[page number of print edition: 44]

The Chamber Experience in SMME Support/Development in Tanzania
Bernard Msekwa

Tanzania Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture shares a similar historical background with other chambers in the region. The idea of chamber of commerce establishment in most of the SADC member states was influenced and backed up by larger enterprises in order to safeguard the interest of their businesses. In the case of Tanzania, the only Chamber of Commerce to exist before and after independence was Dar es Salaam Chamber of Commerce established in 1919 by the British Business Community, and at that time Dar es Salaam was the only town with an infrastructure to suit the environment for business transaction.

Membership to this Chamber was dominated by the white regime and most of the members were based in Dar es Salaam. By that time, the SMME sector was still in a premature stage as it is of today. In the year 1988, the first and the only National Chamber was established having a number of objectives such as targeting to the national coverage outlook with a vision of supporting and promoting SMMEs. The Chamber started only with five provinces and is today presented in all 20 provinces. The membership of the Chamber (TCCIA) is made up of small and medium enterprises and big enterprises. About 75% of the membership is constituted by SMMEs Despite its economical potentials still it is neglected and left unattended by the policy makers.

[page number of print edition: 45]

TCCIA, under the assistance of Sweden Development Agency (SIDA), is strengthening the province Chambers in the following areas:

  • Capacity building by putting in place a permanent secretariat, employing executive officers to deal with day to day chamber activities.

  • Improve of communication for the chambers to be able to communicate internationally and outside the country by installing computers for Internet and Email services, fax machines and telephone.

  • Membership recruitment to increase income for the chamber.

  • Improve product and service to the members.

  • Build confidence among the chamber leadership to be able to dialogue with government.

Having achieved all of the above, TCCIA believes that the majority of the business community dominated by SMMEs will enjoy the products and services. The empowerment of SMME sector is vital in any developing country because that is where the largest enterprises originated.

Experience indicated that in Tanzania there is a big improvement for the SMMEs development because people can now address their problems affecting their business through the Chambers. Chambers as a pressure group have managed to win confidence from the government. As a result these days they talk common language called Private Sector and Government Partnership.

Constraints affecting SMMEs Development in Tanzania

Efforts made by many business associations in regard to SMMEs development is being curtailed by lack of a proper SMME Policy TCCIA has already cultivated a good road for the SMME support and development by reorganising itself. But this needs the government's

[page number of print edition: 46]

support by speeding up the SMMEs Policy formulation, which is still in the process.


Chambers of Commerce have to take a deliberate move towards establishing a strong link among themselves by sharing experience on how to support and sustain the SMME sector. Exchange of opportunities available in each SADC member state for our members is inevitable. Chambers should also set a special committee to work on joint trade fairs for SMMEs to interact regionally. And where it is possible exchange programmes for staff of chambers should be established. Lastly, I call for all chambers to be committed in building up a strong solidarity for lobbying and dialogue with our governments in the region.

© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition fes-library | November 1999

Previous Page TOC Next Page