The main objective of the assignments was to establish the potential for BERF’s Innovative Stakeholder Engagement workstream to provide support to:
- ANJE (Associação Nacional de Jovens Empresários), a business membership organisation (BMO) for young entrepreneurs based in Maputo, and also for
- ACIS (Associação de Comércio, Indústria e Serviços), a major BMO with a Head Office based in Beira and a management office in Maputo.
The objective is to promote business environment reform through strengthened engagement between BMOs and their members. ANJE and ACIS could more effectively and convincingly represent private sector views on the business environment to government and advocate for reform through effective public private dialogue (PPD).
ANJE is run by a small group of enthusiastic and energetic young volunteers. The organisation has had some considerable successes: it has built a recognisable brand, attracted sponsorship and significant interest, evidenced by its more than 9,000 followers on Facebook and approximately 500 registered members. It has also successfully integrated modern communication tools into its day-to-day engagement with members, including the free newsletter tool MailChimp, social media, and WhatsApp groups.
However, while ANJE has evidently created a platform on which young entrepreneurs are eager to engage, it has struggled to keep up with its fast growth and the growing needs of its membership. BERF analysis highlighted the following issues:
- ANJE is run by volunteers with other business interests and limited capacity.
- Roles and responsibilities in the ANJE team are not clearly defined. For example, all ANJE management team members have access to the organisation’s main email inbox, with no one person assigned to responding to ANJE member enquiries.
- ANJE has struggled to maintain an accurate database of its members.
- Feedback from ANJE members indicates a dissatisfaction with the frequency and quality of communication, with some queries and membership registration requests going unanswered.
BERF supported ANJE to draw up a Communications Strategy which includes the messages, tools and activities that should form the basis of its day-to-day communications function. In light of ANJE’s existing use of a variety of communications tools, its eager to engage membership and the internal operational issues it faces, BERF concluded that ANJE would be well placed to receive further support from BERF. BERF proposes to implement an IT solution that would facilitate strengthened communication with its membership and build on ANJE’s existing good practices.
ACIS is regarded as one of the premier BMOs in Mozambique with an excellent reputation for effective advocacy with government and the provision of relevant business information to members. ACIS provided frequent and high quality communication with its members through social media, newsletter publications, networking events and an online library of documents. But the organisation has in the past year struggled to maintain these high standards as a result of organisational changes, according to feedback from members, which has led to a loss of approximately 16% of its membership base. BERF noted that there is scope for ACIS to improve its communications with members. For example:
- The ACIS Facebook and Website have not been updated since November 2015.
- The main communication with ACIS members consists of a weekly news summary, which according to members has declined in quality and has not been relevant to their businesses.
In consultation with ACIS, BERF has proposed that the organisation should re-establish and strengthen basic communications practices. To this end, BERF has supported ACIS to draw up a Communications Strategy (Appendix 4) which includes the messages, tools and activities that should form the basis of its day-to-day communications function.
BERF has agreed to support ACIS, once it has successfully implemented its Communications Strategy and strengthened its communications function, with the design, development and implementation of an innovative technology-based platform of communication with its members.