Author Archives: Guest

Street Politics Aren’t Enough: Careful Economic Reform Will Foster Democracy and Stability in Jordan

Jordanians protest over food prices in 2011. Source: The Guardian.

Jordanians protest over food prices in 2011.
Source: The Guardian.

This blog is the second in a three-part series addressing recent findings of the Arab Barometer, whose objectives include the production of scientifically reliable data on the political attitudes of ordinary citizens. Read the first part, about Iraq, here.

By James Stricker

In Jordan, economic factors have played an important role in political stability since 2011. Jordanians as a whole consider economic rights to be a core component of democracy.  This is demonstrated by the fact that most public protests began as a response to economic grievances. The trend corresponds strongly with the Arab Barometer’s recent MENA opinion poll results: throughout the region, Arabs are at least as concerned with securing their economic rights as they are with securing political rights.

As the Arab Spring gained momentum in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen, a number of protests sprang up throughout Jordan in 2011. However, the most prevalent slogans were not against the regime itself, nor were they about securing more political rights.  Instead, Jordanians who took to the streets voiced their frustrations with price inflation and corruption.

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Who Will Reap the Benefits of China’s Growing Presence in Africa?

By Brian Jackson

Recently, there have been many articles in the media outlining both the positive and negative implications of China’s growing investment in Africa. On one hand, many accuse China of promoting another period of colonization and exploitation on the continent and preventing Africa from becoming economically independent. Yet on the other hand, some praise the investments for rejuvenating African industries and infrastructure.

With such conflicting interpretations, many are left wondering how to view all of this. Is Chinese involvement in Africa a good thing, or bad thing? Will it lead to more economic and democratic opportunities for the continent and people, or the opposite?

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Helping Syrian Refugees Rebuild Their Lives With More Than Just Aid

800px-Syrian_refugee_camp_on_theTurkish_border

By James Stricker

Turkey has been one of the most welcoming countries for Syrian refugees since the civil war began there in 2011.  In the early days of the conflict, Turkey declared an “open border policy,” allowing Syrians to enter the country largely uninhibited. Now, in the second half of 2014, the refugee crisis shows no sign of being resolved – while the strife in Syria has only intensified. More than 1.5 million Syrian refugees now live in Turkey, according to the UNHCR, including more than 135,000 who arrived within the span of five days as ISIS stepped up its assaults in Syria.

This sudden influx will almost certainly add to the challenges that many Syrian refugees are facing, but civil society organizations, like CIPE’s partner the Syrian Economic Forum (SEF), are rising to the occasion. SEF is an economic think-tank with an office in Gaziantep, Turkey, that monitors and analyzes economic developments in Syria and informs the debates concerning Syria’s future from a democratic, free-market oriented, and pluralistic perspective.

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A New, Entrepreneurial Growth Model for South Korea

Korea's rapid economic ascent over the past few decades was powered by huge conglomerates like Samsung.

Korea’s rapid economic ascent over the past few decades was powered by huge conglomerates like Samsung. Now the country is aiming to encourage more startups and entrepreneurs.

By Tyler Makepeace

The Republic of Korea is one of the greatest economic development success stories in history — going from one of poorest countries in the world and a major aid recipient to a high-income country and a major aid donor in just a single generation. Both the head of the World Bank and the United Nations claim Korea as their birthplace.

The “Miracle on the Han River” which led to Korea’s stunning economic growth was based on an export-oriented industrialization model, similar to that of Japan, Taiwan, and later China. However, this model of fast growth has now run its course, and for Korea to continue onto the next stage of economic development it will require a different model for economic growth based on an innovative society.

In response to this need, President Park Geun-hye announced in her 2013 inaugural speech the beginning of the “Second Miracle on the Han River” through a new policy called the Creative Economy. This initiative seeks to create a supportive ecosystem for entrepreneurs and SMEs, especially in the tech sector, in order to boost job creation and pursue greater economic democratization within the country.

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Strengthening Entrepreneurial Skills among Women in Nicaragua through Mentorships

ren-nicaragua

This post was written by REN Nicaragua. 

Watch a women’s entrepreneurship Google Hangout featuring REN founder Lucy Valenti.

UNDP research shows that in Nicaragua, young people face an unemployment rate twice as high as the adult population. Young women also face much higher rates of unemployment (46% unemployed female vs 16.8% unemployed male). Moreover, the leading cause for unemployment in the country is a lack of work experience.

Recognizing these difficult challenges faced by women in Nicaragua, the Red de Empresarias de Nicaragua (REN) works to overcome them. With a vision of increasing women’s economic and social development, REN is a professional network representing over 200 women-owned businesses which focuses on developing women’s entrepreneurial capacity and skills.

In July 2014, REN launched the CIPE supported, nine-month program “Strengthening Entrepreneurial Skills among Women in Nicaragua.”  Following a successful five-month pilot phase, this is the second program of its kind led by REN.

The program’s main objective is to encourage entrepreneurship among young women and strengthen the capacity of women micro-entrepreneurs through mentorships. The two groups of beneficiaries for this initiative are female university students and emerging women micro-entrepreneurs, and they are all paired with successful businesswomen. REN matched ten teams (each mentorship team consists of a micro-entrepreneur, mentor, and an intern) for this project.

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Building a Network of Women Entrepreneurs in Serbia

serbia-business-women

By Olivera Popović

While the global economic crisis in 2008 affected many countries worldwide, the shock to Serbia’s society and economy was magnified due to the ongoing transition processes there. For the past fifty years, women in Serbia were most often employed in the public sector as part of Yugoslavia’s socialist planned economy. In the past two decades, the transition from socialism to liberal capitalism and an open market economy has initiated changes in approaches to work and ultimately led to a greater presence of women in business.

In making this transition, women face an uphill battle – in gaining greater access to capital, technology, networks, and acquiring the knowledge to start and grow their businesses. On top of those challenges, the social and economic landscape is characterized by poor labor market outcomes, a high youth unemployment rate, and large long-term unemployment. According to the Regional Cooperation Council (2013), the country’s per capita GDP is currently only 38 percent of the EU average.

Data from the International Labour Organization (ILO) shows that the overall unemployment rate in Serbia is 23.9 percent, with almost 25 of women unemployed. Youth unemployment is remarkably high (51 percent) and even more astonishing, 57 percent of young women are out of work. Equally important, universities in Serbia do not foster enough entrepreneurial spirit among students. Consequentially, students fail to fully consider entrepreneurship as a viable career option.

Recognizing this need for support to aspiring and established women entrepreneurs in a complex economic situation, the Association of Business Women in Serbia (ABW) created “Inspiring Women Entrepreneurship,” a project to strengthen the leadership and entrepreneurial capacity of young women in Serbia.

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To Benefit from Energy Resources, Lebanon Needs Better Institutions, Not Just Greater Transparency

A map showing the offshore areas being opened to oil and gas exploration. The auctions have been repeatedly delayed.

A map showing the offshore areas being opened to oil and gas exploration. The auctions have been repeatedly delayed. (Photo: Deloitte)

By Sami Atallah

A paradox confronts countries endowed with oil and gas resources. Despite their riches, these countries tend to grow slower in the long term, have higher income inequality, be more corrupt and even become authoritarian. This, of course is not the fate of all such countries — many have managed to turn the oil curse into a blessing. Those that did had two things going for them: a high level of human capital and good institutions that upheld checks and balances on power.

Although Lebanon is well endowed with human capital, its institutions are generally weak. The Taef agreement redistributed power more equally across the three key institutions — the presidency, the parliament and the prime ministership — that are associated with the three dominant sects, and in many ways, undermined the political system.

For one, the executive authority became diffused to an extent that it is no longer obvious who is in charge. The members of the parliament seem less interested in legislating and holding executive authority accountable and more interested in providing services to constituents. The political parties have mastered the game of electoral survival by crafting election laws through redistricting and vote counting in ways that get them reelected with little to show for. They have resorted to clientelistic strategies of buying votes and providing services in return for political loyalty. Furthermore, the judiciary and the oversight agencies whose job it is to hold the government accountable were at best sidelined but most often intentionally weakened through political interventions or bureaucratic understaffing.

In sum, the political elite govern the country largely by the logic of dividing the spoils among themselves through illegal subcontracting of projects, violating tendering requirements, as well as contracting companies despite conflicts of interest. This has resulted in high levels of corruption, embezzlement, mismanagement and waste benefiting the political elite at the expense of the rest of the population.

It is against this backdrop that the Lebanese Petroleum Administration (LPA), the body entrusted to govern the oil sector, came into being. Between November 2012 and August 2013, the LPA proceeded rather efficiently and with more transparency than most Lebanese institutions in approaching the sector. It held consultative meetings and workshops, and managed to lay the groundwork for the launch of the offshore licensing round. Now it is waiting on the government to pass the last decrees for the process to continue, and has found itself caught up in the Lebanese political mill with no clear way out of the deadlock.

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