Author Archives: CIPE Staff

Democracy that Delivers Podcast #22: Babak Yektafar on the Economic Situation in Iran and What Drives Regime Policies

Podcast hosts Ken Jaques (right) and Julie Johnson with guest Babak Yektafar (left).

Podcast hosts Ken Jaques (right) and Julie Johnson with guest Babak Yektafar (left).

CIPE’s Iran expert Babak Yektafar discusses the current economic situation in Iran and how the regime controls information and policies to stay in power. Yektafar talks about how the economy has been damaged through mismanagement, Iran’s entrepreneurial youth culture and their hopes for the future, and what the government needs to do to make it easier for Iranians to start and grow businesses. He also discusses the government’s control over the flow of information within the country and explains how an “Expediency Council” works to ensure the regime stays in power.

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The Tunisian Business Community: Still Working to Keep Tunisia’s Democracy on Track

A forum held by IACE in May 2016. (Photo: Kapitalis.com)

A forum held by IACE in May 2016. (Photo: Kapitalis.com)

By Ali Ayadi, Pam Beecroft, and Brenna Curti

In 2015, Tunisia’s business community, government and civil society worked together to overcome a series of political and security crises that almost derailed their grand democracy experiment, and won a Nobel Prize for their efforts.

Now it is the economy that needs an intervention. Instead of transforming and growing, it has been sliding backward. The Tunisian dinar is losing value, public debt is mounting, inflation continues to rise, and unemployment grows daily. Corruption and cronyism are rampant, spreading injustice and slowing growth even more.

As Tunisians lose faith in their leaders, discontent is fueling new social unrest. Violence and terrorism have added new layers of economic woes, virtually wiping out tourism and resulting in $4 billion for economic recovery being diverted to cover national security needs.

It is no exaggeration to say that Tunisia’s democratic future hinges on fixing all this. For one thing, if citizens are worried about basic survival, they cannot focus on elections and civic groups and all those other things that keep leaders accountable and democracy vibrant. For another, Tunisia needs the spirit of enterprise itself – economic dreams, hard work, innovation, and entrepreneurship – to create the prosperity citizens need.

That is why CIPE’s long-time partner, the Arab Institute for Business Leaders (IACE, in French) has joined with one of the Nobel prize winners, the Tunisian Union for Industry, Commerce and Crafts (UTICA), as well as the Tunisian Union for Agriculture and Fisheries (UTAP) and the government, to get Tunisia’s economy back on track. With CIPE support, they have launched a “National Business Agenda” (NBA) – a CIPE process that helps the private sector consult local businesses, identify economic priorities and advocate government to improve the economy through reforms.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #20: Nyaradzo Mashayamombe on Advocating for Women’s and Girls’ Rights in Zimbabwe

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Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Nyaradzo Mashayamombe discusses her work as an advocate for women’s and girls’ rights in Zimbabwe and the way women are viewed in society is changing in that country. Mashayamombe talks about the hardships she experienced as a child in rural Zimbabwe and how they drove her to help other girls and women. She also discusses the empowering impact of social media and the current economic situation for women in Zimbabwe.

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CIPE Arabia: Expert Interview with Dr. Ahmed Fikry Abdel Wahab

Ahmed_Fikry_Abdel_WahabThis post originally appeared at CIPE-Arabia in Arabic.

In a brief interview with CIPE-Arabia, Dr. Ahmed Fikry Abdel Wahab shared some of his thoughts on the pervasive informal sector in Egypt.  His concerns center on the potentially negative consequences a large informal sector has on competitiveness, market values, and norms and quality of products.  Abdel Wahab explained that while one might not necessarily describe the competition between the formal and informal sector as dishonest, it could easily be described as unfair.

Unlike informal businesses, formal enterprises have higher costs, which are reflected in the pricing of their products.  In order to be able to compete, some enterprises compromise on the quality of their products thereby creating negative impacts on the industry and the overall market, as well as undermining consumer rights and the competiveness of the Egyptian products in the global market.  He acknowledged that informal businesses suffer from marginalization, lack of access to credit, and meager opportunities for training, advancement and business relations. Abdel Wahab also noted problems faced by informal enterprises in terms of limited market size, attributing this issue to the quality of their products, which are often not fit for export because they do not meet the minimal quality standards.  As a result, all these factors create unfair conditions with consequences for both sectors as they generate unhealthy competition, negatively impact the market, and undermine the foundations of industry and its values and norms.

Following is a summary of the main points raised by Abdel Wahab during the discussion.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #19: Former CIPE Executive Director John D. Sullivan on the Role of the Private Sector in Democracy and CIPE’s Evolution

Podcast hosts Julie Johnson and Ken Jaques with guest John D. Sullivan right).

Podcast hosts Julie Johnson and Ken Jaques with guest John D. Sullivan (right).

Former Executive Director of CIPE John D. Sullivan discusses how the private sector and a free market economy are essential for a thriving democracy and the role CIPE plays working with private sector partners to strengthen democratic institutions around the world. Sullivan recalls what led to the establishment of the National Endowment for Democracy and its core institutes, including CIPE, and how it was decided that the private sector needed to be represented in the “democracy program” that began under former President Ronald Reagan. Sullivan also discusses the important relationship CIPE developed with the Russian Chamber of Commerce, and the impact of the work of Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto on CIPE’s programs.

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Ukrainian Business Community Comes Together to Develop Local Business Agendas

ukraine-BAs

By Bogdana Aleksandrova and Anastasiya Baklan

For the first time in Ukraine’s modern history regional business associations, in cooperation with Chambers of Commerce and Industry and think tanks, are developing and promoting local business agendas.

Historically Ukrainian business associations, chambers, and think tanks have not cooperated closely to form a single voice of business in advocacy efforts.  In view of this history, CIPE developed and delivered training programs to various business support organizations over the past several years, the latest of which occurred over the winter and spring.  The training, encouragement, and support from CIPE have helped to foster the development of coalitions of these organizations following the trainings in several regions around Ukraine (see CIPE’s Bogdana Aleksandrova speak about the advocacy campaigns – in Russian).

The most recent participants in CIPE’s training program will receive ongoing consultations from CIPE experts, including Sergiy Pancir, Head of the Center of Social Partnership and Lobbying under the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Denis Bazilevich, Director of the Institute of Professional Lobbying and Advocacy and Ruslan Kraplich, business trainer of the Ostrog Princes Foundation. Now these coalitions are taking the next step, applying their training, and are developing local business agendas.

CIPE recently announced that five regional coalitions, from Sumy, Mykolaev, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kirovohrad, and the city of Kyiv, each consisting of business support organizations and regional think tanks, would receiving small grants and ongoing technical support to develop regional business agendas.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #18: eBay’s Brian Bieron On How Global E-Commerce Platforms Enable SMEs Around the World to Export at an Unprecedented Rate

Podcast hosts Julie Johnson and Ken Jaques with guest Brian Bieron (right).

Podcast hosts Julie Johnson and Ken Jaques with guest Brian Bieron (right).

Executive Director of eBay’s Public Policy Lab, Brian Bieron (@ebaygr), discusses how global e-commerce platforms are helping small and medium-sized enterprises around the world to export at an unprecedented rate, and how this is opening the global economy like never before. Bieron also talks about how online commerce is changing the dynamic of who can export where, the logistics challenges that companies face, and the policy reforms that can help micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises harness the potential of e-commerce to reach new markets

Find out more about the Public Policy Lab’s work at their website.

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