COVID and Brexit have left Guernsey businesses in a minefield, according to the newly-elected president of the Guernsey Chamber of Commerce, Diane De Garis.

Despite a post-Covid boom in industries such as hospitality and construction, Mrs De Garis said that many businesses have found themselves paying back money borrowed during the pandemic while navigating their way through the new post-Brexit world.

‘Everything is still very unknown and people are still constantly finding themselves in different situations with new problems to deal with,’ she said.

‘On top of the rising costs of living and the effects of Ukraine and staff shortages – which are not just Guernsey problems – the already-present issues can be really amplified.’

On the top of her presidency agenda, Mrs De Garis hopes that she can restructure systems and simplify processes for small businesses, a frustration that she sees personally as the owner of an accountancy business.

‘There are a lot of things in Guernsey that just don’t work for Guernsey businesses, and it’s really hard to grow a business over here and be on a level playing field with UK businesses,’ she said.

‘We have systems that don’t work to automate things, which then means you have to get the staff in to do the job and there’s already difficulties with recruitment and staff shortages.

‘One of the barriers is [payment] systems like Stripe and GoCardless not being available here, and the way that we don’t have an API [application programming interface] on the Guernsey Registry.

‘I really hope that this will be the success of my presidency.’

Despite having a very secret register for the finance industry, Mrs De Garis said she wouldn’t want to change that but it discriminates against small and medium businesses that are working out of Guernsey and need to share those details publicly.

Mrs De Garis got involved with Chamber because she was passionate about the success of small businesses. She started to attend meetings and events to lobby for change.

Guernsey Press article available here: