Democracy that Delivers #94: Manizha Wafeq on Trailblazing the Creation of Afghanistan’s First Women’s Chamber of Commerce

From left: podcast guest Manizha Wafeq, guest host Jennifer Anderson and host Ken Jaques

Manizha Wafeq, a founder of the Afghanistan Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AWCCI), discusses the groundbreaking formation of the country’s first women’s chamber of commerce.

In 2014, a group of Afghan businesswomen, known as the Leading Entrepreneurs for Afghanistan’s Development (LEAD), arranged to meet with the country’s first lady and High Economic Council. The businesswomen appealed to the country’s powerbrokers to allow them to formally change their group’s name to the Afghanistan Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and they asked to be recognized as the country’s first official women’s chamber of commerce.

Three years later, on March 12, 2017, the group received official permission to changed its name and register with the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries. In this week’s podcast, Wafeq describes the arduous process and the significance of the milestone name change.

Despite working in the formal sector and creating jobs for the country, Wafeq explains that AWCCI is still needed because of the onerous hurdles Afghan businesswomen face. These obstacles include social and cultural barriers and limited access to markets and finance.

For more information on their accomplishments and news, visit AWCCI’s website. Watch our latest video learn more about CIPE’s partnership with other women’s chambers in South Asia.

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Insights for Global Entrepreneurship Week: The Connection Between Entrepreneurship and Democracy

A restaurant owner makes gözleme, a traditional Turkish pastry, in her small storefront in the Beşiktaş neighborhood of Istanbul. She opened her business four years ago, where she now works with two employees.

When business owners are given the freedom to innovate and support to get started, they launch companies that create jobs, provide needed goods or services, and fuel economies. In CIPE’s latest feature service article, Director of Knowledge Management Kim Eric Bettcher examines the connection between entrepreneurship and democracy— the cornerstones of a free society.

Global Entrepreneurship Week, which is observed in 160 countries, provides an opportunity for CIPE and others to spotlight key issues facing entrepreneurs and their communities, as well as a platform to share information about ground-breaking programs and successful strategies or approaches. CIPE is developing a new series of “Partner Portraits,” podcasts, reports, and blogs designed to provide additional insight and recognize individuals, organizations, and partners working on a multitude of global projects to strengthen democracy around the globe through private enterprise and market-oriented reform.

Economic empowerment for women continues to be a top concern worldwide. One inspirational leader and CIPE partner is Rezani Aziz, who recently founded the Federation of Women Entrepreneur Associations of Sri Lanka (FWEASL). Nearly 40 percent of women there are unemployed. Aziz describes some of the biggest hurdles facing women attempting to enter the Sri Lankan workforce and how her organization and others in the region hope to foster change on a new Democracy that Delivers podcast.

Meanwhile, the Women’s Business Resource Center in Papua New Guinea is celebrating its one-year anniversary. The Center is a U.S. State Department-funded initiative that is led by CIPE. In a country where women have few legal rights, the Center helps women of all backgrounds access business services, training, and support—free of charge and in a safe environment with round-the-clock security. Read CIPE Program Officer Sarah Yun’s blog for real-life stories about women who have benefited from the Center’s support.

Job creation efforts and new business growth present major challenges and opportunities in many societies. Consortium partners in Turkey just launched Livelihoods Innovation through Food Entrepreneurship (LIFE), one of CIPE’s newest projects. The program is intended to support sustainable livelihoods for Syrians and other refugees, as well as members of the host country. LIFE partners will establish two food business incubators in Istanbul and Gaziantep. In all, the project will support more than 200 entrepreneurs and over 1,000 workers in the food industry. Listen to Hans-Joachim Hogrefe with Refugees International discusses how the LIFE project will benefit the Turkish economy. Gastrodiplomacy expert Dr. Johanna Mendelson-Forman explains how food builds a sense of community and offers an opportunity for cultural exchange.

Anti-corruption and trade issues are top priorities in many nations. A new CIPE program in Colombia plays an important role in supporting the country’s ongoing peace process. With assistance from CIPE and others, Colombia’s government is offering incentives to businesses that expand operations in regions ravaged by years of violence.  The groups are reaching out to local communities for input on economic development. CIPE’s lead in-country consultant Jaime Arteaga explains how the efforts will pave the way for positive change and investment opportunities. Another result will be proposals to improve transparency and effectiveness, shares Víctor Saavedra, economist and a researcher with the think tank Fedesarrollo.

Youth entrepreneurship and mentoring is another priority. The Xelajú Naranja program in Guatemala in early 2017 is intended to help young men and women learn to be effective entrepreneurs, particularly in the cultural and IT sectors. Participants have received training in basic business principles and ways to get their creative enterprises off the ground.

In Africa, CIPE has partnered with Gambia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry to establish a national business council for the private sector, as the country attempts to embrace democracy following two decades of dictatorship. Jeff Smith, Executive Director of the non-profit Vanguard Africa discusses current challenges, which include accountability issues.

Democracy that Delivers #93: Rezani Aziz on Women Entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka

From left: podcast guest Rezani Aziz, with hosts Pamela Kelley Lauder and Ken Jaques

In 1988, Rezani Aziz joined the Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Sri Lanka to network with other business women. Almost three decades later, she’s now the founder of the Federation of Women Entrepreneur Associations in Sri Lanka (FWEASL) and CEO of Adfactors PR. In this week’s podcast, Aziz shares the changes she’s witnessed and helped foster for women entrepreneurs from 1988 to today.

Aziz founded FWEASL to give women a voice and provide them with the know-how to become entrepreneurs. She says some of the biggest hurdles involve access to finance and job opportunities. Approximately 37 percent of Sri Lankan women are unemployed. FWEASL is developing programs to help women gain confidence to enter the workforce and the business world. Projects include training on how to request bank loans and advocacy for changes in labor laws. Aziz attributes much of the organization’s success to its partnership with CIPE and sister organizations in the region.

Want to hear more? Listen to previous podcasts at CIPE.org/podcast.

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Supporting Colombia’s Peace Process: Monitoring Economic Regulation and Transparency in the Use of Post-Conflict Resources

Colombia’s peace process aims to bring about reforms that will benefit agricultural families in post-conflict zones.

Introduction by Tim Ridout:

Colombia’s 2016 Peace Accord between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) made headlines throughout 2016 as it was in the final stretch of negotiations and eventual adoption on November 30, 2016. Although it has since attracted less attention in international news, the ratification of the agreement simply marked the completion of one step in the process. Since then, Colombia’s government, politicians, business community, and civil society leaders have been hard at work implementing the next phase in the accords, which seeks to bring rapid reforms and concrete gains to the Colombian people so they see the benefits of peace, particularly in the zones most affected by the conflict or previously controlled by the FARC. The key is to fill the vacuum quickly to prevent turmoil. Improved economic opportunity has been central to this effort, as have reforms to issues that fueled the conflict, such as coca production, land rights, and corruption.

Blog by Víctor Saavedra:

CIPE has joined forces with Fedesarrollo, Colombia’s primary think tank, in order to complete two objectives. The first is to monitor the extraordinary powers that the president has been given to issue rules that will implement the peace accord signed in December 2016; the second is to do an analysis of the public procurement system in the country and recommend how to more transparently administer the post-conflict resources (which in 2018 will reach nearly one billion U.S. dollars).

Regarding monitoring, Fedesarrollo has published two analyses thus far: one about regulation of a major land reform law (Decree 902 of 2017) and the other about substituting coca cultivation (Decree 896 of 2017). The land reform decree, which implemented one of the primary points of the Peace Accord, affected the processes for assigning, restoring, sanctioning, and regulating the rights of use and property regarding land. The business associations, primarily from the agricultural sector, had serious questions about the rule, which led to debates in the country.

Read More…

Democracy that Delivers #92: Former US Ambassador Pifer Discusses the Evolution of Ukraine from Former Soviet Republic to a Democratic State

From left: podcast guest Steven Pifer, guest host Eric Hontz and host Ken Jaques

In this week’s podcast, Steven Pifer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former Ambassador to Ukraine, guides the listener through the development of U.S. diplomatic relations with Ukraine following the breakup of the Soviet Union through the present. He talks about the progress Ukraine has made from a former Soviet Republic to a democracy. While there have been successes and failures, much has been accomplished in the area of economic development and a transition to a market economy. But much more needs to be done in Ukraine, particularly with respect to the biggest threat to democracy there according to Pifer: corruption.

Pifer was the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine from 1998 to 2000.

Want to hear more? Listen to previous podcasts at CIPE.org/podcast.

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Ghana’s Growing Pains: Young People’s Economic Priorities Differ from Government’s Plans

Ghana’s disconnect between the government’s focus on agriculture and young people’s desire for better-quality jobs poses an obstacle to democracy and economic development.

Ghana’s millennial generation wants a change to the status quo, and with 57 percent of the country’s population under the age of 25, it is time for leaders to take note. The new government hopes that strengthening the agriculture sector will help to create jobs and combat youth unemployment. However, the government may have to convince young Ghanaians that focusing on agriculture is the right solution, according to a national survey sponsored by the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). The country’s economic landscape is changing, and with increasing connectivity and the rise of Accra as a regional hub, young people will not be content with their parents’ agricultural jobs. Instead, they want stable work that benefits from the promises of a transitioning economy.

In Ghana, the disconnect between opportunities presented by the government and the type of jobs that young people want poses a major obstacle to democracy and economic development. Education holds the promise of access to better jobs, and the government will be under pressure to deliver these jobs as more of the country’s youth reach working age. What constitutes a quality job for young Ghanaians? For now, the answer does not seem to lie in agricultural jobs. In order to respond to the needs of Ghanaian millennials and support economic growth and transition, it is an increasingly important question to ask.

Cocoa is a top export of West African countries, including Ghana.

Since taking office in early 2017, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo has launched five policy initiatives to support agriculture, education access, and job creation, and foster a business-friendly environment. Following Akufo-Addo’s election victory in December of 2016, CIPE and the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in Ghana conducted a national survey of Ghanaians’ top policy priorities. VOTO Mobile administered the survey via cell phone in March 2017 to 1,641 people across Ghana’s 10 regions. The survey results, as interpreted by CIPE, indicate national support for reducing barriers to education, and a shift away from agriculture among younger Ghanaians.

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Democracy that Delivers #91: Hudson Hollister on how Open Data Supports Accountability and Business Opportunities

From left: guest host Ryan Musser with podcast guest Hudson Hollister

Hudson Hollister quit his congressional job in 2012 and used his retirement savings to found The Data Coalition.  His mission: to make U.S. government spending information more transparent and publicly available.  The Data Coalition successfully pushed for new laws requiring federal agencies to release key financial figures on one internet site and use the same format.

Despite some big implementation challenges, Hollister says the requirements make government leaders more accountable to the public and provide new business opportunities to the private sector.  In this week’s podcast, Hollister outlines next steps and new value propositions for entrepreneurs.  CIPE’s Ryan Musser provides a global perspective, sharing his experiences about coalition building among competing businesses in Africa.

Visit the Data Coalition website for more information, news, events, and updates.

See also our recent CIPE project surrounding Open Internet.

Want to hear more? Listen to previous podcasts at CIPE.org/podcast.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on your Android device.

Like this podcast? Please review us on iTunes.