How Bitcoin Could Cut the Cost of Remittances and Aid

Photo: Erich Hersman, Flickr

Photo: Eric Hersman, Flickr

By Mary Beliveau

Those wishing to send aid, remittances, and investment overseas face exchange rate manipulation and inflated fees when using traditional money transfer services. One emerging alternative to using these services is to transfer Bitcoin internationally. Bitcoin is alluring because financial institutions do not manage its online trade. The transfer of Bitcoin is therefore much less costly than transferring traditional currencies because it bypasses bank fees and regulation.

Several organizations are already beginning to trade and transfer Bitcoin across international borders, and profitable businesses have developed plans to facilitate these trades. Although hesitant investors remain wary of Bitcoin, optimists see the potential to make a big splash in the way $167 billion of foreign aid and $436 billion of global remittances are transferred to the developing world.

Bank-less money transfers are swiftly becoming the norm in the developing world, where less than fifty percent of adults own a bank account. Hassle-free mobile money services such as Kenya’s M-Pesa, Vodacom Tanzania and MTN Uganda are used in lieu of credit and debit cards in these areas. However, the benefits of convenience and low cost mobile transfers are largely limited to domestic transactions.

Read More…

Democracy that Delivers through Better Governance

strat3-cover

Major global trends are changing the way we approach international assistance and policy reform. Private sector-led growth has produced enormous opportunities, even as market freedom and access to opportunity remain uneven. Political upheaval has raised hopes for democratic freedoms, yet freedom too often is undermined by poor governance.

Governance reforms must adjust to these shifting circumstances. As a rule, effective reforms tap the power of free markets and the strength of citizen engagement. Each country requires distinctive sets of solutions that reflect local capabilities and needs. These solutions take shape through policy coalitions forged by local partners. Often, they benefit from international experience in convening dialogue and mobilizing support.

Strategies for Policy Reform illustrates CIPE’s approach to improving governance in cooperation with local entrepreneurial leaders. This international case collection shares program experiences and results achieved across CIPE’s four focus areas: Enterprise Ecosystems, Business Advocacy, Democratic Governance, and Anti-corruption & Ethics.

Read More…

Women Mentoring Women in Nicaragua

“REN-CIPE is [about] teamwork, working together with a person who is blazing a trail for me to follow,” said Noeilin Escobar, mentee and owner of Velas Amazonia, “so that my journey is clearer and easier.”

Dismal statistics state that 90 percent of start-ups will fail. But mentorship can help turn such potential points for failure into opportunities for success. By identifying the toughest moments faced by aspiring and starting entrepreneurs – particularly those who are women – support can be better targeted so that such barriers can be overcome.

In a partnership with Red de Empresarias de Nicaragua (REN), CIPE accounted for the particularly difficult stages in the journey to becoming a successful women entrepreneur: transitioning from the classroom to practical experience in the workforce, moving from the informal to formal economy, getting through the first few years of operating your business, and then continuing to develop and grow your enterprise.

Through connecting a mentor with a successful business to a mentee who is just beginning her venture and a female university student studying business, CIPE and REN created a value chain of knowledge sharing.

Read More…

Shock Therapy Isn’t Enough to Jumpstart Ukraine’s Economy

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

By Ann Mette Sander Nielsen

The high level of economic development in Poland today is often accredited to the rapid implementation of liberal free market policies, or “shock therapy”, in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of Communism in Poland.

The architect behind economic shock therapy was the former Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier of Poland Leszek Balcerowicz, who earlier this year was invited by Ukraine’s President Poroshenko to design a similar economic reform policy for Ukraine, implying that Ukraine could emulate the success story of Poland.

However, Poland’s positive transition does not provide a comprehensive blueprint for Ukraine, as other social and institutional factors were imperative in ensuring the economic growth of Poland.

Read More…

Vote for the Winners of the 2015 Global Photo Competition

photo-finalists

In a world saturated with media, the power of a single, compelling image can cut through the clutter. CIPE’s 2015 Global Photo Competition seeks to highlight creative and inspiring visual answers to this crucial question:

How can individuals be empowered to improve their lives and contribute to the democratic development of their communities and countries through entrepreneurship?

We received over 100 entries from dozens of countries, and our judging committee selected 10 as semi-finalists. Now, we want YOU to vote on the winners!

Read More…

International Youth Day 2015: From the CIPE Fellows

CIPE firmly believes in this year’s International Youth Day theme: youth civic engagement. Without young people’s political, economic, and social participation, no community is truly democratic. And many youth around the world have great ideas that can transform societies for better, but simply lack the platform to speak up. That’s why CIPE youth programs have helped empower youth to be heard.

This month’s Feature Service article highlights the work of four reformers from the recent CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS program – Bahaa Eddin Al-Dahoudi, Hiba Safi, Huma Sattar, and Lawrence Yealue. Their articulate stance on their country’s political, economic, and social issues highlight how youth are helping strengthen democracies around the world.

Read their articles here.

Defining Syria’s Future

Creating a Brighter Future for Syrian Youth from CIPE on Vimeo.

This International Youth Day, Syrian youth face a bleak situation. During more than four years of conflict in their country, more than 12,000 children have been killed. Approximately 2 million are living as refugees, and 7.5 million are in need of humanitarian aid.

Syria now has one of the lowest education rates in the world. A 2015 Save the Children report estimates that 2.8 million Syrian children are not attending school and a quarter of school buildings have been damaged or destroyed. Many youth must forego education and work to help their families survive. Yet what often gets lost in this picture is the resilience shown by many young Syrians and their determination to play a role in building a better Syria.

Read More…