AT THE recent first British Portuguese Chamber of Commerce (BPCC) Algarve group conference, various speakers explained the different ways that the BPCC can assist businesses in the region. The event, sponsored by BEMPOSTA and José & Oliver, was open to both members and non-members of the BPCC and around 55 people turned up to hear about the benefits that the chamber could offer.
Chris Masters from Purple Agência de Design Lda and a director of BPCC, opened the conference with a presentation on how the Chamber can work to build relations for both small and large businesses throughout Portugal. “We are exclusively involved in assisting British companies in Portugal, with strong links to the UK trade and investment government departments, UK and Lisbon headquarters and now an Algarve branch,” he explained.
Judy Sharp, a Resident columnist and chairperson for the Chamber of Commerce’s Algarve group, outlined how important it is for small businesses to feel included in the resources offered by the BPCC. “Whether the company in need of assistance is small or large, the BPCC’s job is the same; they build relations for that specific company to aid their businesses development,” she explained. “Our company philosophy is that we help you to drive your business. Just because you are a small business does not mean that you cannot tap into the services that the Chamber offers.”
Judy also explained that the BPCC can offer the kind of practical help that smaller businesses may not usually have access to, including corporate lawyers and accountants. Her words obviously hit a chord with the audience. Speaking to The Resident after the event, Judy revealed that she received a phone call from a small business owner based in the Algarve who was experiencing problems with an employee. Within half an hour Judy had a list of lawyers who specialise in employment law for the business owner to choose from. “When somebody looks through the yellow pages and sees a list of lawyers how do they choose? A further problem here in the Algarve is that lawyers will not oppose other lawyers, so it can be very hard to get representation. The BPCC can find and then provide good, independent, unbiased professionals for its members,” she explained.
According to Judy, the ability to understand the Algarve business culture and appreciate how it differs from Lisbon is the key to BPCC’s ability to provide and maintain success for Algarve businesses. “We know what business is like here – we live it, we work it everyday – we’re in a better, smarter position to create a relevant bridge to the Lisbon resource you might need.”
The final speaker of the day was Peter Robinson, the Marketing Director for Blendon Communications, the publishers of Homes Overseas magazine. His talk focused on the Euro2004 football tournament as an opportunity for all businesses to get their name heard, not just an opportunity for big-name companies with huge budgets. He illustrated his point by explaining how the Nike brand is famous for not sponsoring the Olympics. “Nike does not need to put its name above the five rings. What Nike does is sponsor a competitor or event within the Olympics and everybody still sees the name.” In other words, a small targeted marketing campaign around the tournament can be as effective and profitable as a huge investment.
Robinson also gave detailed statistics on how previous European cup events have affected the local economy in a bid to inspire the audience to get involved and make the most of the opportunity. “Around 280,000 people turned up from overseas to enjoy Euro 1996 and, all in all, spent 154 million euros during the event,” he revealed.
The first BPCC Algarve event was hailed as a success. One businesswoman working in the Algarve explained: “It was refreshing to hear this organisation expressing such enthusiasm for helping to grow businesses in the Algarve. I was impressed by the whole event. I gained a lot of information in a short space of time, I made business contacts at the event and got a lot of first hand useful information. I hope it will continue.”
The next BPCC Algarve group meeting is planned for May. However, there is a regular programme of events being put into place, which will provide more opportunity for social and business networking in the region. If you are interested in how BPCC can help your business, contact Judy Sharp on 966 108 605.