Renewing our future growth was this year’s theme for the SME Conference organised by The Malta Chamber of SMEs . Leading a future growth sustainably has always been a priority for the agency and once again the Energy and Water Agency supported the SME Chamber in this conference as part of the SME week. This conference included several discussions that touched upon every aspect that businesses, whether micro, small or medium, might encounter in any industry, ranging from delivering daily goods to consumers to financial institutions and hospitality.
The Agency was involved in the Sustainability, ESG and Digitalisation workshop which focused on a number of current topics that are very relevant in today’s economic environment. Our Chief Policy Officer Ing. Charles Buttigieg gave a detailed overview of the works that the Agency is doing in this regard with the Micro and also SMES. A diverse selection of panellists was also present following the Chief Policy Officer presentation to discuss the matter further. Dr Andreina Fenech Farrugia from Circle Group Co. Ltd was a participant of the Agency’s MERĊA project, while Andrea Navarra is Project Manager, Tuning Fork / Nouv Group, who were responsible for the audits withing the participating businesses.
In 2022, the Micro SMEs initiative was launched, with visits encompassing different businesses such as restaurants, glass manufacturing, retail shops, and cafeterias. However, it became evident that more could be done, prompting an agreement with the Chamber in 2023 to extend support to childcare centres and pharmacies, which are numerous in Malta and certainly worth investing in.
Another notable initiative by the Agency is the MERĊA scheme, which was mentioned further above, initially a collaboration between the Agency and the Malta Chamber of SMEs. This project aims to understand the food retail sector better, identify available technologies and tools to improve consumption, and work toward overcoming obstacles. A list was conducted as a list of retail shops, including their technical characteristics. The Chamber of SME reached out to it’s members and obtained information on more than 60 shops within the sector. Information such as their size, equipment used, services offered, and so on.
This information was generated to review the technical characteristics of the sector to obtain a better understanding of the energy consumption amongst these establishments and implement practices to become more sustainable and energy efficient as a business. In all there were 13 companies that participated in these audits, all financed and coordinated by the Agency, with the goal of providing information to companies on how their consumption is distributed and creating plans to reduce it. In all there were more companies that were eligible to be part of these audits however several decided to opt out and a small number were not eligible due to state aid regulations.
Despite Malta facing a pandemic and inflation in prices due to global events, the country has invested in and provided financial aid for energy and water bills. Moving forward, the focus is on reflecting on what has been achieved so far towards sustainable and clean energy and continuing to enhance efficiency for a cleaner environment.
Following the conference, participants ventured into various workshop groups to delve deeper into these issues. There was also dedicated time for networking, allowing attendees to get to know each other and share their experiences.
Key questions that arose included the challenges businesses face in becoming and remaining sustainable in their consumption of three major factors: energy, water, and other materials (waste). Directors from companies like Maypole and the emerging firm Dari shared their strategies for achieving a cleaner and more sustainable environment and proud to be leading a future growth sustainably.