 24m and 553 private yachts over 24m in length. Added to this are the legal protection afforded to financiers, effective tax structuring options, a new Passenger Yacht Code and streamlined importation procedures. These are complemented by the marina, refit, chandlery, and agency services offered to yachts physically calling at our shores. Furthermore, we have noted with pleasure that Malta is becoming increasingly popular as a charting destination.’ The onset of the pandemic last year delivered a severe blow to the 2020 season. The Yachting Services Business Section worked relentlessly with the authorities to find solutions to continue servicing yachts arriving to Malta for delivery and for specific flagging and importation requirements while abiding with Government health requirements.
In her expert opinion, Alison identifies what she believes to be the best way to steer the industry forward business-wise. ‘There are various facets to this. A concerted effort needs to be made at a European level to continue building on Europe’s maritime dimension. At the heart of which Malta, with its strong Maritime tradition, undeniably forms a key pillar. At a domestic level, the mission of the Yachting Services Business Section has been that of supporting the Government with in-depth technical, practical, and legal knowledge of the industry. One of the main strengths of our jurisdiction has been the excellent working relationship between the authorities and the industry. A perfect example of what can be achieved with this collaboration is the withdrawal in October of last year of the European Commission action against Malta regarding VAT on yacht leasing and the formulation of new guidelines launched last year. The industry depends on the public sector and vice versa: the service we offer clients we bring to our shores can only excel in this highly competitive sector with the support of the various Government departments. Priority is, therefore, to be given by the Authorities to continued investment in human resources and training to ensure seamless provision of services on the ground. This would go a long way in continuing to build on foundations that are firmly rooted in experience, heritage and quality.’ page
Research & Innovation
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WORDS LAURA BONNICI
Channelling CSR into Research To counter the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses worldwide continue to drive their corporate social responsibility initiatives towards supporting their community through the crisis. But, excitingly, corporate investment into fundamental research could now take that concept even further. LAura BonnicI finds out more.
In just over a year, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost every human on the planet. Businesses of all sizes and industries have struggled, while the world watched with renewed interest as scientific innovations progressed in a bid to fight and contain the virus. Never has there been such a strong connection between the survival of the business world and the advancement of science – so much so, that many global enterprises now regard supporting research as a key part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Indeed, the COVID-19 crisis has elevated an organisation's philanthropic spirit – which is normally realised through its day-to-day CSR initiatives – from simply feel-good to essential for survival. With the arrival of the pandemic, the world's businesses urgently channelled their CSR into pivoting their internal operations to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of their respective teams. Then, they turned their attention – and their CSR focus – outwards to reassure and brace the wider community through the challenging times while pioneering the business forward. And, for many, this has meant accelerating research. The University of Malta's Research Innovation and Development Trust (RIDT), which relies on donations to support research in all areas of study at the University, has likewise felt the effects of the pandemic.
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Yet, the continued progress of several potentially life-changing projects in Malta has been assured through local organisations that chose to back RIDT using funds raised via their CSR programmes. Evolve Ltd is one such organisation. "Evolve has recently signed an agreement with the RIDT to support the Electromagnetic Research Group within the University of Malta for three years. The research group has an interdisciplinary profile, with more than 20 members internationally esteemed in their field. This is a perfect example of CSR in practice, where a private company is investing in the research potential of a group of academics and research students," explains RIDT CEO Wilfred Kenely. "Evolve is also supporting Maltese space exploration through the University's 'Project Maleth', which is to be sent to the International Space Station." The innovative mission experiment
will use the unique access to the space environment, microgravity and high radiation to study biological experiments and answer fundamental biomedical science questions – all of which could help solve realworld clinical problems. Meanwhile, it is not only medical research that is advanced through CSR funds donated to RIDT: the Gasan Foundation is one of three donors to have ensured the preservation and conservation of an important part of Malta's history. The Matteo Pérez D'Aleccio wall paintings at the Grandmasters' Palace in Valletta depict in detail the events of the famed Great Siege of Malta of 1565, making them a vital historical artifact. An ongoing project is conserving these paintings with the help of €75,000 from the Gasan Foundation, €75,000 from the Planning Authority, and a further contribution from the Melita Foundation. "Our 'Superhero' campaign also raised crucial funds in aid of children's medical research," highlights Mr Kenely. The campaign encouraged customers at stores such as leading garden centre Piscopo Gardens and Pet Shop to add €1 or €2 to their bill at checkout – funds that collectively support fundamental research related to medical conditions affecting children. "The initiative
This is a perfect example of CSR in practice, where a private company is investing in the research potential of a group of academics and research students.
Issue 96 aimed to bring people together, knowing their small contribution could radically affect the bigger picture for these children." Some organisations have even opted to formalise their CSR efforts by creating a foundation, such as The Alfred Mizzi Foundation. Following multiple major donations in recent years, the Foundation's latest contribution of €150,000 supports ongoing research into brain diseases, such as stroke, at the University of Malta. The cuttingedge project explores mild sensory stimulation as a non-invasive, drug-free, equipment-free, and sideeffect-free means of treating stroke – a debilitating condition that has devastating effects on around 400 people a year in Malta alone. With the funds received through the generosity of the Alfred Mizzi Foundation via RIDT, the project can continue to achieve significant breakthroughs that could impact people's lives across the globe. page
Finally, other organisations have launched fundmatching CSR initiatives. In fact, to help balance the reduced public funds received by RIDT throughout the pandemic, the University of Malta has ringfenced a portion of its research budget to match – and effectively double – the amounts donated to RIDT from corporate ventures. For the duration of the campaign, any donated funds from any company across Malta will be matched by the University, giving sponsors the opportunity to create more impact with their donation and benefit from a tax incentive whereby they may deduct the donated amount from their taxable income. So, by simply channelling its CSR efforts into research, an organisation can make a huge impact in the community and support life-saving and innovative projects. All this while helping to create a postpandemic world that has a social responsibility as its beating heart.
For more information or to make a donation to the RIDT, kindly visit www.ridt.org.mt or the RIDT-University of Malta Research Trust Facebook page, or send an email on email@example.com.
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WORDS Kirsten cutajar miller
‘the best’ KIRSTEN CUTAJAR MILLER, a leading economist and business consultant, on what sets Malta apart from other countries and how we should chart our own way forward.
A country’s vision is typically influenced by the circumstances surrounding that country in any relevant period. Historically, Malta has had to go through various phases of change and its immediate priorities have changed over the years, moving from the creation of economic activity and employment, the attraction of inward investment to the country, the controlling of inflationary pressures, and the reduction of the government budget deficit and government debt levels. Emphasis on these economic variables was amplified in the runup to Malta meeting the Maastricht Criteria for accession into the European Monetary Union. The intensive efforts undertaken to achieve a high degree of sustainable economic convergence, as stipulated by the excessive deficit procedures and thereafter the macroeconomic imbalance procedure, continued well beyond Malta’s accession in the European Union, in 2004, and the adoption of the euro in 2008. In fact, the excessive deficit procedures were only closed in 2015. page
Clearly, achieving this milestone took time, a great amount of policy-planning, effort, and equally sacrifice from the business community and general population. Sound public finances have been a long-time aspiration and provided a newly found sense of liberty in the allocation of public funds. Such a drive towards fiscal stability, pushed forward by a fast-paced economy and a greater Gross Domestic Product, continued also to reinforce our innate need to compare our situation to other European Union Member States, aspiring to top the statistical leader boards or failing that, to at least converge at the EU average. Yet, with greater aspirations and more economic stability, the more we asked how we can, as individuals, achieve a deeper and broader sense of prosperity. Over the recent months, perhaps also due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been amply argued that economic progress, increasing GDP, and budgetary surpluses are not an end in themselves and only represent part of our wellbeing. In its second quarterly review for the year, the Central Bank of Malta published an article on the European determinants of wellbeing between 2011 and 2016. The report concluded that although the link between the level of income and wellbeing cannot be discarded, people continue to attribute diminishing utility from income, especially in periods of economic growth. During such periods of economic growth, improved education and employment prospects and increased social interactions also contribute towards a higher quality of life.
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Malta’s aim should thereby be to achieve the best version of itself, one which suits its citizens’ and country’s needs.
The assessment of wellbeing, however, remains subjective to every individual. Thereby understanding and comparing our wellbeing to that of any other country, or individual for that matter remains a task within itself. The value we individually assign to economic, cultural, social, and symbolic elements varies considerably, and understanding such granular detail would provide key information for the pursuit of our society’s wellbeing. As a nation, we also must accept that our country’s combined wellbeing is defined and derived differently from that of other countries. The smallness, insularity of our country and the availability of resources are all factors which make us distinct in our needs and possibilities. Another critical factor that sets us apart from several other small and insular islands is that we are an island state. We do not depend on any other motherland for the generation of economic activity, nor may our population migrate to reduce population pressures. This brings us the fifth element which our country faces which is particular to our island state; the fast-paced growth of our population. Malta witnessed an astounding 12% population growth in 2019, whereas in comparison, the population for Cyprus increased by 4%. The scarcity of land resources, the unavailability of natural assets and the constant dilemma between
conservation and use of land begs for us to develop a sustainable economic model, which decouples itself from increased resource consumption and which makes sense to us. This is where we discuss sustainable growth, where economists collaborate with environmental experts. The sectors that foster and nurture allow for societal, individual, infrastructural and institution resilience. We need to start carving out our version of wellbeing, and it is a great relief that initiatives in this regard are being taken up. Making the best use of our ecological resources requires methodical and careful planning, which sees a shift from maximising output to output becoming the balancing item in our financial statement. We need to capitalise on our ecological assets’ resources, invest in their protection whilst ensuring the people living on the island have the best living standards. But, as with any careful planning, we also need performance indicators and early warning signs to assess the approach to potentially dangerous socio-environmental thresholds for the management of risk. Accepting our realities, led by a vision that embraces and appeases these limitations, we are to chart our own way forward. Malta’s aim should thereby be to achieve the best version of itself, one which suits its citizens’ and country’s needs. page
Unmask[ed] Dr jOANNA DELIA, Aesthetic Physician, on an industry that witnessed a shift in consumer needs during the pandemic and ever-increasing awareness tied to our personal care and wellbeing. MANY BUSINESSES SUFFERED HEAVY LOSSES DURING THE PANDEMIC. HAS THE BEAUTY INDUSTRY THRIVED IN SUCH UNPRECEDENTED TIMES? IF SO, WHY? The lipstick index, a term coined by the son of the founder of Estée Lauder, claims that lipstick sales could be inversely proportionate to a thriving economy. It speculated that women substitute cosmetics for more expensive indulgences like expensive bags or trips when their budgets are tight. And the pandemic is the first time since the 50s that trauma and economic downturn didn’t cause an increase in lipstick sales - the lips have been covered with masks... but I felt it increased interest in med aesthetic treatments.
Dr Joanna Delia is a member of The Malta Chamber representing People and Skin.
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WORDS duncan barry
In times like what we have been through and are still going through, business owners had to put their thinking cap on and make sure to adapt and have a backup plan. Finding the right ways and means to reach out to clients is especially important to ensure those client’s return. Creating a robust online presence through which clients can find the right information, interact, and get their voice heard is the right approach. As for the sterility and disinfection procedures that came along with this pandemic, the medical world has always been prepared, and it has not been difficult for professionals to adapt to the measures and guidelines proposed. With a few extra protocols in place and with a few tweaks, the staff could easily adopt the new procedures and have everything in place for patients to feel safe.
DID PEOPLE LET GO OF THEMSELVES BECAUSE MANY WERE STUCK AT HOME DURING THE PANDEMIC OR DID IT GIVE MORE TIME TO INDIVIDUALS TO START LOOKING AFTER THEIR WELLBEING AND AESTHETICS SINCE THEY MIGHT HAVE HAD MORE TIME ON THEIR HANDS WHEN WORKING REMOTELY AND NOT FROM THE OFFICE? With so much work going online, on Zoom and other applications, most of us spend most of our time looking at our faces. And some of us had already experienced being afraid to look at our faces - they seemed to deceive us as the years went by. We have almost doubled our life expectancies as humans over the last century and have certainly multiplied the value we associate with all our expectations of life after 40. We need to feel confident. We need to feel ourselves. This is why most persons seek aesthetic medical treatments which bust away wrinkles and restore volume with fillers. The aesthetic medical world deals with repair, restoration and beautification. But it also deals with overcoming trauma, restoring confidence and positive transformations.
Photo by Kris Micallef
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Maskcne is a real thing, and one must make sure to take action and needless to say, it is important one keeps the mask clean.
Issue 96 During Covid, the beautification and enhancement aspects decreased. The ‘if only s’ decreased except for post-menopausal peri-oral restoration in women who experienced near complete loss of lip shape and volume and barcode lines around the lip where bone density in the jaws decreased, leading sometimes to teeth loss causing backward recession of the area around the mouth. This was due to the fact that most patients seeking restoration of this area are very adamant about doing so discretely, so post-treatment, a clean surgical mask proved very effective at hiding any latent signs of having had the procedure done from the world! In combination, the flexibility to work from home and the mask served to give clients the courage to make decisions about treatments they had long been thinking of having done. In line with our expectation of a long life expectancy and good quality of life, restoration of confidence is part and parcel of a good bill of health. In terms of harmony, proportion, and the appearance of ‘healthy’ uniformly toned skin is an inevitable wish of every human to perceive yourself as beautiful. To see that the idea that the desire for personal beauty is for the satisfaction of the self, to reinforce the will to enjoy life, has been supported during a time of isolation, shifting paradigms and values, and self-reflection is a reassuring thought for the aesthetic doctor. HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED MORE HITS ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PAGES WHEN PROMOTING YOUR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES DURING COVID? Social media is undoubtedly a powerful medium for clients to reach out and stay in touch. People are very much online and more present, making their queries at any time of day. Being at home and having shops and other forms of information closed has led to patients doing more online research about products and services online. Patients expect more information than ever since they miss the one-to-one approach, which they usually get in a clinic, shop or salon.
Therefore, a good online presence is paramount. DID YOU GET MANY REQUESTS ON WHAT TO APPLY TO THE FACE TO AVOID FACE MASK SKIN PROBLEMS? Unfortunately, the mask has presented skin problems for clients who never had ‘skin’ problems before. Maskcne is a real thing, and one must make sure to take action and needless to say, it is important one keeps their mask clean. Another problem our skin is facing is overexposure to disinfectants and alcohol products - and this also goes for the hands. Keeping well hydrated helps prevent and avoid further skin problems. HAVE YOU WITNESSED A RISE IN DEMAND FOR SKINCARE SERVICES FOR MEN? OR HAD THIS TREND STARTED PRE-COVID? Throughout the years, men have gradually shown increased interest in taking care of their skin - a trend that started before Covid. From our experience, men are usually dragged for skin advice by their partners or loved ones. The more awareness there is, and the more taboos are lifted, the gap between men and beauty is narrowed. ANY TIPS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE AMONG THOSE WHO ARE STILL MEETING VIRTUALLY? The best beauty tip is to eat healthily, drink plenty of water and make sure your products contain the right ingredients. There will come a time when you will meet your peers physically, and there will be no filters to hide away confidence denting issues. ABOUT Dr Delia is an advocate for all things beautiful. Her specialisation in Aesthetic Medicine followed her graduation as a medical doctor, and today, she is the owner and primary aesthetic physician at People & Skin, overseeing every aspect of the business from keeping up to date with the latest developments in the industry standard, marketing efforts, human resources and financials. Dr Delia is also a passionate consumer of local and international art, lobbying strongly for more extensive patronage of the arts by the private sector.
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NEW TO THE CREW
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WORDS DUNCAN BARRY
Cream of the crop DUNCAN BARRY speaks to DAVID SCIBERRAS - Additive Manufacturing Applications & Print Farm Specialist, Invent 3D, who undoubtedly runs the largest printing farm in Malta.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA OF STARTING 3D PRINTING? WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND IN TERMS OF EXPERIENCE? My first experience in 3D Printing came during my time as an Innovation Engineer at Toly, where product design and 3D Printed prototypes were commonplace. My love for the agility of the process led to me being a champion of 3D Printing at Toly, leading to investments in cutting edge printers models, as well as a printer in every Toly office. That is when I purchased my own printer on a whim for home projects. The one printer quickly led to 3, then 6. When my living room had more printers than free space,
my wife and I decided to go full-time into a start-up focused on Additive Manufacturing applications. It has been a full immersion in the tech, keeping up to date with the industry from then on. I also completed my Masters in Integrated Product Development in my first year at Invent 3D. WHAT MAKES YOU STAND OUT FROM THE REST? YOU ARE THE BIGGEST 3D PRINT FARM IN MALTA, CORRECT? I do not believe that 3D Printing itself is that innovative. There is nothing inherently special about printing an item. The true innovation is how and where it is applied. Our processes apply 3D Printing in every stage of the product life cycle, aided by my own Masters and a fantastic team that is as dynamic as the machines we use. The 130+ machines running at the print farm allow us to cater to a vast range of products. At any given time, we'll have resin printing ongoing for dental applications and miniature figurines that we export worldwide. Meanwhile, other printers could be running
David Sciberras is a member of The Malta Chamber representing Invent 3D Ltd.
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jigs & fixtures, trophies, prototypes, short production runs and R&D in new materials and printers. WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE DURING THE PEAK OF THE PANDEMIC? The biggest challenge we faced was keeping up with demand. During the pandemic, we were driving the production of 3D Printed visors for Mater Dei. This non-profit initiative led to the donation of over 20,000 visors to healthcare systems around Malta, funded by a crowdfunding campaign, private sales and several investors who believed in the cause. My personal motivation was if we could help, we should. Profiting off people's fear is not on the cards. We put out a call to action to the Maltese 3D Printing community, calling every maker to help in manufacturing, to which a large number did indeed. We also reached out to material suppliers around Europe, including the original designer of the visor, Prusa Research themselves.
Our design was adapted from their open-source design in that it was redesigned to meet Mater Dei and Infection Control's specifications. I then released that design for free on the internet for anyone to download and have had reports of it being used in Greece, Brazil and Italy. This was a full-on operation, with the team and volunteers working long hours, assembling hundreds of visors per day. In addition, I personally delivered the visors to CPSU daily. HOW HAVE YOU RESTRUCTURED IN PREPARATION FOR THE "NEW NORMAL"? The way we operate is fundamentally ready for anything. Every day is different, as is every client. From trophy design one day to product manufacturing the next, we can handle it. Although the world has been moving from Mass Manufacturing to Mass Customizability for a while, the pandemic sped this process up significantly. page
Issue 96 CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR PAST PROJECTS? The gist essentially is, can it be manufactured in plastic, in 3D? If the answer is yes, we can create it. This has led us to projects in reverse engineering rare vintage car parts, unique trophies, medical respirators with modern filtration systems, cement moulds, rubber gaskets, intake manifolds for race cars, prosthetics, cosplay, merchandise, and more recently, space applications. Our knowledge of the process and application potential is industry leading. DO YOU FIND ENOUGH FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES, LOCAL AND EU? I believe that for an innovative start-up that requires investment in machinery and new tech, there
are no realistic funding opportunities. Our personal experience with seeking funding from the usual routes has been very disappointing, to say the least. Tech changes rapidly, and a lead time of several months for start-up funding is not sustainable. Invent 3D is entirely self-funded, so our sustainability had to come from generating revenue instantly upon launch and pivoting at a moment's notice to exploit new niches. This grinding attitude to success has, in turn, has made us into who we are in the local market and led us to our upcoming joint venture with Evolve Ltd for industrial applications of Additive Manufacturing. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE YET TO SEEK THEIR DREAM OF GETTING THEIR START-UP OFF THE GROUND? Seek out those better than you and learn from them. Getting your start-up off the ground is much like raising a child. It will be high maintenance at first, you'll have sleepless nights, and you will be constantly worried sick about it. But it will be worth it as you see it grow into something more than you could have imagined.
Joseph R. Darmanin, Chamber Past President, passes away On Sunday, 23rd May, Mr Joseph R. Darmanin passed away. Mr Darmanin was President of the Malta Chamber in 1996 and 1997 having distinguished himself is several different posts over the years. Mr Darmanin was a steadfast Chamber person whose father Frederick had also been a Chamber President. He continued to attend general meetings and Chamber receptions until very recently when his ill health prevented him from doing so. In 2019 he had addressed those present during the Eurochambres EU Parliament for Enterprise held at the Parliament Building in Valletta.
business community for EU membership and later also leading submissions on the EU Avis. He was the driving force behind the setting up in 1996 of the Malta Business Bureau in partnership with the Federation of Industry.
His business involvement mainly related to aviation. For many years he was GSA for Austrian Airlines and was also a Director of the Malta International Airport.
In an interview with Malcolm J Naudi in late 2012, Mr Darmanin had said “I had the good fortune to be surrounded by people like Vincent J. Portelli and Albert Mamo as Vice-Presidents and two councils full of members coming from all types of businesses, all experts in their own field, besides a talented, hardworking secretariat. To all of them, and to the general membership, who supported me in no small way, I am most grateful.”
Mr Darmanin was a great promoter of EU membership and had founded the EU Steering Committee which had carried out studied on the Acquis Communitaire preparing the
A gentleman of great style, Mr Darmanin, Skinny to his friends, cut a dashing figure. In 1988 and 1998 Mr Darmanin had been involved in both the Chamber’s 140th and 150th Anniversaries which had included conferences, magnificent balls, operatic concerts and beautiful exhibitions.
The President and Council send their condolences to Mr Darmanin’s family. page
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WORDS JOHANNA CALLEJA
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WORDS ian casolani
THE REAL [E] STATE OF AFFAIRS Government incentives have certainly helped the increase in property sales witnessed in the past months, but other factors are to be taken into consideration, according to IAN CASOLANI, managing director of Belair Property. Here he gives an overview of the current scenario in the sales and rental market and his predictions for the near future. ACCORDING TO THE MALTA DEVELOPERS' ASSOCIATION DATA, THE PROPERTY MARKET EXPERIENCED A BOOM EARLIER THIS YEAR DESPITE THE PANDEMIC, WITH SALES HITTING AN ALL-TIME RECORD IN MARCH. WHAT DO YOU COMMENT ABOUT THIS FROM YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE? Yes, activity levels in the property sector have remained positive, despite the pandemic. This was witnessed across most market segments, be it those looking for a home or investment. THIS INCREASE IN SALES HAS BEEN PARTLY ATTRIBUTED TO THE GOVERNMENT INCENTIVE SCHEMES FOR FIRST-TIME AND SECOND-TIME BUYERS. DO YOU AGREE? ARE THERE ANY OTHER FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTED TO THIS INCREASE IN SALES? The government incentive schemes for both the buyers and the vendors have definitely contributed to the increase in sales. However, price corrections in many areas can also be attributed to this level of activity. The uncertainty brought about by COVID-19 and the fact that many felt that the market
was possibly overheating encouraged sellers to revise their asking price where these were unrealistic. This, I believe, was a driving factor for many vendors to correct their prices, which in turn contributed to the increase in sales. WHICH KIND OF PROPERTIES SOLD MOST? AND WERE THERE ANY LOCALITIES THAT WERE MORE POPULAR? While apartments continue to make up for the majority of property transactions, sales of houses with outdoor space have also remained very strong, especially where the prices have levelled out to their more realistic values. Activity has been very spread across most of Malta and Gozo since besides the typical north-east harbour areas, both north and south have also been very active. THE INCENTIVE SCHEME FOR FIRSTTIME BUYERS COVERED PROPERTIES SOLD FOR UP TO €200K. WHAT ABOUT HIGHER-PRICED PROPERTIES? DID THEY SELL AS MUCH? Yes, higher-priced properties have also been selling, especially due to the recent (COVID
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I believe it is now high time to put some proper and more motivating incentives in place to encourage investors to invest in converting or upgrading existing older properties.
Ian Casolani is a member of Malta Chamber Board of Management.
period) incentives offering a reduced stamp duty for the first €400k of a purchase. THE GOVERNMENT INCENTIVE SCHEME HAS BEEN EXTENDED A COUPLE OF TIMES. DO YOU SEE SCOPE FOR FURTHER EXTENDING THIS SCHEME? AND WHY? This was in fact, (as I type) just extended until the end of the year. Whereas I agree with the effect this scheme has had on property sales, I don't believe it should continue to be extended indefinitely as it will eventually lose its effectiveness. WHAT IS THE SITUATION NOW? HAVE SALES REACHED A LULL, OR ARE THEY STILL GOING STRONG? No, overall sales are still going strong, but as I already mentioned above, correct pricing is a determining factor in which property sell and don't. Vendors who have come to terms with reality on their property's fair and realistic
value and who have amended their price accordingly (or who have accepted to consider a fair offer) are selling much quicker than those who do not. WHAT ABOUT RENTALS? HOW HAS COVID AFFECTED THE RENTAL PROPERTY MARKET? AND IS THE SITUATION IMPROVING NOW THAT TRAVEL HAS REOPENED? IS THERE INCREASED DEMAND? Yes, COVID clearly affected the rental property market, especially in the early days of the pandemic. The situation has stabilised now, however, overall, it seems that apartments across the board are still on average 15-20 per cent below their 2019 values. Houses with gardens and/or pool remain sought after and have maintained their pricing levels. It is probably still too early to determine whether demand has increased now that travel is reopening; however, the likelihood is that it will. page
Issue 96 Sales of houses with outdoor space have remained very strong in the past months.
WHO RENTS MOSTLY NOWADAYS? IS IT JUST FOREIGNERS OR STUDENTS? OR DO YOU SEE INCREASED EVIDENCE OF LOCALS, INCLUDING FAMILIES, RENTING OUT INSTEAD OF BUYING PROPERTIES? WHAT WOULD YOU ATTRIBUTE THIS TO? The majority of tenants are still foreigners, and these are generally working or studying here and/or are retired or semi-retiring here for tax reasons. Saying that, year on year, more and more locals continue to rent property, and these vary from single young career professionals to single parents and families. The mindset has changed significantly from what we were accustomed to, and it is now very normal to find locals looking to rent due to their circumstances. The fact that the property prices remain inaccessible for some also leads to them being constrained to rent instead of buy. WHAT KIND OF RENTAL PROPERTIES ARE MOST POPULAR? Again, the majority still look for apartments page
across the island. However, a good number of tenants are looking for quality houses with gardens and pools, and these remain harder to find. A RECENT LANDMARK STUDY BY THE HOUSING AUTHORITY COMPARED THE RENTAL PRICES OF TWO-BEDROOM APARTMENTS IN DIFFERENT LOCATIONS ACROSS MALTA. IT MAY HAVE BEEN QUITE PERPLEXING FOR SOME TO SEE A PROPERTY IN K ALK AR A RENTING ON AVER AGE FOR AS MUCH AS IN VALLETTA OR TA' XBIEX AND TRIPLE THE AMOUNT OF PROPERTY IN RABAT. WHAT RAISES THE RENTAL VALUE OF A PROPERTY, AND WHAT DECREASES IT? IS IT JUST THE LOCATION? Yes, location is a key determining factor, as it is all around the globe. The harbour areas, Valletta and the Sliema, St Julian's surrounding areas, will always command higher prices than most other locations on the island.
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Higher priced properties have also been selling well.
ARE THERE ANY INCENTIVES YOU WOULD LIKE TO IMPLEMENT TO HELP ANY PARTICULAR AREA OF THE PROPERTY MARKET AT THIS POINT? I believe it is now high time to put some proper and more motivating incentives to encourage investors to invest in converting or upgrading existing older properties, rather than just looking to develop more new property. For example, many towns and village centres still have neglected old-style mezzanini or townhouses in the village core, which are often not an ideal home and not interesting to an investor/developer due to the development limitations. However, if proper incentives are in place, a small-scale project might still be feasible on the property if one
were to convert the property for rental or resale purposes. HOW DO YOU ENVISION THE SALES AND RENTAL SITUATION UNTIL THE END OF THE YEAR? At this stage, I doubt that much will change until the end of the year unless the country takes another big COVID hit, which we obviously hope we are now past. On the other hand, I also believe that some people who might have bought a property in a rush in recent years and, likewise, those less experienced developers or investors who are possibly overexposed on the projects or sites they have committed to, could take a hit once COVID measures/assistance and leniency from banks diminish. page
GROWTH GORDON THEOBALD is the founder of Businesslabs, a shared workspace concept. He opens up with RONALD CASSAR about the challenges an emerging industry faces in Malta.
Gordon Theobald is a member of The Malta Chamber representing B2B Malta Ltd.
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WORDS RONALD CASSAR
Businesslabs originated from Gordon Theobald’s personal experience working freelance remotely and the desire to meet like-minded individuals and businesses. Set up to provide a fully functional workspace to freelancers and SMEs, as the name implies, Businesslabs was always intended to mature into a business hub where entrepreneurs can mingle, share knowledge, and grow their network. With this in mind, seminars, monthly networking events, project presentation sessions, and other informal events attended by hundreds of people at different stages of their business or educational journey were regularly organised before the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc. “Our membership plans come inclusive of all office amenities and are structured to mirror the growth of many businesses, from the first steps flying solo to closing the first clients and the on-boarding of the first employees by structuring entry co-working price plans, providing reasonably priced meeting spaces and all-inclusive serviced office space. We provide everything a business requires, guaranteeing a reasonable, fixed, and
predictable cost month on month and taking care of all things to do with workspace management so that our client can focus on what they do best - their core business,” explains Mr Theobald. Mr Theobald started Businesslabs under B2BMALTA Limited [www.b2bmalta.com]. Just out of University, he started his career in a corporate environment with local and international assignments, and in his mid-twenties, he started his own freelance business. “Without knowing the ins and outs of running a business and with no family business background, no ‘big idea’, a whole lot of uncertainty and a good dose of naivety, I left a stif ling job and ventured into the great unknown. “Fifteen years later, with several business ventures under my belt, with more than 30,000 billable service hours and various degrees of socially benchmarked successes and failures, 2017 was the year to take it to another level – enter Business Debt (or as it is called in the industry, ‘financing’). Businesslabs Flexible Workspace [www.businesslabsmalta.com]
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Today, it seems we compete with the real estate market, and undoubtedly many do not make the distinction; a latent need that still is to be fully discovered and put to the test. opened its doors mid-2017 after a soft launch of six months and has been an integral part of our operation ever since.” Throughout the years, Mr Theobald has been involved in various projects through partner agencies, associated companies, or directly, fulfilling multiple assignments related to industry and consumer research, business and marketing plan development and successful funding applications. “I was involved in several successful high-level outsourcing tenders and their
implementation/project management. I have remained a firm believer in social and business transactions and searched for such solutions even in some uniquely challenging scenarios.
myself with people who enhance my life experience. I am also a firm believer that education should be the core of any strong society, where the learning experience should be a lifetime commitment,” he says.
“However, I can say with some confidence that a ‘mutually beneficial relationship’ is not always an easy task. One must become comfortable with disappointment and use it as motivation to build bigger and better opportunities. Going against the grain often in a manner that frustrates people around me - I believe in surrounding
The company’s customer focus has seen an increased interest from young entrepreneurs throughout the past years to use their premises and avail themselves of an open support network. Businesslabs provide spaces and support free of charge to any educational organisation and student as part of its culture and belief.
Issue 96 They have significantly reduced rates for students intending to undertake a business venture and also offer support building towards that step. “I feel that the industry in which Businesslabs operates is still young in Malta. While we have seen many new and positive initiatives in the past couple of years, the public offering seems to fall short of what I feel such spaces should be, facilitators of growth and innovation. Today, it seems we compete with the real estate market, and undoubtedly many do not make the distinction; a latent need that still is to be fully discovered and put to the test. “We have long been advocates against silos in Malta and have taken every opportunity to build bridges with all stakeholders in the private sector, government, academia, and social enterprises. A well-balanced and collaborative ecosystem should allow all stakeholders to contribute and create win-win scenarios for all. However, Malta still seems to lag behind in terms of the right ecosystem for start-up companies.” Mr Theobald feels that foreign companies are often given certain advantages simply because they are foreign; in certain circumstances, authorities adopt a short-term outlook towards supporting local start-ups. There are possibly more attempts today to create this ecosystem than ever before. Locally, there was a shift towards remote work even before the pandemic kicked in, and preliminary results from a local study
show that several businesses have been considering hybrid work arrangements for some time. Whether it is from home or anywhere else, the traditional office setup has long been challenged, with some local companies adopting hot-desking arrangements, flexible work, or fully remote arrangements with varying levels of success. Results also show that foreign companies in Malta are also more inclined to offer remote-working opportunities than their local counterparts. The consideration seems to stem from a concern with employee wellbeing and prospective cost-saving. COVID-19 has accelerated the process, where businesses were forced to consider other alternative work arrangements. Employers who thought that they would not manage to adapt were forced to, and as often happens, began adopting measures that have long found uptake in other similarly developed and well-connected countries. “We know that Malta offers a significant advantage to foreign companies from an enterprise perspective. While cost is possibly not much of a consideration for such companies, we noticed that a number are also embracing a hybrid approach to work. Enhanced regulatory compliance requirements in specific sectors also have a substantial effect on market changes and therefore, one can start to understand the adoption of risk-mitigating measures in those companies where one would have thought would be last to be phased by the COVID-19 repercussions.
The pandemic has also uncovered other hidden areas of focus. Mental health, for instance, is a topic that has gained more traction throughout this period. Understanding how mental health impacts employees, mental health coverage in health care plans, employee assistance programmes, reducing stigma and increasing access to mental health resources are drivers towards promoting enhanced employee wellbeing. This allows businesses to create opportunities for employees to build connections through social events, affinity groups, and offsite events. With a hybrid approach, workspaces such as Businesslabs are an attractive tool for any business. Locally, there is mixed feedback on whether businesses are ready to abandon the more traditional workspace and office environment. Companies are recalling back their employees working remotely, with some facing resistance while others great enthusiasm. Time will tell, but the lessons learnt from this pandemic will benefit flexible workspaces like Businesslabs. Finance experts say that Covid-19 brought the most severe financial crisis with it since the Great Depression, sparking a global recession. “Throughout this period, we kept a close eye on market developments. We assessed how more prominent players reacted and how the Government responded regarding implementing remote working initiatives. We scrutinised the incentives that were
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made available, incentivised our community with reduced fees and better payment terms, and kept ourselves alive while finding ways to reduce costs and keep most of our business partners satisfied. “With significant pressures from banks, landlords, and suppliers daily, we most certainly considered all options. It was frustrating not being eligible for any incentives, possibly being one of those businesses that ‘fell between the cracks and were ‘weakly represented’, as we were often told. “This contrasted sharply with the incentives being attained by other business segments who have more clout and reach. In the interim, we have also observed how influential groups managed to undermine other people’s businesses and established businesses have muscled smaller companies, also into a submissive and reluctant acquisition. Banks undertaking a significant restructuring process of their operations began burdening legitimate clients with new and discriminatory conditions on EU funded loans and a sudden U-turn on risk appetite,” Mr Theobald argues. The company tackled specific challenges immediately, but there was no way to avoid others, especially in an environment of total uncertainty. From an operation point of view, they had to halt all social, educational, and networking events. There was undoubtedly much time for some soul searching, and Businesslabs went back to a clear realisation of what it was set up to do and where it needed to go.
They also took this opportunity to pave the way for this retransformation. Businesses have now experienced significant cost saving in maximising their spaces through a hybrid approach, and employees seem more productive. On the other hand, employees are reluctant to return to prelockdown arrangements, favouring a better work-life balance and fewer risks. However, it is also evident by the many repercussions such as mental health, family pressures and lack of an escape valve that employees need some form of interaction with others. Many have been advocating a hybrid approach to work, where more than ever, a decentralised system is no longer a wish but a must. “Things are not going to return to the way they were - nor should they. Technology has proven that much of our work can be done efficiently away from the workplace. Businesses are questioning the need for travel at former levels and the rent expense of returning to centralised workplaces. These considerations, and more, are among those that present opportunities within a recovery.” A hybrid approach also means that, more than ever, the validity of a shared workspace and co-working spaces that nurture mingling and collaboration. The basis of any co-working space is building a community of like-minded individuals, which is why they inspire members to move around the premises. At Businesslabs, the lounge and shared areas give people the chance to meet new individuals from a plethora of
backgrounds. In the span of five minutes, you can network with a finance wizard, an artist or a software developer; if you add in the many events, the opportunities to knit a community increase even further. Mr Theobald continues, “we need an equal playing field for all to thrive. We need to work as one and look at the bigger picture. Fragmentation on our small islands is what keeps us small. We cannot have authorities that, on the one hand, are promoting the Maltese business and the other incentivising foreign competition and providing more than there are for the local entrepreneurs. If we are to punch above our weight, collaboration is vital. “A business which does not plan to attract new clients is a dying business. We are therefore reaching out in ways we did not do before. We will continue to offer value and flexibility. We will continue seeking ongoing collaborative initiatives from those that share our same vision; by being innovators, by being ourselves and strong to our values, by ensuring safety, by continuing our effort to widen our community and to provide more growth opportunities to those that work with us, and by our mantra to invest in relationships, not return. “We will continue to solidify our differentiator from simply an office space solution to being a catalyst of change. We will continue to offer a f lexible workspace, providing the industry with a place they can call home, where small businesses can find the support they need to have significant impacts, a place where there is always space for growth.”
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WORDS DR Chris agius
VIRTUAL REALITY Many are investing in cryptocurrencies in the hope of making a quick buck or investing long-term. But how safe is it to invest in cryptocurrency, especially in the light of recent events that showed how volatile this market could be? DR CHRIS AGIUS, Partner, Regulatory Services a CSA Group and a member within the VFA business section, speaks about the pros and cons of investing in cryptocurrencies.
Dr Chris Agius
There are several reasons why a person may choose to acquire cryptocurrencies. The most common incentive behind such acquisitions is based on speculative trading, whereby the expectation would be for that particular asset to have a significant gain in value over a period of time resulting in a profit for the purchaser. However, when it comes to cryptocurrencies, there is also a substantial risk of such assets losing value. This can result in hefty losses being suffered by investors due to the volatility in these new emerging markets. For this reason, people must always manage their expectations and ensure that they follow the golden rule of not investing money that they cannot afford to lose. Not all cryptocurrencies are the same. The local legislator has opted for the term ‘distributed ledger technology assets’ (DLT assets) to capture the wide variety of assets that currently exist and operate using this relatively new and innovative technology. The majority of DLT assets that have become popular with retail investors can intrinsically be used as either a digital medium of exchange or otherwise as a store of value.
The main concept behind these assets is that of decentralisation, whereby, in theory, there would not be any central authority having control over the supply or price of that particular asset. The wider adoption these types of assets manage to have, the more decentralised and secure they should become. There has also been a very popular trend for both public and private organisations to issue DLT assets whose utility, value or application would be designed primarily for the acquisition of goods or services being offered by that issuer. Initial coin offerings became a very popular way for enterprises to raise funds, in return for which they would provide the initial subscribers with native tokens at discounted prices that can be exchanged for future services or goods. Speculative trading has had a significant impact on the actual application of their initial intended use. Secondary markets and other intermediaries have facilitated, direct or indirect, peer-topeer trading, which was instrumental in allowing for a point of entry to the retail market and for liquidity to be sustained. This,
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The major disadvantage is that, due to the infancy of the industry, there is still little to no regulation for service providers that are key to the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies.
of course, comes at a cost whereby volatility in prices is frequently experienced, whereby exposure to market abuse or manipulation always plays a significant factor. There will always be pros and cons to acquiring cryptocurrencies or any other type of financial asset, as with everything else. My personal view is that the major advantage of acquiring such assets, apart from the potential monetary gains through participating early on, is that it provides the opportunity for people to get a glimpse of how our financial system will change in the future. The intermediary processes that are common within our existing economies, which allow for control and trust in humans, would be eradicated, allowing for people to regain full control over how they use their money. Cryptography applied within the technology itself also allows for proper security mechanisms to be put in place whilst allows for transparency and privacy to coexist. The major disadvantage is that, due to the infancy of the industry, there is still little to no regulation for service providers that are key to the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies. This has allowed for certain abuses to occur, usually at the detriment of the customer, which has and will continue to harm the reputation of the industry at large. Malta has been
amongst the first jurisdictions to cater for this lack of legal certainty through the implementation of a robust regulatory framework. However, not all countries have chosen to take the same approach. It is for this reason that I always encourage people to look towards regulated operators when dealing with DLT assets to mitigate this risk as much as possible (and indirectly promote those companies which have chosen to invest in the future and regulate their operations, including through obtaining licences issued and supervised by the Malta Financial Services Authority). Especially in the light of the decision certain countries like China, Iran and Turkey are taking, which may hinder cryptocurrency use. Personally speaking, I believe that it is only normal that certain countries known for their totalitarian regimes feel threatened by the changes that cryptocurrencies may bring about. We have already started to witness a shift in mentality in their constituents whereby due to hyperinflation, people are more willing to retain their savings in virtual assets rather than in their national currency. Furthermore, the decentralised concept behind cryptocurrencies will take away power from the State to dictate how people should be allowed to spend their hard-earned money. page
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Notwithstanding, though such a challenge presented by these jurisdictions to prohibit the use of cryptocurrency may delay the widespread adoption, it will surely not end it. Similar to how previous societies did not switch to cash overnight, the same principle should apply in this regard. Not everyone stands to gain through changing to virtual assets, which are ultimately more traceable than cash. At the time of writing, El Salvador became the first jurisdiction to make bitcoin a legal tender, and it won’t be unlikely that other countries will start to follow suit. Also, the tweet of Elon Musk did not leave a good impact on ETH and Bitcoin. Do you think this effect will be short-lived, and we will witness a rise in the currencies once again? Without going into specific cases or individuals, I believe that regulation of the industry is the only way that investor protection can be assured in the long term. National regulators have to carry
the responsibility of ensuring that, similar to traditional financial markets, proper enforcement of the rules would be carried to ensure a level playing field and prevent abuse. Now that publicly traded companies have also started to acquire and hold cryptocurrencies on their books, the risk is even higher as certain advertisement, and social media inf luence over cryptocurrencies may have an indirect correlation with the stock price of that company. Regulators should be on the lookout for such type of behaviour whilst from an ethical point of view, senior managing officials of such companies should be aware that certain comments may have an adverse effect on the secondary markets. We have also witnessed many well-known investment firms and banks backtracking on their stance when it comes to cryptocurrencies. It is crucial for regulators to make sure that such corporations do not influence the secondary markets with their continuous shifts in opinion.
The major advantage of acquiring such type of assets, apart from the potential monetary gains through participating early on, is that it provides the opportunity for people to get a glimpse of how our financial system will change in the future …
The members and followers of the Malta Chamber have more than likely noticed a series of articles on real estate being published on the Chamber’s various media pages over the past weeks. So, is the Investment Forum just a blog on real estate? Not quite. The Investment Forum is an initiative by the Malta Chamber and various private practitioners such as the Investment Hub and myself. It aims to educate, entertain, and encourage debate between investors, academics, and practising professionals in multiple, diverse investment and market research and practice aspects. Starting with a blog, the Investment Forum aims to assist the Malta Chamber in achieving its principal mission: to “ensure that entrepreneurs enjoy the best competitive environment and regulatory conditions possible for the conduct of business”.
Furthermore, the blog also aims to provide a cumulative source of reference material to deliver the most comprehensive local source of investment updates, analysis and insights, which we have realised is greatly needed in Malta. We have many articles lined up from authors based on the following categories:
The Investment Forum proposes to support this mission by creating a network and platform that will support a broad team of competent thinkers through different media, such as articles, studies, lectures, and events, which aims to improve the market and investment decision-making skills in Malta. In this uncertain and ever-changing world of investments, the market needs to have clarity. In addition, investors must have quick access to accurate information and professional and independent advice to make informed investment decisions. Thus, it is somewhat surprising to note the lack of literature and mature conversations on markets and investments, all of which are popular and contentious areas.
Whilst, as mentioned above, we have started with the topic of real estate, the blog will not only be limited to this sector, but all types of investments as real estate have become more correlated with larger capital markets (and as this is not only the Chamber of Real Estate!). We will shortly be expanding our content to stocks and crypto and are looking to expand to other investment assets such as the cannabis market, the arts and more.
This blog is one tool to kick-start this conversation by publishing and promoting quality contributions and articles with a theoretical and practical relevance to all types of investments. These will touch on a wide range of topics that address subjects of significant interest and practical importance to investors, keeping them upto-date with developments in the financial and capital markets.
• market summary reports; • insights and opinion pieces from leading stakeholders; • the analysis and promotion of key data and studies; and • education and practice briefings.
Our next milestone is a networking event in Q3 2021, followed by a series of interviews and market reports. Other medium-to-long term aims include lectures and conferences and the commission of studies. We are convinced that our work will provide a foundation for confident markets and welcomes articles from any stakeholder contributing to this conversation. In addition, we have a special interest in research that can be useful to the business decision-maker in areas such as development, finance, management, market analysis, investment, and valuation. page
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THE INVESTMENT FORUM
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01. MALTA BUSINESS CONFIDENCE EXPECTED TO FOLLOW THE US AND UK POSITIVE INCREASE IN COMING MONTHS "The closure of establishments at short notice and the increase in restrictions in mid-March shocked the system and dealt a blow to short-term business confidence," said Ms Marisa Xuereb, President of The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, during a webinar held in collaboration with Vistage Malta. "The results of the Q2 index show that our businesses are less buoyant about economic growth than they were in Q1 of this year, possibly attributed to the delays in kickstarting economic activities across many sectors, combined with an element of 'fatigue'. Overall, however, businesses wish for even more clarity on timelines for travel, international trade, incentives for investment, and continued support for talent retention, the latter being the main concern for most businesses," said Mr Nathan Farrugia, Managing Director of Vistage Malta. Addressing attendees during the webinar, Mr Joe Galvin, Chief Research Officer at Vistage Worldwide Inc., noted that "The surge in optimism in the US and UK is driven by the belief that an end is in sight for the pandemic. Vaccines are driving that confidence as those verticals that thrived in the pandemic continues to be strong while those that suffered most, like travel, leisure and hospitality, are just beginning their recovery. Malta, like many other parts of the world, trails the US/UK in vaccine rates. As Europe and others close that gap, a resurgence fueled by pent-up demand for travel will be the catalyst for the next growth wave."
02. PROJECT LAUNCHED BY THE CHAMBER AND HSBC MALTA FOUNDATION TO HELP ACHIEVE NATIONAL CLIMATE GOALS The Malta Chamber and HSBC Malta Foundation launched the sustainability project titled "Establishing Malta's Framework for a Net Zero Carbon Building", targeting the country's building and construction sector with the goal of raising standards in energy efficiency and conservation. The intended framework is inspired by models such as LEED certification.
"Every green innovation opens new doors and makes new policy instruments possible. By working hand in hand, the public and private sector can unlock the greatest potential both for the country and for the planet," said Hon. Miriam Dalli, Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Sustainable Development. "The private sector is seeking to define methods of how to establish Malta's Framework for a Zero Carbon Building in line with international certifications methods such as LEED. Our motto is to work towards transforming the built environment to make it healthier and more sustainable. It is not too late to re-define our ways; we simply need to act fast and use the right tools and methods," said Ing. Abigail Cutajar. Over the next couple of years, a team led by The Malta Chamber will establish the sustainability benchmarks that Malta currently lacks in the sector, concluding with the framework itself. Funded by the HSBC Malta Foundation, the project reflects the commitment of both parties towards a bright, sustainable island in line with Malta's climate commitments.
03. BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN EDUCATION AND THE WORKPLACE During the launch of the MCAST Prospectus for 20212022, the President of The Malta Chamber, Marisa Xuereb, weighed in on the important role that this vocational education institution plays in bridging the gap between education and the workplace. Ms Xuereb, who also forms part of the MCAST Board of Governors, noted that the College holds the key towards an enhanced educational system that prepares students for careers of the future. "Vocational education is at the heart of MCAST's mission, and its
President of The Malta Chamber, Marisa Xuereb, has stated that "This project is just one of the many initiatives The Malta Chamber has embarked on, with many more to come, to push towards helping our members contribute to and thrive in a strong, healthy and sustainable decarbonised economy which delivers on wellbeing and quality of life. Simon Vaughan Johnson, HSBC Malta CEO, said: "As a bank that is constantly investing in the long-term success of the communities in which we operate, we believe that this is both a compelling and far-reaching project which we anticipate will have a positive impact on the environment and therefore the social wellbeing of Malta's citizens."
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Issue 96 success in fulfilling its role as it celebrates 20 years since its establishment depends on how industry-driven and futurefocused its courses are. This requires constant dialogue between MCAST and industry, and the agility to respond to changing needs very quickly," said The Chamber President.
04. MALTA CHAMBER COLLABORATION WITH WESTERN UNION BUSINESS SOLUTIONS TO ENHANCE PROVISION OF RETAIL OMNICHANNEL SOLUTIONS Speaking during the signing of a Collaboration Agreement between Malta Chamber and Western Union Business Solutions (WUBS), Ms Marisa Xuereb, Malta Chamber President, explained how over the past months, there were accelerated trends in both consumer expectation and business behaviour which brought changes in supply chains and cross border trade which unleashed reinvigorated needs towards instant digital payments.
the main thematics that have been identified by the newly elected Chamber Board of Management and Council which will lead to better education for all, more opportunities for everyone, sustainable growth and development, as well as policy support to help overcome the new realities and customer behaviour brought about by the pandemic. The Malta Chamber thanks H.E The President for the fruitful discussion and pledges to remain Malta's true voice of business through the provision of holistic, collective vision, well-researched approaches and unbiased forecasts. The delegation was led by President Ms Marisa Xuereb who was accompanied by Deputy President Mr Christopher Vassallo Cesareo, Vice-President Mr Nicholas Xuereb and new CEO Dr Marthese Portelli.
05. THE MALTA CHAMBER WELCOMES REGENERATION ECONOMIC SUPPORT MEASURES LAUNCHED BY GOVERNMENT The Malta Chamber welcomes the launch of the regeneration incentives that have been announced by the Government in addition to top-ups to existing direct support schemes. The regeneration incentives go beyond addressing the immediate liquidity needs and are aimed at supporting and re-energising businesses and the Maltese economy in the process of recovery. The Malta Chamber applauds the enhanced Business Re-Engineering and Transformation Scheme – 'Change to Grow', which it had championed since its inception back in June 2020.
Mr Mark Anthony Camilleri, Country Manager and Executive Director of Western Union Business Solutions, stated that "As one of the leading providers in the payments industry, WUBS is very pleased to partner with the Malta Chamber to serve and support the preparedness of local businesses to grow internationally." WUBS has been paired with Malta Chamber's Trade & Consumer Goods Committee to raise awareness on matters concerning payment solutions to enhance retail omnichannel opportunities matching consumer preferences, safely.
05. MALTA CHAMBER PAYS COURTESY CALL ON H.E. THE PRESIDENT OF MALTA Discussions focused on the initiatives that The Chamber is currently working on as well as
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The Restart Incentive Scheme, another initiative proposed by The Malta Chamber, is also highly commendable. "In addition to business advisory support, it includes professional psychological support that shows commitment to safeguarding the mental wellbeing of entrepreneurs who are having a particularly tough time as a result of the unprecedented challenges brought about by the pandemic," said Chamber President Ms Marisa Xuereb.
06. A RETAIL RESPONSE TO THE CRISES: TURNING A STEEP CHALLENGE INTO AN UNPRECEDENTED OPPORTUNITY A few days after several Maltese non-essential shop owners re-opened, the retail industry finds itself striving to work towards a value proposition tailored, more than ever, to the online world, seamlessly to the physical one. The Malta Chamber launched the second virtual event within a digital platform it published in February, creating an international marketplace for local and international players centred around retail and manufacturing. Over 210 business representatives from 27 countries registered in the virtual platform launched by The Malta Chamber, facilitating business interaction amongst 63 local and international operators in retail and manufacturing, 78 service providers, 20 educational and public stakeholders and 17 project partners and EU funding experts. Around 150 meetings were held during one-toone online sessions, which were hosted within the multipurpose platform, with all meetings pre-arranged by the participants themselves.
07. MALTA CHAMBER WELCOMES FAVOURABLE MONEYVAL VOTE The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry are pleased to see that the Council of Europe's anti-money laundering expert committee has voted in favour of approving a final report on Malta. Whilst welcoming this news, The Malta Chamber believes it is imperative to ensure continued observance of the anti-money laundering measures whilst ensuring the processes adopted do not impose disproportionate bureaucratic burdens on the financial services industry. The Malta Chamber stresses that success can only be achieved through a unified approach. All efforts need to be focused on maintaining the highest standards through constant proactive action and keeping transparency at the forefront.
08 NEW EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES BUSINESS SECTION WITHIN THE MALTA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE The Malta Chamber has launched a new business section for employment agencies to bring together supporting recruitment agencies and employment services firms operating in Malta. Mr Lawrence Zammit, Founding Partner & Director at MISCO was elected Chairperson of this new section. "Employment services activities have increased significantly over the years as job opportunities grew and new career paths opened. This has encouraged a number of players in this sector to come together to ensure that there is a level playing field in the market and to encourage service providers to develop a more professional approach when servicing their customers," said Mr Zammit.
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Issue 96 09 THE MALTA CHAMBER OUTLINES PRIORITIES FOR RECOVERY The Malta Chamber held a virtual meeting with the Hon Prime Minister Dr Abela to introduce the new Board of Management and put forward its priorities for the coming months. The Minister for Economy, Hon Silvio Schembri was also present. The Malta Chamber President Marisa Xuereb raised several issues which are impacting business and how they can be addressed to fuel recovery and encourage growth. The President spoke on the challenges and uncertainty being faced by a number of economic sectors such as tourism, arts, entertainment, elderly care and retail. Better access to finance and clarity on the future of the wage supplement would facilitate business planning and investment. Reference was made to public procurement and the need to enhance transparency and ensure a level playing field. The Malta Chamber presented its policy paper in response to the public consultation on the proposed Recreational Cannabis Reform.
10 THE MALTA CHAMBER INSISTS ON REMAINING FOCUSED ON REDUCING CASE NUMBERS The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry acknowledge the disappointment of the tourism industry after Malta did not make it in the UK's green travel list. Worth noting that Malta came a long way in terms of reducing case numbers in a relatively short span of time. Although there's a sense of frustration and disappointment, it is worth highlighting that when considering the current number of cases per 100,000, Malta is only marginally higher than Portugal that made it on the UK list. The Malta Chamber said that other countries such as Germany have already declared Malta to be no longer a Covid-19 risk area.
The Malta Chamber believes that this bodes well for the addition of Malta to the UK's green list at the earliest opportunity. Therefore, it is imperative that we remain focused on reducing case numbers further and achieving herd immunity through vaccination as quickly as possible.
11. PROMOTING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN GOZO The Gozo Business Chamber and The Malta Chamber are concerned with the way development is happening in Gozo. Gozo has a unique character which both Chambers believe has immense potential for a more sustainable economic development and growth that respects the island's culture and authenticity. During a joint media conference at the Cittadella, the President of the Gozo Business Chamber, Joseph Borg, highlighted that the Chamber is in favour of sustainable development, which promotes quality construction that embellishes the environment and not abuses it. In this context, both Chambers said that the property and construction industry should be incentivised to move towards more sustainable development. "Gozo has a unique character. Its uniqueness contributes directly to our competitiveness and it is our duty to ensure that the industry develops in a way which takes into account the unique fabric and character of our islands, the challenges posed by climate change, and the wellbeing of the community at large" the President of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, Marisa Xuereb said.
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12 SUPPORTING YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS THROUGH INVALUABLE' THE MALTA CHAMBER' MEMBERSHIP "Awards nights such as these are imperative in celebrating talent, initiatives, ideas, resilience and teamwork among young people, the business leaders of tomorrow," said Marisa Xuereb, President of The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry during the JAYE Malta Finals and Awards Night 2021.
13 NAO REPORT ON SVPR CONFIRMS THE CRITICAL NEED FOR A HOLISTIC REFORM IN PUBLIC PROCUREMENT Noting the conclusions reached by the NAO report on the contract awarded to the JCL and MHC Consortium, The Malta Chamber insists on full transparency in public procurement and on the importance of observing good governance principles as well as providing an equal playing field for all at all times.
While congratulating the winners, the President of the Malta Chamber outlined how inspirational these young achievers have been in showcasing tremendous perseverance. In this context, Ms. Xuereb announced that all the members of the winning teams will receive a complimentary one-year membership at The Malta Chamber.
As public procurement accounts for a substantial portion of the taxpayers' money, governments are expected to carry it out efficiently and with high standards of conduct to ensure high quality of service delivery and safeguard the public interest.
"This will provide the teams behind Candid! and SILENTSAVE with a great opportunity to inspire and contribute to the future of The Malta Chamber," said the President of Malta's foremost voice of business.
Public procurement represents an important and significant component of business opportunities. The Malta Chamber will continue advocating for the implementation of its Public Procurement Reform 2021 recommendations as it ensures a sound market based on ethical standards and fair competition.
14. THE 'GREAT RESET': HOW CAN THE EU DRIVE A POST COVID RECOVERY? "The commitment to working together on tackling climate change is driven by the challenges and experienced we've endured over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic," said Marisa Xuereb, President of The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry during a webinar organised by CORE Platform entitled 'How can the EU drive a post COVID Recovery?' Marisa Xuereb noted that this 'great reset' brought along a much-needed shift in mindset both locally and internationally. "Although the EU is setting out plans to tackle climate change issues unless funds are allocated towards measurable objectives, an end goal might not be reached," said Ms Xuereb. The President of the Malta Chamber said that as with COVID, the EU is as successful as its weakest link, and assistance must be provided on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the common goal is reached successfully.
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Issue 96 15. THE MALTA CHAMBER EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES COMMITTEE STRESSES THE IMPORTANCE OF ENFORCEMENT OF UNLICENSED OPERATORS The newly launched Employment Agencies Business Section within the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry strongly condemns levying fees from candidates looking for employment. Section 8e of the law clearly states that the Director of Labour may refuse an application for a licence or revoke a licence if an agency charged any fees or demanded any payment from applicants for employment. The Chairperson of the section, Mr Lawrence Zammit, said that law enforcement in private employment services is sorely lacking. The Malta Chamber's objective is to ensure a level playing field in the market and an upgrade in the quality of service delivered to employers and job seekers.
16. LIZ BARBARO SANT APPOINTED NEW CHAIRPERSON OF TRADEMALTA Liz Barbaro Sant, Vice President of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, has been appointed as the new Chairperson of TradeMalta, replacing Stephen Sultana, who held the position for the past two years. Following the Annual General Meeting of TradeMalta held in a hybrid format, Liz Barbaro Sant said that internationalisation has become increasingly important for the competitiveness of enterprises of all sizes. "In today's environment, it grants a true independence from the local market business cycles," said Ms Barbaro Sant. The new Chairperson of the public-private partnership between the government and the Malta Chamber of Commerce said that "sometimes it might become complicated for small and medium-size companies to understand the tendencies of the world's economy when trying to explore new commercial opportunities, and this is where Trade Malta comes in to support and assist any size company."
17. GOVERNMENT & OPPOSITION SHOULD ACT AS ENABLERS AND LET BUSINESSES DRIVE ECONOMIC GROWTH The Malta Chamber has held a meeting with the Leader of the Opposition, Dr Bernard Grech, during which it introduced the new Board of Management and put forward its priorities for the coming months. The Malta Chamber insists on the importance of having the right environment which enables the private sector to drive economic growth. Government and the Opposition should only act as enablers, providing business and enterprise with the right framework that allows them to flourish in an equitable and fair manner.
While calling for political consensus on long-term challenges such as overdevelopment, The Malta Chamber discussed the Opposition's position on the proposed European directive on minimum wages and sought clarification on the recent statements by the Opposition Leader on a 'fairer taxation system for small businesses.' The Chamber supports a reduction in tax if it does not discriminate between one business or another.
18. THE MALTA CHAMBER WARNS OF A WORRYING PRECEDENT FOR LAWABIDING TAXPAYERS The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry is vociferous in its call to represent ethical business across Malta, and the recent media reports of 'substantial tax reductions to tax offenders' are setting a very worrying precedent. Malta is struggling to crack down on tax evasion and such 'tax deals' continue to weaken compliance with the rule of law and foster a culture of corruption. Government and Contracting authorities must promote a levelplaying field among all economic operators and reward those who comply with the law, not only because it is the right thing to do, but also to safeguard the competitiveness of operators who comply with the law as against those who disrespect the law. In its report on 'Public Procurement Reform' published earlier this year, the Malta Chamber calls on authorities, namely the Department of Contracts and the Inland Revenue Department to create systems of seamless integration which would automatically flag economic operators who have pending social security payments, tax arrears and if no settlement agreement is in place.
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19. THE MALTA CHAMBER WELCOMES THE NEW ROUND OF VOUCHERS The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry welcome the announcement on the second round of €100 stimulus vouchers which will inject a much-needed impetus into the economy. The vouchers come at a very critical time for businesses, especially for those working in the tourism industry. The Malta Chamber has taken an active role in helping put industry on a recovery path and shape a more competitive post-Covid Malta and has repeatedly insisted that vaccination is key in being travel-ready. The Chamber commends the Maltese authorities for the faster-thanexpected vaccination rollout. The Chamber also welcomes the decision taken by EU member states to ease COVID-19 travel restrictions on non-EU visitors and to let in fully vaccinated tourists.
20. THE MALTA CHAMBER WELCOMES HERD IMMUNITY BUT THE REAL TEST IS YET TO COME The Malta Chamber welcomes the announcement that Malta is achieving herd immunity but warns that the pandemic is not yet behind us and we are still far off from business as usual. Many businesses, which played a critical role in achieving herd immunity, are still on survival mode, and they can only thrive if there is certainty, visibility and consumer confidence. The EU's Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRP) lies squarely at the heart of this response. While 23 EU member states have already drafted, consulted and submitted their RRP plans for approval by the EU, Malta has not yet submitted its plans. The Malta Chamber believes that RRP is crucial for businesses to start planning on how to thrive instead of how to survive. No sector should be forgotten or left behind. Every job is important. Every sector is important.
21. THE MALTA CHAMBER SUPPORTS SUSTAINABLE ENTERPRISE INITIATIVE "Businesses are faced with ever-increasing pressures and responsibilities to go green and to embark on this green journey, the partnership between private enterprise and government is not an option but a must," said Marisa Xuereb, President of The Malta Chamber. The President of the Malta Chamber was addressing attendees during the 'Sustainable Enterprise Initiative' organised by the Ministry for Energy, Enterprise and Sustainable Development. The Malta Chamber is supporting this initiative in identifying potential enterprises willing to consider investments in energy efficiency ad sustainability. The Sustainable Enterprise Initiative provided additional visibility to a number of options available for Maltese
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Issue 96 companies to support their investments in energy efficiency and sustainability-related projects by both government entities and local banks.
22. THE MEDICAL CANNABIS INDUSTRY EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE CONGRATULATES TWO OF ITS MEMBERS ON BEING GRANTED A LICENSE BY THE MALTA MEDICINES AUTHORITY TO PRODUCE MEDICAL CANNABIS LOCALLY Following a rigorous regulatory process that ensures the best medicinal product is made available on the market in accordance with EU GMP standards, ASG Pharma was the first licensed company to be licenced to produce Medical Cannabis in Malta, followed by ZenPharm. A third company Materia Ltd. is in the process of obtaining its license and has already received its EU GMP certification. These licences ensure that patients are receiving products originating from the scientific advancements in medical cannabis, which are of the highest quality, the most secure, and effective on the market. The Malta Chamber welcomes this achievement which emerged from the setting up of the Business Section on Medical Cannabis within the Chamber a year ago.
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23. MALTA CHAMBER TOURISM BUSINESS SECTION WELCOMES LEGAL NOTICE FACILITATING SAFE TRAVELLING TO AND FROM MALTA The Tourism Business Section within The Malta Chamber welcomes the legal notice on the conditions to be imposed on persons travelling to and from Malta as it charts the way to open and facilitate travel safely. The Legal Notice makes the requirement to present a negative PCR result prior to boarding. This brings Malta on similar lines to other countries. The Tourism Business Section believes that this is critical to provide reassurance for travellers and locals while facilitating travel in a meaningful way.
24. THE MALTA CHAMBER SIGNS MOU WITH THE MALTA CHAMBER OF CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT TO SUPPORT ETHICAL CONSTRUCTION DEVELOPMENT The Malta Chamber and the Malta Chamber of Construction Management signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aimed at supporting the business and development of the construction industry. "The MCCM will be representing the various levels of construction management. MCCM is very pleased to have reached this agreement with the highly reputable Malta Chamber. This close collaboration will help to address issues of concerns
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and the finding of solutions," said Mr Chetcuti, President of the Malta Chamber of Construction Management.
25. THE MALTA CHAMBER AND PT MATIC STRENGTHEN TIES The Malta Chamber has renewed its Bronze Collaboration Agreement with PT Matic Environmental Services Ltd. For the second consecutive year, PT Matic will be paired with The Malta Chamber's 'Circular Economy Committee' to provide leadership support to the business matters related to sustainability and resource management. Ahead of the signing, Ms Marisa Xuereb, President of The Malta Chamber, noted that the continuation of this partnership ref lects the essential work that has been carried out between both parties in the last year in exploring possibilities and future global economic scenarios to forecast and advise on required strategies and resources.
26. CONCERNS FLAGGED IN NAO REPORT ON FORMER ITS SITE REMAIN UNADDRESSED Just over a year ago, in April 2020, the NAO report on the disposal of the ITS site highlighted a number of serious concerns about the regularity or otherwise of the tender for the transfer of public land. The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry
felt compelled to call for transparent, honest, detailed, and comprehensive explanations of the NAO's doubts. Just over a year later, these doubts and questions have remained unaddressed. The Malta Chamber insists on full transparency and the importance of observing good governance principles and providing an equal playing field for all at all times.
27. GASANMAMO INSURANCE SUPPORTS THE MALTA CHAMBER ‘THINK TANK’ The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry has renewed its collaboration partnership with GasanMamo Insurance Ltd through a Bronze Collaboration Agreement. GasanMamo Insurance will once again be paired with The Chamber’s Think Tank to devise a long-term vision and effective strategies to truly inspire and seek to position Malta as a leading country that fosters economic growth in respect of its national resources and driven by offering its inhabitants an enviable quality of life. “With the vaccine roll-out well underway, approaching a postpandemic scenario does not mean that we revert back to previous methodologies. Let us not forget the lessons learnt and keep looking forward as we adapt to new, more efficient procedures,” said Ms Marisa Xuereb, President of The Malta Chamber, ahead of the signing. Commenting on the partnership, Julian J Mamo, Managing Director of GasanMamo Insurance said “GasanMamo Insurance has been a long-standing supporter of The Malta Chamber and is delighted to be once again getting behind it as a Bronze Sponsor. Our support to the Chamber Think Tank Committee confirms our belief that solutions for a resilient and sustainable economy, that puts the wellbeing of citizens at its core will only be found through collaboration and innovation. There is no Body better placed to achieve this than The Malta Chamber of Commerce.”
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Supply Chains & Logistics
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WORDS DAVID FLERI SOLER
A ROUGH ROAD DAVID FLERI SOLER, Head of Sales and Business Development at Express Trailers Limited, delves into the pandemic's impact on global supply chains. He is also the Chairman of the Logistics and Supply Chain Section within the Malta Chamber. The economic turmoil that Covid-19 brought to the traders of this world has had different levels of effect. All economic sectors felt a change, most were hurt, and some gained ground. But all were affected in the same way where supply chains were concerned. Mostly affected were the global supply chains and, to a lesser extent, the regional ones. Increasingly, businesses transformed to digital, and e-commerce volumes exploded. And since the major source of supply for goods came from the Far East and China, volumes started to increase at a rate that shipping lines' capacity could not cater for. Like with most other countries, Malta's supply chain was short of container supply and endured significant vessel delays and disruption coupled with other factors such as the temporary block of the Suez Canal and the present closure of the Yantian port in south China due to Covid. Potential cargo is regularly being rolled over, pushing supply chains to the limit. We appreciate that our ports are among the busiest ones in the Mediterranean and that they have an above-average global and regional connectivity. On the other hand, our air freight connectivity suffered due to the decrease in regular passenger f lights in and out of Malta and most of the capacity for belly cargo was lost. The regular road ferry lines supporting Malta's road connections to Europe remained open and regular. Therefore the
bulk of importers and exporters had a normal capacity and ample transit time for trade with our EU neighbours, notwithstanding Covid and Brexit-related issues. Due to lack of capacity, shipping lines started increasing their tariffs which recently reached highs of 500 per cent, year over year. There is a 'take it or leave it' attitude with no room to negotiate. While the challenge for shippers is to control supply vs control freight costs, importers have had to rethink their purchasing patterns by sourcing suppliers nearer to home. Other solutions such as airfreight and train connections from China became over-booked, and tariffs increased in the same manner with delays in transit that are not making these solutions so attractive. With increased earnings, shipping lines have increased orders to build new mega vessels, but this is not a solution for the short term. The immediate future will not bring any relief to the roll overs happening more regularly, and the shipping rates are here to stay. As logistics operators, we strongly suggest that businesses should be on the lookout for potential risks within their supply chains and be reactive by responding earlier to planning purchases, sourcing methods, supplier performance, and choosing their right logistics partners. In addition, budgeting needs to take into consideration any increase in costs while keeping a lookout for new market opportunities.
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THE MALTA CHAMBER'S LOGISTICS AND SUPPLY CHAIN SECTION Set up in 2016 within the Malta Chamber, this section quickly became an associate member of FIATA, making a significant impact in the logistics sector by lobbying government to introduce the Free Zones Act 2019. It is currently lobbying to enact regulations, incentives, and supply chain education for the logistics sector in general.
THE MAIN AIMS OF THIS SECTION ARE TO Create a business environment that is conducive to the long-term development and growth of logistics businesses. To promote internationally recognised standards for all local logistics operators. To review, on an ongoing basis, the sector's legislative and regulatory framework at national and European level and to submit recommendations aimed at ensuring the interests of the sector and to promote its growth. In line with the above, to offer advice to Government and the relevant public authorities on international developments impacting the business and on the policy decisions to be adopted with the view of long-term development and growth of the logistics Industry. To leverage on the international influence and resources made available to the Business Section by virtue of the Chamber's Associate Membership in FIATA, to provide value-added services to members. To establish official communication channels with the Authorities at national and international levels to pursue the industry's interests. Being historically a maritime trading nation, our challenges are to improve education and facilitation of trade in Malta.
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WORDS Reuben Debono
CORPORATE GOVERNANCE: THE KEY TO SUCCESS While there is no universally accepted definition for the term governance, one could say that it is the framework within which authority and accountability are exercised to manage and control the outputs, outcomes and benefits in a business concern. Reuben Debono, Director of Maypole Group discusses. Through proper governance mechanisms, organisations can exert financial and technical control over the deployment of the work and the realisation of value. The larger and more complex an organisation becomes, the more crucial good governance becomes to its success. We at Maypole have long been aware of this importance. In a relatively short period of time, and practically from one generation to the next, Maypole has grown from a single-outlet, family concern to a leading player in the food business. Nowadays, our business is built around our very own state-of-the-art production facility, appropriately named The Nakery, at Tal-Ħandaq in Qormi. This is the hub for our operations with no less than 27 retail outlets in strategic points geographically distributed all over the Maltese Islands, the ‘Nenu the Artisan Baker’ franchise, including restaurants in mainstream Valletta and in Mġarr, and a thriving outside catering activity. This leap could not have been successfully effected without the introduction of corporate governance structures to render the transition, from family-run to corporate, smoothly and efficiently. The structures had to ensure that management of all operations had to be professional, yet retaining the family values from which this venture had sprung. Our governance principles are built on five pillars, namely - diligence, confidentiality, accountability, administration and avoidance of conflicts of interest. In parallel with our steep growth and broadening curve, we established delegated limits of authority, and established internal communication and escalation channels for decision making. All team members,
and the wider stakeholders, have clearly-defined roles and responsibilities in a structure that gives confidence to the board of directors that investments and operations are being diligently managed. We have a number of reporting and control activities to ensure that the board is kept informed of progress, and can follow a clear chain of accountability for different actions and duties. Confidentiality is key for an efficient structure, especially when working on research and development of new products from the earliest stages. Our structure operates an a strict need-to-know basis, with the circle growing wider with time and progress, until initiatives are launched. Competence in our corporate structures was introduced to create a optimum balance between those acquired over the years within the family, and those that needed to be hired through the recruitment of suitable professionals in various fields such as marketing, financial control, quality and hygiene standards. Through our governance structures, and internal control structures, we are in a position to ensure strict observance of all legislation
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regulating our operations. These include the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) so critical to food hygiene and safety procedures in any food business, professional accounting and audit services, and a high level of respect for the well-being and welfare of our many employees that, in our efforts to achieve and maintain best practices, goes over and above regulatory obligations. There is no room for conflict of interest in the successful running of a multi-faceted large organisation like Maypole has become. In establishing our governance structures and procedures, we made sure that all players at all levels are fully cognisant of their roles and responsibilities, and the boundaries that limit their fields. Thus while different sections within the whole structure might have different priorities, each unit has its interests that are clearlydefined, and when corporate decisions are taken, the discussion at the table works towards finding the ideal balance between the parts, for the ultimate benefit of the whole. While the original family values are still at the heart of our business, with the active participation of Nenu Debono bringing a wealth of experience and knowhow to the table, families can be emotional systems, and emotions tend to compete with logic. Effective administration structures help to harness these emotions and channel this energy into business operations in a logical framework and direction, and always in tune with individual roles and responsibilities, and in line with
strategic directions in the purpose of the business. During the COVID-19 crisis, we saw our governance structures bringing all these viewpoints together helping us be more resilient. Through sound and decisive action, reorganisation and redeployment of assets, we ensured the ongoing success of the business as a whole, with the second generation of the family actively running operations, preparing it for future generations and guaranteeing the livelihood of all our employees. The transition from a small family business to a large corporate business is never easy and presents challenges. Effective family governance played a key role in dealing with, and overcoming, these challenges. It helped ensure the survival, and the prosperity, of the business between generations, since we always understood that the introduction or formalisation of governance takes time, effort and commitment on the part of all those involved. Professor John A. Davis, the founder of Harvard’s family business management studies during his 21 years on the faculty of Harvard Business School (HBS), has published and lectured on the subject of governance, especially in the context of family-owned businesses, far and wide for years. He summarised the concept rather brilliantly by saying ‘It is bringing the right people together at the right time to discuss the right things’. At Maypole we are proud to believe that we have done that, and will continue to do so. page
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In the spotlight
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WORDS KRYSTA MICALLEF
Paving the way to growth and social wealth KRYSTA MICALLEF speaks to FRANCOIS GRECH CHAIRPERSON OF THE TECH BUSINESS SECTION, WHO IS INVOLVED IN THE CHAMBER’S ECONOMIC POLICY, WHICH TACKLES A NUMBER OF IMPORTANT PILLARS INCLUDING PEOPLE, TECHNOLOGY, GOVERNANCE AND SUSTAINABILITY. THE AIM IS TO CREATE A BALANCE BETWEEN ECONOMIC GROWTH AND QUALITY OF LIFE.
THE CHAMBER’S ECONOMIC POLICY 2020-2025 The Vision: Smart Sustainable Island: Setting the Pathway for Malta’s future economic growth and social wealth.
NATIONAL ECONOMIC DETERMINANTS • Long term macro-economic stability • Digitalisation • Governance, Government & Judiciary • Infrastructure bottleneck Krysta Micallef
SECURING SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT • Inclusive economy • Planned, Safe, and Resilient Build Environment • Resource Efficiency & Low Carbon Economy
ACHIEVING SMART ECONOMIC GROWTH • Smart Innovation Economy • Competitive Make-up of Business • Developing a highly skilled, productive workforce • Structural framework of the economy
STRATEGIC PRINCIPLES • Quality • Innovation & Technology • Global Reach • Human Capital • Productivity • Governance • Social Cohesion
STRATEGIC THRUSTS • Achieving Smart Economic Growth: Structural framework of the economy; Competitive make up of business; Innovative economy; Skills & employability • Securing Sustainable Economic Development: Inclusive economy; Planned, safe resilient-built environment; Resource efficiency and low-carbon economy
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Francois Grech, a tech entrepreneur and managing director of Exigy, who is also the chairman of the Tech Business Section within the Malta Chamber, firmly believes that the Economic Vision, put forward by the Chamber, positions effectively the need for digitisation as well as stimulating innovation within our economy – both being key in enabling sustainable economic development. WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSION? I am a tech entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in corporate IT strategy, digital transformation and solution delivery. I am the Managing Director of Exigy, one of Malta’s leading software companies that focuses on solving business challenges through technology across various industries. WHAT ARE YOUR PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES IN THIS POSITION? AS WELL AS WITHIN YOUR FIELD OF EXPERTISE IF THEY DIFFERENTIATE? The Tech Business Section represents the Chamber members within the Technology industry.
Its primary focus is to address challenges and opportunities of growth within the local tech industry and work constructively with the different stakeholders to mitigate the challenges and capitalise on potential opportunities for the sector. WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR DIRECT INVOLVEMENT AND CONTRIBUTION TO THE POLICY? I have always been a strong advocate for digital transformation. I firmly believe that business can only scale up only if they embed technology within their way of doing business. We can see numerous examples where companies that have embraced not just digitisation but true digital transform their efforts have been rewarded with a higher economic return. Furthermore, to increase competitiveness, companies must transform their business model and introduce innovation within their products and services. I believe the Economic Vision, put forward by the Chamber, positions effectively the need for digitisation and stimulating innovation within our economy – both being key in enabling a sustainable economic development. ALONG WITH YOUR EXPERTISE, DO YOU HAVE YOUR OWN VISION TOWARDS THE COUNTRY’S BETTERMENT THAT HELPS TO SHAPE YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS? I believe we need to invest more within Research and Development and stimulate investment in the creation of locally grown IP. Creating local IP that can be exported is an effective way of driving sustainable economic development while having a low impact on the infrastructural resources of the country. page
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WITH REGARDS TO THE POLICY ITSELF: IN YOUR OWN WORDS, CAN YOU GIVE A SUMMARY OF THE NEW POLICY? The Economic Vision is the collective view of the Malta Chamber Members to achieve smart economic growth while ensuring that it remains sustainable and operates under good governance. WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST IMPROVEMENTS YOU’RE ASPIRING TO REACH DURING THE POLICY’S TERM IN YOUR SECTOR? During the past years, the Tech business section has worked relentlessly to establish an international brand for the technology industry, hoping that Malta would become the tech hub that we dream of. Through a partnership with the Government of Malta, we have established Tech. MT, which is a foundation with the sole aim of furthering this aim. During this policy term, we
can expect to start capitalising on the work being done by Tech.MT in assisting tech companies establishing in Malta and local tech companies internationalise. Furthermore, we would like to pursue initiatives that will stimulate the increase in Research and Development locally and increase the creation of locally grown IP. ARE THERE ANY CONCERNS OR CHALLENGES YOU FORESEE IN THE POLICY’S LONG-TERM GOALS? The availability of highly skilled tech professionals is one of the critical challenges that our industry is constantly facing and is the most significant limiting factor to the potential growth of our industry. Our locally trained professional is not enough to satisfy the demand for tech professionals by far. Therefore, we need to be capable of attracting more tech professionals to Malta to sustain our growth. HOW WILL THE PUBLIC BENEFIT FROM THE NEW ECONOMIC POLICY? The direction of the new Economic Policy is to drive innovation, digitisation and sustainability, and the quality of life. So economic Wellbeing is not just defined in terms of GDP growth but has to consider the quality of life of the people. In addition, within the Economic Policy, we strongly believe in re-skilling and upskilling our local workforce so that they can move up the value chain and access better salaries. WHAT IS ONE OF THE FIRST NOTABLE CHANGES THE PUBLIC CAN EXPECT TO SEE IN THE SHORT-TERM PHASE? I believe that following the path of this Economic Vision; the public should expect that policy decisions start to be measured more in terms of Economic well-being than just GDP growth.
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moving up the Economic value CHAIN Lawrence Zammit
Lawrence Zammit, Chairperson of the Chamber’s Employment Agencies Business Section and Founding Partner, MISCO, states his opinion on the economic policy. Malta’s economic DNA has two key elements which it has developed over the last six decades. The first element is its reliance on the export of goods and services for economic growth. The second element is its diversification across a number of economic activities, thereby contributing to its resilience. As such, our vision for the country’s economy must take into account these two elements. In this regard, the key activities of our economy will remain an export-based manufacturing sector, tourism, and financial and other services. Demand for other activities is derived from these key activities. There is a third aspect that we now need to consider: the country's need to move up the economic value chain. To achieve this, we need to continue to invest significantly and consistently in our human resources. Malta’s economic growth is not sustainable if it relies on cheap labour, especially foreign cheap labour.
At all levels, the quality of our human resources must be our distinguishing mark. It needs to become Malta’s unique selling proposition. This does not only mean further investment in further and higher education, but also investment in primary and secondary education, with special emphasis on soft skills, language skills and technical skills. Focusing on specific sectors, there is the need to assess which segments of the manufacturing sector will be most suitable for Malta in future. The past examples of investments in the pharmaceutical sector and aviation services should give us the confidence that the country can attract new activities in the manufacturing sector. Start-ups need to become an essential feature of our economy. Government should support such start-ups financially and encourage young entrepreneurs to lead innovation in this country.
Innovation does not necessarily have to be ICT related but could include product design and development. Tourism will always remain a key activity in our economy. However, this is evidently the time to develop a sustainable tourism policy based not on the number of tourist arrivals but on quality. Malta has a number of unique selling points which are attractive to highquality tourism. Malta needs to exploit the opportunities of the green economy fully. Malta had been the global leader in promoting first the seabed and then climate as the common heritage of humankind. It was a thought leader in these areas, and it will need to become a leader in developing the green economy. However, none of this vision can become a reality unless we truly believe that our economic success depends entirely on the quality of our human resources. page
ARTS AND CULTURE
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WORDS MALTA PHILHARMOnIC ORCHESTRA
A HUB FOR THE ARTS, FOR MALTA the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) has been a catalyst for the country’s Creative and Cultural Industry. As Malta’s foremost musical institution, concert seasons featured around two concerts a week, as the orchestra collaborated with a number of Public Cultural Organizations and local festivals. Pertinently, in recent years, sold-out concerts had become a regular fixture. Additionally, the orchestra established itself as Malta’s cultural ambassador with the annual concert tours and visited prestigious concert halls in the USA, Russia, Germany, and Austria, bolstering its reputation on an international platform. COVID-19 left a devastating impact on a number of sectors, including the creative arts. Yet, the orchestra aptly embarked on a digital transformation, reaching over a 5.2million people in the first quarter of 2021. The MPO Online Programme sought to keep its music-making alive whilst
enhancing its visibility exponentially, extending its followers to over 45 countries. Understanding further its pivotal role within the artistic community, the MPO broadened its working horizons, collaborating with a number of interdisciplinary practitioners from different genres. A highlight of this strategic shift was the APS Summer Festival – the only full-scale initiative of its kind during the pandemic featuring the Big Band Brothers, Red Electrick, Nadine Axisa and other acts performing with orchestra musicians. Lasting 8 weeks, the festival offered a platform for local artists to showcase their talents - a unique opportunity to entice live gigs which performers feed off, both creatively and financially. Similarly, the orchestra worked directly with a number of local performers, fully aware of the difficulties faced in view of pandemic restrictions. Audio-visual productions, including Don’t Stop Believin’ and llKunċert tal-President għas-Sena l-Ġdida, featured collaborations with singers, dancers and reciters. Recently, the orchestra performed with the orchestra Raquela in her latest music video. More pertinently, the MPO collaborated with Destiny, Malta's representative in the Eurovision Song Contest for a symphonic version of Je Me Casse. The project
The MPO accompanying Destiny in a symphonic version of Je Me Casse. Photo: Albert Camilleri
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with this young, naturally talented stalwart embodies the orchestra’s aim to nurture partnerships with a wide array of artists, especially as it taps new areas, particularly education programmes and the film industry.
MPO musicians enjoying the thrill of performing live during a recent Community Programme. Photo: Elisa von Brockdorff
In parallel, another strand actively pursued by the MPO is its Communit y Prog ramme. F limk ien featured a ser ies of concer ts in a number of homes and retirement v illages seek ing to convey a message of positiv it y. In June, str ing quar tets f rom the orchestra performed in leading hotels around the island, utilizing the arts as an added incentive to motivate people to venture outside again. Indeed, as the public entity responsible for promoting music, the MPO is committed to offering its services and expertise in this particularly challenging period, focusing on strengthening the arts and its accessibility as one of its primary goals. As recently remarked by CEO Sigmund Mifsud, the orchestra is establishing itself as a “lifebuoy for the arts”, as its mission is relevant not only for the local creative ecology but also for Malta as a country.
Red Electrick accompanied by the MPO performed to live audiences last year during the APS Summer Festival. Photo: Darren Agius Photography page
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Aviation has been impacted more during this crisis than it was during all previous crises put together.
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WORDS dinah delceppo
PARKED AIRCRAFT AND ZERO FLIGHT HOURS AVIATION'S UNPRECEDENTED TURBULENCE
Following an early start to his career as a hands-on Structure and Composite engineer and has held numerous management positions in Shannon Aerospace before being seconded to Lufthansa Technik Malta, John Mahon is equipped with more than 25 years of experience in the aviation industry. AS THE CEO OF A RENOWNED AIRCRAFT MAINTENANCE COMPANY – LUFTHANSA TECHNIK MALTA – WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY AT WORK LOOK LIKE? As most CEO's will probably agree, there is rarely a typical day. Our industry is especially very dynamic and, whilst I always participate in some fixed daily operational meetings and jour fixes with my management team and colleagues from our more comprehensive network, I also spend time on the shop floor walking our operation at least once daily, engaging with staff and customers as I go. I try to divide my days equally between operational activities and strategic projects and activities.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY MAKES YOUR JOB FULFILLING? I have worked in aviation and for the Lufthansa Group for 30 years. I have direct hands-on experience in the MRO industry, having begun my career at Shannon Aerospace (Lufthansa joint venture in Ireland) as an apprentice. Now, as CEO of Lufthansa Technik Malta, I find it very fulfilling to be in a position of understanding our operation from every angle, customer, shareholder and employee. Getting the balance right between these key stakeholders is critical in my position; it keeps me busy but also fully engaged. DID COVID-19 IMPACT THE BUSINESS? IF SO, HOW HAS THIS AFFECTED THE COMPANY? Aviation has been impacted more during this crisis than it was during all previous crises put together. The world's passenger fleet has been practically grounded throughout this last year, so the requirement for maintenance services has been greatly reduced without flight hours. We have had long periods with empty
John Mahon is a member of The Malta Chamber representing Lufthansa Technik Malta Ltd.
A global pandemic such as COVID-19 would mean that economies around the globe are hit hard and fast. With most industries suffering the detrimental effects of this - having restrictions imposed on travelling, the aviation industry is one of those that were hit the hardest. DINAH DELCEPPO virtually connects with JOHN MAHON, Chief Executive Officer at Lufthansa Technik Malta, to understand how an aircraft maintenance company has managed to survive COVID-19.
Issue 96 hangars, with sold man-hours a fraction of what they were back in 2019. Whilst we are grateful air travel is starting a recovery, as countries across Europe and the world relax restrictions, we still have a very long way to go to get back to pre COVID-19 figures. As a matter of survival, we were forced to make changes to our working patterns, and our strong workforce of 600 employees were required to take longer than usual absences. Additionally the effect of COVID-19 on normal day-to-day functioning and logistics almost goes without saying. The common factor being that each person experienced restrictions and changes to everyday daily life. HOW HAS LUFTHANSA TECHNIK MALTA BEEN PUTTING THIS DIFFERENT PERIOD TO GOOD USE? HAS ANY 'AMPLE' TIME BEEN DEDICATED TO MAINTAINING AND IMPROVING FACILITIES AND OPERATIONS? Yes for sure, our company needs to be quite different after this pandemic; inefficiency that was maybe tolerated in the past cannot form part of our future. The emerging aviation market will be smaller than it was in 2019 and so super competitive with a strong focus on price. We need to be ready to compete, and this is why we have implemented a number of structural changes in our operation. We have consolidated production back to one facility and vacated the old hangar we occupied adjacent to our new facility; we have changed the operating work pattern whilst also re-structuring our production system. These
initiatives aim to eliminate waste from our process, save costs, and create an environment where greater efficiency can be realised and ensure the company's competitiveness in the future and safeguard the 600 jobs we have here in Malta. This has been a challenging period for everyone; we are grateful for the support we have received from both the Maltese government and our shareholders and, most importantly, our employees. HAS THE FACT THAT MOST AIRCR AFT HAVE EXPERIENCED A PROLONGED BREAK FROM OPER ATIONS AFFECTED THE BUSINESS? HAS MORE MAINTENANCE AND CARE BEEN REQUIRED FOR SUCH AIRCR AFT? Most aircraft have been maintained in a "stored condition" whilst they have been grounded, and yes, work is required to remove the aircraft from this condition and return it to a "f light-ready" state. This work can be performed in a few short days but will be performed at the airfield where the aircraft has been parked. Unfortunately, here in Malta, the space on the airfield is quite limited, so we have not had parked aircraft here and will not get to take part in this workload. HAVE YOU YET SEEN A CHANGE IN BUSINESS DUE TO TOURISM TAKING THE ROUTE BACK TO NORMALITY? Although we still have many empty slots on our schedule, the activity we see in the market is much more encouraging than we have seen in the last months, we have real possible acquisitions now as airlines get their fleets ready for busy operations in the 2nd half of the year and our sales team are busy trying to secure this workload for LTM. WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR LUFTHANSA TECHNIK MALTA? The immediate future will continue to be difficult; price will remain the deciding factor in terms of winning business. Our focus will be on performance and efficiency improvements with tight control of cost. Longer-term we are well placed, our portfolio includes modern aircraft type like the A350, our workforce are young but very experienced and technically very capable, we have a modern facility and the ability to grow, we have a good reputation in the market with great customers - so all the ingredients to be sustainably successful.
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WORDS dinah delceppo
THE S IN TOURISM SHOULD STAND FOR SUSTAINABILITY Closed airports and no tourists in sight – no one would have believed this is what the world would look like. COVID-19 meant that countries had to be colour-coded, and people who usually work restless days and nights, irrespective of feasts and weekends, had to take forced leave and long absences if they were lucky enough to keep their job. DINAH DELCEPPO virtually connects with DOUGLAS BARBARO SANT, Deputy Chair of the Tourism Business Section within the Malta Chamber of Commerce, to delve into COVID-19’s taint on the tourism industry and the efforts being made to not only revitalize the industry but also to implement more sustainable practices.
In addition to recently being appointed Deputy Chair of the Tourism Business Section within the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Douglas Barbaro Sant is an experienced managing partner specializing in the events services industry. He is also skilled in catering, budgeting, food and beverage, event planning and hospitality management. WHAT DOES THE POSITION OF DEPUTY CHAIR OF THE TOURISM BUSINESS SECTION WITHIN THE MALTA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE ENTAIL? My role as Deputy Chair is mainly to assist the Chair and update the Executive Committee with all that is happening. The Tourism Business Section represents 190 members within the Malta Chamber who have a direct,
indirect, and induced interest in tourism in Malta, with a wide representation of different operators such as travel agents, hoteliers, language schools, DMCs, incoming operators, transport operators, diving schools, the cruise operator and other ancillary providers. The Business Section represents the entire tourism eco-system. WHAT ARE THE MAIN ROLES OF THIS AREA OF THE CHAMBER? The Tourism Business Committee has only recently been elected; however, we certainly hit the ground running. We are working hard at ensuring that the Chamber becomes the voice for tourism and offers an additional platform to all associations who need to make their voice heard. WOULD YOU SAY PEOPLE ARE MAKING MORE CONSCIOUS DECISIONS REGARDING HOW THEY FLY AS A RESULT OF THE INCREASING CLIMATE CHANGE AWARENESS? There is a general trend that tourists seek more sustainable practices from their holidays, and Malta is no different. The aviation industry on a regional level
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is seeking to address this issue by using more efficient aircraft and drive innovation on better practices in line with climate change goals. This is particularly important to Malta, as being an island, we would suffer from insularity as over 90% of our tourists are connected through air travel. WHAT ARE AIRLINES DOING TO BE MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY? WHAT MORE CAN BE DONE? Tourism is not only about one stakeholder or another; whilst airlines do have a part to play, the whole tourism eco-system needs to have sustainability at its core such that each link within the tourism value chain can practice financial, environmental and socio-cultural sustainable practices. HOW DETRIMENTAL WAS COVID-19’S IMPACT ON THE TOURISM INDUSTRY? The pandemic was the ultimate stress test for many tourism businesses – those that survive are the ones who have been diligent in managing their risk and finances. But, unfortunately, it may reduce people’s willingness to spend and take risks, shake confidence and destroy business momentum.
WHAT ARE THE PLANS TO BRING THIS INDUSTRY BACK TO LIFE WHILE ENSURING THE SAFETY OF ALL PASSENGERS? The stakeholder landscape within the Maltese tourism industry is comprised of a number of specialized organizations that do an excellent job for their members. The COVID-19 pandemic has given these organizations and other stakeholders the impetus to unite together for the common good of the tourism industry and come to a more sustainable quality experience in Malta to avoid over-tourism. HAS THE RATE OF VACCINE ROLLOUT BEEN AIDING THE INDUSTRY TO GET BACK ON ITS FEET? HOW SOON CAN WE EXPECT TOURISM TO BE FULLY RESTORED? The rate of vaccine rollout has aided the industry, but we ultimately depend on our source markets to have similar rates to get back on their feet. One must remember that other downturns took two to five years to recover from, and this crisis was unprecedented in its magnitude and effect. This pandemic has destroyed some fundamental aspects of the industry, and we can’t defy economic theory as value – real and perceived – needs time to recover. page
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RAISING YOUR LOW-CODE EXPECTATIONS Marcel Cutajar, CEO, Agilis IT Business Solutions, shares his knowledge on an emerging trend referred to as Low-Code Development Platform (LCDP) which is quickly replacing handcoded computer programming. Don’t let IT complexity get in the way of your digital goals. Marcel starts by saying.
Marcel Cutajar is a member of The Malta Chamber representing Agilis Ltd.
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WORDS DUNCAN BARRY
Business Software solutions such as online community portals, customer relationship management tools, and consumer-facing apps are solutions organisations must now develop to meet f luctuating consumer and employee needs. Yet, a shortage of skilled software developers can create significant challenges for business decision-makers charged with allocating resources. In Europe, the estimate is that by 2021, there will be a shortage of 500,000 software developers. (Software Developers in Europe & The World; luxinnovation.lu) If you are a start-up or established business, you need to digitalise... in a short period and cost-effectively. Applications need to be world-class webbased, mobile-friendly solutions. INTRODUCING A LOW-CODE DEVELOPMENT PL ATFOR M (LCDP) Wikepedia’s definition of a LCDP is that it provides a development environment used to create application software through a graphical user interface instead of traditional hand-coded computer
programming. A low-coded platform may produce entirely operational applications or require additional coding for specific situations. Lowcode development platforms reduce the amount of traditional hand-coding, enabling accelerated delivery of business applications. A common benefit is that a wider range of people can contribute to the application's development - not only those with formal programming skills. LCDPs can also lower the initial cost of set-up, training, deployment and maintenance. Low-code platforms became popular during the past few years, especially in 2020 when many businesses had to build and upgrade applications rapidly because of Covid-19. As a result, you’re likely to find many lowcode options with different capabilities and development approaches. Low code implies that some coding skills may be required to develop applications. Some low-code platforms are tools for technologists and target people with software development skills. Others are citizen development platforms and empower business analysts or subject matter experts to develop and support applications.
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LCDPs can also lower the initial cost of set-up, training, deployment and maintenance.
The beauty of this technology is that it addresses the shortage of developers on the market by allowing the solution to be developed by a non-developer, empowering business analysts or subject matter experts to create and support applications.
Gartner, Microsoft and Forrester report that:
Software Development houses also stand to gain as they are now able to develop solutions in an accelerated agile fashion kicking off by building a Proof of Concept that can progress to a fullyf ledged enterprise solution. LCDP’s give them the competitive edge to offer faster, better priced, bugfree solutions or nearly bug-free! Companies looking to upgrade their legacy digital platform can take advantage of Low Code Platforms. Migrating your system step by step to a low-code platform is the ideal way to start replacing your technology-challenged solution. When you start migrating your legacy systems, you want to start by migrating simple (non-business critical) applications and work your way towards more complex applications. This provides vital learning, so you can minimise the likelihood of making costly mistakes when it comes to more high-stake projects. No one can afford to develop applications in silos. Applications need to integrate with enterprise systems, APIs, cloud and data centre databases, and third-party data sources. Most enterprise low-code platforms offer extensive interfacing with other solutions.
exclusive interview - in focus
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WORDS DUNCAN BARRY
BREATHING A SIGH OF RELIEF DUNCAN BARRY interviews Minister for the Economy and Industry SILVIO SCHEMBRI on the Government's aid for businesses and the challenges the Government faced during the peak of the pandemic.
Minister, now that the vaccine rollout has been a success and Malta is going back to normality, there's no doubt that most businesses will still feel the pinch of the pandemic. The Government gave a wage supplement to most businesses. Does the Government intend to support businesses in the form of a wage supplement in future? From the very earliest stages of such an extraordinary scenario, as a Government, we sought to roll out aid, striving to protect businesses and safeguard jobs. Through that endeavour, we managed to protect 100,000 jobs, whilst ensuring that the rate of unemployment remained minimal, especially when compared to our European peers. Against all odds, we even managed to create new job opportunities within the manufacturing industry, which ultimately rose to the
occasion and demonstrated its resiliency and fastmoving advantage. A year has passed since the launch of the €900 million economic injection, as announced in the plan for the regeneration of the economy, which ensured that everyone, including those most hard hit by the impact of the pandemic, were assisted and supported. We constantly ensured that throughout such adverse circumstances, nobody was left behind, and we shall continue to do so. As a Government, we reiterate our commitment to stand shoulder to shoulder with businesses and families to provide the necessary help.
ARE YOU CONFIDENT THAT THE ECONOMY WILL RAPIDLY START DOING WELL OR DO YOU FEEL IT WILL BE LONG BEFORE BUSINESSES GET BACK ON THEIR FEET? Before answering such a question, it is necessary to recall the point of departure and understand how we arrived at where we are today. Before the pandemic, Malta was experiencing the highest economic growth
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and the lowest unemployment rate when compared to its European peers, until the unthinkable happened. I like to equate such a scenario with the same as having a Ferrari driven at high speed, and it has to be slowed down instantaneously. Through the implemented aid measures, we sought to provide peace of mind to businesses and families as well as mitigate as much as possible the impact of the pandemic. Consequently, the long-term measures were purposefully aimed to bring about long-term effects. The confidence instilled in the economic sentiment is also reflected in the number of deposits in banks, idle money, which will then be invested in new projects.
all government ministries across the board. The discussion process will also be open to the whole of society and industry and business to share ideas on the direction to be taken to finally strike a balance between economic prosperity and the protection of the environment.
Whilst addressing the present, the Government has kept on planning for the future. In the last days, the Ministry for Economy and Industry launched a consultation process on Malta's Economic Vision 2021-2031 focusing on innovation and creativity, the use of digital media for productivity and competitiveness, converting education through skills development with sectoral employment, considerations of environmental issues, and the continued strengthening of the regulatory scope of business.
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO BUSINESSES THAT NEED TO CHANGE THEIR STRUCTURE AND REINVENT THEMSELVES TO MEET CUSTOMERS' EVER-CHANGING NEEDS AND DEMANDS BUT ARE HESITANT TO DO SO DUE TO A LACK OF FUNDS? My advice is – Think beyond the pandemic. Despite how the pandemic has shown its teeth, and inevitably liquidation was aggressively eroded, some good still managed to come out of such an unfortunate situation. It forced us to change our mindset and start thinking greener and more digitally. This is the ultimate way forward. One of the measures I worked on was that of an investment of €5 million in the reengineering scheme for businesses which allows them to reinvent themselves internally and seek ways to better their operations in an efficient manner. In the current scenario, taking that leap of faith is necessary to adapt and adapt to changing circumstances.
Named 'A Future-proof Malta – a nation of courage, compassion and achievement', the consultation document is divided into five main pillars which are:
WHAT WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT DECISION YOU HAD TO TAKE DURING COVID? DID YOU FACE A LOT OF PRESSURE FROM THE MANY DIFFERENT BUSINESS SECTORS? More than pressure, I would instead describe it as constant, constructive discussion with all stakeholders, pulling the same rope in the best interest of businesses, families, hardworking employees and the nation as a whole, which eventually enabled our country to weather the storm and come out stronger.
• Sustainable economic growth to improve the quality of life; • High quality infrastructure and investment; • Education and employment; • Environment; • High standards of accountability, governance, and the rule of law. This will be carried out through consultation and collaboration between
We are committed to building an economy that respects the principles of social justice, equality of opportunity, and benefits that will ensure the wellbeing of the many and not the few. This exercise will bolster this island into a nation of the future and will ensure a prosperous economy for all I am confident that Malta's fast-moving advantages and the remarkable success of the vaccination programme will pave the road for further economic growth. Whilst several economic reports, including the most recent one by the European Commission, shows that the Maltese economy will be the first to recover, we must, however, constantly remain with our feet on the ground and vigilant of the dynamics and developing situation.
Every second and every minute of such circumstances brought about crucial decisions which had to be deliberated profoundly and taken unhesitatingly. One such decision was when I was confronted with the exorbitant rise in the price of masks. As Ministry for the Economy and as allowed by law, a mechanism was used which had been obsolete for 40 years and rapidly introduced a price cap on facemasks. A stance that ultimately protected the whole population, especially since the use of face masks was made compulsory in the following weeks.
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WORDS DUNCAN BARRY
THE ILL-EFFECTS OF THE PANDEMIC ON THE CARE HOME SECTOR DUNCAN BARRY speaks to the CEO of CareMalta Group and chairperson of the Care Home Operators Business Section within the Malta Chamber of Commerce, NATALIE BRIFFA FARRUGIA, on the dedicated care of elderly residents and the financial burden the elderly sector had to face due to the pandemic. CAN YOU TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR PROFESSION AND YOUR REPRESENTATION ON THE COMMITTEE OF THE ELDERLY? As CEO of the CareMalta Group, the largest private operator of long-term care services for the elderly in Malta, and the first private company to offer specialised and respite services in the community catering for different needs, my primary role is seeing to the overall operation of the organisation. But my work means so much more to me.
My years of experience in end-of-life care, my missionary work and my academic background have encouraged me to take a hands-on approach to work, thus filling me with a sense of compassion and dedication to deliver the very best to all our clients and truly making a difference in their life. The group has grown considerably over the years, starting with CareMalta Ltd, which offers longterm care to more than 1,600 residents in the nine elderly homes it operates, and later through Hila Ltd, offering respite services to children and older adults with disability, specialised care to people with neurodegenerative diseases and in the community to people with intellectual disabilities and challenging behaviour. The services offered by Hila have been a natural extension of our capabilities and wide range of services. As from last year, I am also the Care Home Operators Business Section chair within the Malta Chamber of Commerce. Dedicated to the ever-growing sector of care homes for
the elderly, this was set up in 2020 by the Chamber to voice an underserved sector, especially during Covid-19. The Malta Chamber platform allows me to work closely with a group of like-minded private and Church-run care home operators and be able to enhance the sector and take it to the next level. I am also a member of the Malta Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics, Malta Businesswoman of the Year 2018 and former Chair of the European Association of Housing and Services for the Ageing (EAHSA). HOW DID THE PANDEMIC IMPACT YOUR SECTOR? The pandemic took everyone by surprise. When the virus broke out, my first thought was how we would protect our residents, each and every one of them. There would have been severe repercussions for the national healthcare system had we not tackled this immediately. While our people served at the forefront during CareMalta’s 10-week live-in initiative with the residents in March 2020, I was always in the picture, ensuring everything ran smoothly. Older persons, the most vulnerable to Covid-19 complications, were the ones who suffered the most, not being able to see and hug their loved ones. Like the families, we too, as operators, have suffered since we
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couldn’t hug our residents or give them what they really needed – the model of care we have always had, along with a sense of spirituality and togetherness which we all long for.
by the families to their loved ones were allowed. Restrictions are only being eased now after 15 months.
After the live-in, during the second wave of the pandemic, we had to face the sad reality of losing a number of residents. Even though we did everything we could in order not to lose one life, all our energy, sacrifices and goodwill were overcome by the lack of restrictive measures the country experienced during the summer months and days that followed.
DID YOU RECEIVE SUPPORT FROM THE GOVERNMENT? In June 2020, after our 10-week live-in, the government officially recognised the excellent work and commitment by long-term care service providers through a €2 million grant given to 40 homes. The Social Care Standards Authority issued national guidelines throughout the pandemic and ensured that all operators followed them thoroughly.
Over the past 15 months, the group has experienced high operational costs (purchase of PPEs, salaries and staff overtime), since we have had to change the way we operate due to Covid-19.
We also received a lot of support from the authority during our vaccination campaign, which took place in January this year, and with swabbing procedures for both residents and employees.
Our home admissions also had to be put on hold throughout Covid-19 due to strict infection control measures and other restrictions in place. No visits
We are currently asking for further financial assistance because since June 2020, all operators went through tough times, both financially and operationally, to page
Issue 96 survive through phase 2 and phase 3 of the pandemic. Overall, operators suffered a reduction of between 20 to 40 per cent in revenue and an increase in operational costs of 20 per cent. Hopefully, the sector can be assisted in this regard, as so far our sector did not benefit from any assistance issued since. DID THE ELDERLY HOME WORKERS RECEIVE ANY SUPPORT? The company has always had the well-being of its employees at heart. Now more than ever, we have kickstarted a well-being programme for our employees to help and support them in the aftermath of Covid-19. During our 10-week live-in with residents, employees received leadership support from our managers to keep their morale up and combat feelings of tiredness, concern, and apprehension. No one knew what would happen; they were dark times. We also offered support to all our teams through the Richmond Foundation. Caremalta Ltd and Hila Ltd also offered financial compensation to those employees who took part in the live-in experience in all our facilities. A Central Support Team based at the head office provided all the necessary help to our front liners during the live-in, such as special dietary requirements for the foreign employees and supporting families whose members were living with the residents 24/7. The Vassallo Group, through CaterEssence, also provided large
quantities of food and sweets for our residents and employees.
pandemic is essential.
Employees who tested positive were offered alternative accommodation to minimise cross-contamination. Our teams also communicated with them regularly, calling them and asking them how they felt, for psychological support.
WHAT ARE THE MAJOR CHALLENGES THE SECTOR IS FACING? A shortage of specialised staff, instilling more confidence in the sector, supporting employees through a sense of mental wellbeing, restoring quality of life to older persons... come to mind.
Together with our residents, all our employees were given the vaccine as part of the vaccination campaign earlier this year.
Post pandemic, the sector has also experienced an exodus of nurses who have left Malta to work in the UK.
DID YOU REACH OUT TO THE GOVERNMENT? Both via the Malta Chamber and as CareMalta as a group, we frequently requested to have employee overtime earned during our live-in to be tax-exempt, as a sign of goodwill towards those employees who made countless sacrifices to shield our residents from the virus.
Also, the high turnover of nurses and carers is posing a burden on HR departments. A level playing field with the government regarding Third Country nationals in the sector is required to ensure that the elderly in private homes are well cared for.
WHAT DO YOU THINK SHOULD BE DONE IN A BID TO HELP RENEW THE SECTOR? As I mentioned earlier, the sector has not benefitted from any financial aid despite the decrease in revenues and increased operational costs. Therefore, some kind of compensation in this regard is truly required. During the past 15 months, throughout Covid-19, as care service providers, we had to put home admissions on hold to ensure our residents’ safety, which has impacted our bed occupancy. Therefore, best use of the present vacant beds in all homes that have been in operation during the
Moreover, carers and nurses are not incentivised locally as it is not an attractive sector. As a nation, we should be looking at solutions to retain the present workforce and attract the right people to work in our industry by offering longer-term solutions for these professionals. The sector needs to review its social structures while looking at new possibilities to help support families wishing to take care of their elderly. I fear that, as a society, we are just focusing on long-term care settings – which ultimately is not the vision for the sector. One should see the needs of the sector comprehensively. Having more of the same will only lead to a surplus of beds which, ultimately, is already being felt right now.
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FOOD AND HOSPITALITY
THE RIGHT INGREDIENTS Michelin-star chef ALEX DILLING, who worked with world-renowned French-born chef ALAIN Ducasse, shares his advice on what young aspiring chefs should do in a bid to excel in the food industry. WHAT DROVE YOU TO WANT TO BE A CHEF? Being a chef was pretty much genetic for me; loving food is probably one of the most essential things when becoming a chef, and I grew up loving food. I spent a lot of time cooking with my mum and grandfather, and we used to go exploring around San Francisco, finding the best ingredients in season and then I would help him prepare the dishes ensuring the most dominant tastes and textures were used.
Iniala are members of The Malta Chamber.
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HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE OF COOKING? I think my cuisine is productdriven and my approach ingredientled. I try to find the most in season and freshest ingredients at the moment and then make them the star of the dish, adding little details that help elevate it. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO MALTA? Honestly, I had never really heard much about Malta, but during the pandemic, the restaurant I was at had closed and I was dying to
get back into the kitchen, so when Mark Weingard approached me it was really exciting to take the opportunity to do something different and spend somewhere so beautiful for the summer. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT MALTA’S CULINARY WORLD? I think the seafood in Malta is amazing, but I’ll be honest, I haven’t yet been able to discover true Maltese food in the traditional sense. It definitely has its complications getting product here, but designing a menu focused on seafood and fish the local product is excellent to work with. IF YOU COULD PICK ONE “STAR” LOCAL INGREDIENT THAT MALTA HAS, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Hands down, the local pink shrimp are phenomenal, and you can find it on our current menu. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG ASPIRING LOCAL CHEFS? Don’t rush, spend even 10 years learning’ training under good people is paramount and don’t rush to be a head chef, but most importantly, work hard and it will pay off. WHO DO YOU MOST LOOK UP TO WITHIN THE INDUSTRY OR OTHERWISE? Alain Ducasse, he is a complete visionary, ahead of his time for many years and has continued creating fantastic dining experiences worldwide.
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…training under good people is paramount and don’t rush to be a head chef, but most importantly work hard, and it will pay off.
ABOUT Alex is a Two Michelin Star chef, and he will be in residence at ION-The Harbour located on the rooftop of Iniala Harbour House for 100 days which kicked off on June 17. Brought up surrounded by traditional French cooking, Alex owes his love of fine dining to his early years working for Alain Ducasse. Alex started his career in London and then moved to New York to work for Ducasse under the direction of Didier Elena and Tony Esnault at Adour, NYC. He then joined Caviar Russe in Manhattan, where he gained their first Michelin star. ABOUT THE LUXURY HOTEL CHAIN INIALA Iniala is a collection of uniquely designed luxury hotels located in Malta and Thailand. Iniala is the brainchild of Mark Weingard, a visionary and philanthropist who transformed his holiday home in Thailand into an idyllic beachfront hotel.
He moved back to London and worked as the Executive Corporate Chef at The Connaught Hotel, where he helped maintain their two Michelin stars. Alex then took the opportunity to become the Executive Chef at The Greenhouse in London, also maintaining their two Michelin stars.
Upon discovering the natural beauty, rich history and fascinating culture Malta has to offer, Mark was inspired to create Iniala Malta - a luxury hotel that embraces the island’s heritage and reflects its outstanding hospitality. page
TEAM BUILDING: THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL COMPANIES Whether a team is based in one location or working remotely, the underlying principles of good teamwork are still the same, and hence team-building remains highly important. Danica Fava, co-founder and managing director of Outdoor Living, tells The Commercial Courier how the team-building specialists helped organisations during the pandemic and the importance of teamwork.
Danica Fava is a member of The Malta Chamber representing Outdoor Living Ltd.
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WORDS COMMERCIAL COURIER
The pandemic brought about many changes to the workplace. Besides employees having to adapt to doing their job remotely where this was possible, they also had to adapt to another reality: working in isolation, physically apart from colleagues and superiors. This was indeed not short of challenges, but according to Danica Fava, managing director and co-founder of Outdoor Living, it also created “new opportunities for teams”. “With many working from home and no preparation on how to adjust to the new lifestyle, the pandemic did create many challenges but also new opportunities for teams,” Fava says. “A challenge that was faced by many was the feeling of isolation. At the office, one could easily have a casual chat with colleagues, maybe while making a coffee or just in the corridor of the office. Remote working put a stop to this, and hence it was a new challenge for many organisations to find ways how to keep everyone connected and engaged.”
Fava is adamant that the success of an organisation depends not just on the skills of the individuals that form part of that organisation but the connection between the different individuals. “Great teamwork is what makes an organisation successful and stand out from other organisations. This applies to all types of organisations. If an organisation has the best people in the field, but there is no connection between the different people, the organisation cannot move forward successfully,” she says. The team-building specialists at Outdoor Living quickly rose to the challenge brought about by COVID-19, and in just three weeks, with the help of their Catalyst partners around the world, they switched to offering virtual team-building events. “We held firm to our mission to find the best solutions to keep teams connected and engaged irrelevant of their geographical location to help organisations be more successful,” Fava noted.
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Great teamwork is what makes an organisation successful and stand out from other organisations.
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“It is also to be noted that many studies show that an engaged workforce has a higher productivity rate than that of a team with the lowest engagement, so team-building is not something to be ignored.” Thus, in the first week of April 2020, the company started running virtual team-building events for organisations that did not just have employees in Malta but all around the globe. “For some, using communication platforms such as Zoom and MS Teams was a new venture, so our events were also a great way to help employees become more confident using this technology,” she points out. Fava believes that the biggest challenge brought about by the pandemic was, however, not remote working per se – it has been around for quite some time − but the complete change in lifestyle, including limitations on how and where one can socialise, homeschooling, etc. “It is understandable that if organisations were pre-warned of what was going to happen, they would have prepared their teams much better, so it was to be expected that some time is required for teams to readjust. However, we live in an unpredictable world, and the f lexibility and agility of organisations are highly important in today’s world. Organisations with such attributes have f lourished over the pandemic,” she says. “Sustaining employee engagement is no easy task, but today’s technology offers different ways to assist organisations put together a strategy that ensures teams have the right tools to stay connected and engaged.” Outdoor Living is known for its extensive portfolio of team-building events, including virtual, in-person or hybrid sessions. Their most popular virtual events are Race Around the World, a virtual Haunted House. They recently introduced a Global Festival Game for remote teams who want to experience the summer music vibe. Regarding in-person sessions pre-COVID, collaborative events − where all teams have to work together to reach their final goal – generated the most interest. “This could include by painting a Big Picture to be put in their office, building a pyramid, solving a mix of puzzles to Beat the Box and even learning to play the violin in one hour to transform themselves into a string orchestra in our event Crescendo. Few individuals can learn to play classical music in under an hour, but a team of people working in synergy can. Teamwork and efficient communication skills are
paramount, and Crescendo teaches all these skills and more in an experiential learning scenario for lasting results,” Fava says enthusiastically. When face-to-face events restart, the hybrid option will make it possible for those who opt to stay at home or are perhaps in another location or country to participate in events. In all sessions, the company aims to make participants aware of the skills and team dynamics required to make the team successful. “By playing one of our team building games, teams put their teamwork skills in action. Teams need to be aligned and aware of each other’s tasks to be able to act and complete the different challenges,” Fava says. “At the end of the events, we look at how teams performed and how fun, strong bonds, trust and openness push teams forward. This is then linked to how such qualities can be applied back at the workplace.” Trust is indeed the basis of great teamwork, and to build trust, individuals need to get to know each other, she points out. “Among the many learning outcomes, the team building events at Outdoor Living help colleagues bond and build stronger relationships, to improve the level of trust in that team. “Through the power of intelligent game design, team-building events create a safe space where participants feel psychologically safe to share their ideas and work together, a safe place for teams to learn and fail.” Despite the advantages mentioned above of team-building activities, some companies may be reluctant to invest in such events, perhaps seeing them as a waste of time and money. Fava adds that so-called ‘team-building events’ turned out to be simply social events over the years. “The planning and choice of the event play an important role as is the person running the actual event. To ensure you get the most of a team-building event, we suggest you first look at why you want to do this event and the required outcome. A professional team-building organiser can then match and/or come up with a tailor-made team event to match your requirements,” Fava points out. “It is also suggested to look at how your teambuilding organiser is going to help your team transfer the skills learnt during the event to the workplace. Team-building events are no magic pill that through one event, your team will be transformed forever. Teams are a living organism, and team-building is a continuous process and not just a yearly event.”
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WORDS Angele Satariano
MAKE IT WORK 0UT It’s understandable that we might lead sedentary lives due to life’s commitments but being active is of support to us in this crazy busy world. Even dedicating just a small fraction of time and simple forms of movement will make a big difference and help us to care for our wellbeing. Owner of Active Spirit and Athletics ex-National Team athlete, Angele Satariano shares some health-related tips. Did you know that the human body is designed to move? In fact, inactivity is a big contributor to why many people find themselves in pain or unwell. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle has us sitting in our cars, at our desks or on the sofa for most of the day, which isn’t good for our health. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to heart disease, muscular and skeletal issues and negatively affect our mood and sleep. Add to that an unhealthy diet and voilà, you’ve got yourself in trouble!
This is why it’s become so much more important for us to schedule a time to exercise and be active in this day and age. I think exercise can seem daunting to many because we’re made to believe that it needs to be complicated and challenging to be effective. The reality is that exercise can be super simple, and you can still benefit from it even without pushing yourself to your limits! Same goes for good nutrition. You don’t need fancy recipes to eat healthy. The easy stuff works like a dream!
and from the grocery store or to the shops for your errands. To go a step further, you could schedule in a 10-minute simple workout. You don’t need to spend 1 hour sweating it out to get your training session done. If you have the time to dedicate one whole hour, that’s brilliant! But if you don’t, 10 minutes is always better than nothing! I promise you that even though a 10-minute workout might be the last thing you feel like doing, you’ll feel so much better about yourself afterwards. You might enjoy it and decide to go for 15 minutes instead! Your blood will flow, improving your circulation, the happy workout endorphins will kick in, and you’ll be making yourself stronger in the process. Nothing to lose, so much to gain! Try this simple 10-minute workout that you could do as a quick work break or any time of the day that suits you!
I’m going to dive a little deeper into both exercise and nutrition. Let’s start with exercise.
Set a timer for 10 minutes. Within those 10 minutes, do as many rounds as you can of the following exercises:
Simple activities can already be a great way to get more movement in your day. For example, try getting up from your desk to walk around a bit, or park a little bit further away, so you have a longer walk to work or wherever you’re going. Take the stairs instead of the lift. Walk to
1. Squats x 10 2. Push-ups x 10 3. Lunges x 20 (alternating) 4. Russian twist x 20 5. Tricep dips x 10 6. Reverse lunge knee drive x 10 each leg
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Issue 96 If you need a demonstration of these exercises head to my YouTube channel Active Spirit by Angele and search for 10 MINUTE AMRAP (https://youtu.be/MVC3n1idZpA). Don’t sacrifice your form for speed! Tune in and focus on what you’re doing. I understand that some people might not feel confident exercising because they feel they need guidance, but they might not have the time to head to the gym. If you feel this is the case for you, you might want to check out my on-demand online workouts which you can do at any time you like and are fully guided with videos and voice instructions to help you understand the technique of each exercise and teach you how to move in the best way possible. There are both shorter and longer workouts available so you can pick the ones that suit you best! Head to www.activespiritcommunity.com to get started. HERE ARE SOME SIMPLE NUTRITION TIPS: What I found has really helped me to avoid eating unhealthy foods is to stop buying them! I would literally go through packets of biscuits if I found them in my kitchen draws. If they’re not in the house it helps me immensely. When it comes to cooking, I don’t do fancy. I’m not even capable of fancy! I literally go for what’s easiest and focus on the nutrition each meal is giving me. In general I aim to do the following for my daily nutrition: 1. Add colourful veg into as many meals as possible 2. Have a balance between carbs, proteins and fats. The general guideline is that half your plate should comprise of colourful veg, and the other hand split equally between carbs and protein. 3. Consume healthy fats every day (think raw nuts, healthy nut butters, avocado, extra virgin olive oil etc) Here are a few healthy meal ideas: Breakfast 1. Scrambled eggs with avocado and a slice of brown toast (add smoked salmon for some extra YUM!) 2. Greek yoghurt with berries, mixed seeds and Manuka honey page
Lunch/dinner 1. Green leaves with a variety of colourful cooked/raw veg such as cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli etc. Throw in some protein if you wish in the form of beans (canned beans are so convenient but try buy a good brand with no added nasties), or grilled chicken/beef. I love making a dressing with olive oil, pesto and honey - delicious! 2. Simple grilled fish/meat with a side of carbohydrates (quinoa, potato or anything else you like) and a generous portion of veggies cooked anyway you like. 3. Pasta - Try adding in some veg to your tomato sauce to give you that little bit of nutrition. You could also use pasta as a side for your meat/fish dish! I love doing this because I get to enjoy the pasta whilst also nourishing my body with other good stuff. Try searching for easy quick meals and maybe invest in a few recipe books with simple recipes! Healthy food can be absolutely divine! If you’re not used to it, it might take some time, but I promise you, you’ll grow to love it and you’ll be surprised at how much better and more energised you’ll feel! If you learn to eat healthy most of the time and then enjoy indulgences every now and again, you’ll never have to go on a strict diet. Diets can be so depriving and if I’m honest I’d rather be healthy all the time and enjoy eating whatever I like, rather than overdoing it and then subsequently having to follow something regimental and struggle with diets/weight/health. It’s very often said but making all of this your lifestyle as opposed to a ‘2 week challenge’ will be a game changer. I really hope that all this has helped you find that spark and eagerness to make your health a priority by getting moving and eating better! Remember that exercise and healthy food are gifts not punishments. Every workout will feel better than the previous one and every healthy meal will require less effort! Health and fitness are one of those things that gets better with time, just like wine! Cheers! @activespiritbyangele Active Spirit By Angele Active Spirit By Angele www.activespiritcommunity.com
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Podcasting For Business:
Can Podcasts Be Your Next BIG Move?
IT'S ALL ABOUT CONVENIENCE Like the product or service you're providing, you aim to make life easier for your customers. Likewise, podcasts do the same thing for your audience. They require little effort to engage with and can be done when listeners are on the go, whether they're driving, cooking or even working. The notion of multitasking has become common practice in our society, so someone lending their ears while they work or play takes only minimal effort. EASY FOR YOU TOO There's a low barrier to entry into the podcast game. It's well worth the initial investment of a sound room and equipment, so other than that, all you need is to agree with the T&Cs of Apple Podcasts or Spotify, to mention just two options. All you'll need to add to this is a sound editing program, and you're primed to go. Also, whether you've got a long-standing business or you're a fresh startup, coming up with quality content for your podcast will likely be easy. If you're already established, you've got a plethora of content at your disposal. Whether you're reusing content or sharing your knowledge of industry best practices to show listeners why you're the trusted source in your field. Having a fresh face in the market doesn't mean you'll be short of content, though. You've opened your business for a reason, and there's every chance people will want to hear new content from a new player. SIMPLICITY A podcast is easy to produce, whether you have a commercial location or a home-based business. Use A computer to record the podcast. A high-
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WOMEN IN SUNIESS
Until a few years ago, brand tone of voice was something written and spoken only in commercials. Nowadays, with the rising popularity of podcasts, brands can really reach their customers and express themselves in ways they've always dreamed of. And at greater length than a TV or radio ad can ever let you too. Here's why and how you should make podcasts your next content creation outlet.
quality microphone will pick up audio better and give the final sound a polished touch, along with a software program to edits audio files. This method of reaching customers is often more affordable than traditional advertising methods because you can do it yourself. START EARLY One thing that applies now but might not for long is that there's little competition on the airwaves right now. Sure, there are many different podcasts to listen to, but a podcast specifically about your product and brand? You can count those on one hand for now. So, the moral of this little story is to get yourself positioned as the pioneer of podcasts in your sector and make sure you keep a constant flow of good content.
HOW TO SET IT UP The first thing you'll need is a catchy name. If your brand name doesn't exactly showcase what product or service you have on offer, make sure to integrate it into the title somehow. Showing this clear connection between your podcast and your niche will help turn potential listeners into active listeners. Check out brands like Umpqua Bank with their show “Open Account”, makeup brand Sephora with “#LIPSTORIES” and the so-aptly named “The Sauce”, McDonald’s very own podcast. Once you've got your microphones, laptop, and sound editing software nailed down and you're about to start your podcast, it's no great surprise that authenticity is vital. Successful podcasters don't use scripts because page
Issue 96 it sounds like they're reading a book. If listeners want that, they'll find an audiobook. People are tuning into your channel because they want to hear you talk about your expertise or hear you chatting with an expert in their respective field. Jason Klamm, the creator of Comedy on Vinyl podcast, says, "Every person who is new to podcasting needs to understand that the key to being interesting, is being interested. Curiosity is everything, even if you've got a ton of knowledge…make each show a connection, either with the interviewee or the audience". Use similar words and a tone of voice you'd use when chatting with a close friend. Your goal needs to be that your listeners should feel like they know you, or your brand, more intimately by the end of the episode. DETERMINE LENGTH & FREQUENCY Yes, size always matters. Most people listen to podcasts during commutes, so make sure it doesn't last longer than 45 minutes. Having said that, it can't be too short that you don't drop enough substance into your efforts. The 30-minute mark seems to be the golden area, so keep to a couple of minutes on either side of that, and you'll be just fine. However, nothing is stopping you from doing the odd added time special now and again! Also, nothing beats regular uploads. Whether it's one a week or two a month, releasing consistent episodes means your listeners know what to expect and feel comfortable telling their friends and family when to tune in for your next one. The pro tip is to record a couple of podcasts in advance before launching; that way, you're not under pressure to record every single week. Back in the late 2000s, Facebook was the fresh place to be for brands before Instagram took that title. TikTok's been similarly making headway, but that platform's not for everyone. Podcasts, however, allow brands to connect with their audiences in a far more intimate way. The fact that Malta's already seeing companies like Ganado Advocates (Ganado Meets Podcast) and Dardingli (Dardingli’s Podcast) open their own legal and real estate-oriented podcasts respectively is a clear indication that this medium is the new one to relocate to. page
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