Call me an idealist, but I am positively inspired by the stories I’ve heard over the past several months from my colleagues here at CIPE. I’ve had the great pleasure of talking with, well, just about everyone at CIPE about the accomplishments of our partners over the past year as we’ve put together CIPE’s 2008 annual report. I remember my colleagues saying things like…
“I think we should talk about how people in Ghana have had this unprecedented opportunity to participate in the political process through the presidential and parliamentary debates ahead of the December 2008 elections. Many communities, for the first time, organized debates for their parliamentary representatives. Because of the debates, people found out what their representatives’ views actually were. In a lot of places, the incumbent was voted out of office in favor of the more qualified candidate.”
“We HAVE to talk about the Bishkek Business Club (BBC). They have done so much over the past several years – their ability to bring together Kyrgyzstan’s business community has been really amazing. They are just so persistent about creating dialogue with the government, and it shows. The government is actually listening to the business community, even asking for its input, precisely because of BBC’s efforts.” (Having lived in Kyrgyzstan and having seen how little interaction there has been between government and ordinary people, I cannot applaud enough the magnitude of this accomplishment.)
I also had the pleasure of speaking with Hernando de Soto about his letter in the report’s introduction. As CIPE’s first partner, he has a unique perspective on the value of CIPE’s approach. For me personally, it means a lot to work with an organization that is, as de Soto remarked, “in touch with the emerging-market perspective.” De Soto approached CIPE back in 1984 because CIPE staff “understood” what he and the Institute for Liberty and Democracy were trying to do. In my personal experience, I’ve seen well-meaning international organizations in a number of countries miss huge opportunities because they haven’t started by listening to the local people. Conversely, organizations that let local priorities shape their strategy are often the most successful.
Celebrating 25 years of strengthening democracy through market-oriented reform, CIPE’s 2008 annual report details these stories and many, many more. Hear what our partners have said about CIPE over the years, and be inspired!
What would you like to say to CIPE on its 25th anniversary? What story would YOU like to tell?