By Aurelio Concheso
December’s local election results are in for Venezuela, and the opposition can rightly claim that it not only retained major urban areas such as Greater Caracas, Maracaibo and Merida, but regained others it had lost such as Valencia, Barquisimeto, and San Cristobal. In addition they made inroads in “Chavista cities” such as Chavez´s own home town of Barinas and Diosdado Cabello’s home town of Maturin. Moreover, despite how the Electoral College blatantly manipulated the way results were broadcast, in the overall national vote tally the opposition candidates beat out the government’s by 51 to 49 percent.
On the minus side for the opposition, former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles tried to bill the contest as a referendum on President Maduro, but this didn´t pan out either from the perspective of voter turnout (only about 58.5 percent vs. over 80 percent in the April presidential election) or the difference in total vote.
What we are left with moving forward is a political environment that continues to be polarized. During the two months previous to the election, the government made private business the culprit for inflation and scarcities of goods, while simultaneously taking steps that practically insure higher inflation, perhaps hyperinflation in 2014.
By Rami Shamma and Stephen Rosenlund
From the start of Lebanon’s celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week, the Development for People and Nature Association (DPNA), with the support of CIPE, has been actively advancing the tenets of entrepreneurship across various segments of Lebanese society.
DPNA and CIPE have been implementing an entrepreneurship education project in Lebanon since 2006 under the Entrance to Enterprise / Fostering Free Enterprise in Youth banners. Within the past two years, DPNA has worked closely with the Ministry of Education’s Center for Educational Research and Development (CERD) to make high-quality entrepreneurship education available to all high school students in Lebanon. Most recently, and in conjunction with GEW 2013, DPNA has worked with the ministry to roll out a national strategy for Life-Long Entrepreneurial Learning that will reach children and adults at all levels of education. This approach also supports and encourages civil society organizations, along with public and private sector institutions, to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit within Lebanese society.
Malach Onditi started Elemach Scales, a small business that manufactures weighing scales, in Nairobi, Kenya twelve years ago with a startup capital of $120 and one employee. Today the company has an annual turnover of $52,000 dollars, has twelve employees, and sells the scales not only in Kenya but also in Uganda and Tanzania. To exist this long in an environment where over 90 percent of business start-ups do not survive to the third year has not been an easy undertaking. Elemach Scales has experienced several challenges along this journey including inaccessibility of affordable credit, barriers to regional trade and access to markets, and harassment by county government officials in regards to licensing and workspace
Elemach Scales typifies a majority of small businesses in Kenya — a sector which currently provides 78 percent of the country’s total employment, more than 90 percent of new jobs, and 18 percent of GDP. CIPE has worked with its partners over the last five years in efforts to build awareness for micro and small enterprise policy reform, facilitating extensive stakeholder input and building capacity for its advocacy which culminated in the signing into law of the MSE Act in December 2012.
Last year Leen Sadder of Beruit, Lebanon had an idea to create an organic and biodegradable alternative to Western-style teeth cleansing. Called Miswak, this twig of the Salvadora persica tree has been used for teeth cleaning throughout the Middle East and Asia for millennia. Leen recognized the sustainability of eliminating both the toothbrush and paste and its application for the developing world. She created a crowdfunding campaign on Lebanon-based crowdfunding platform Zoomaal and within weeks raised over $18,000 from 301 backers — 104 percent of her target — along with 4,400 likes on Facebook and 573 tweets. This bought her money, market validation, and media attention. She is now in production. This idea that would never have seen “likes” or funding from banks or venture capitalists. Enter the alternative world of startup and small business financing, called crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding is a simple but transformative concept. An entrepreneur proposes a business, charitable, or creative project on a crowdfunding website. If convinced, tens, hundreds or even thousands of individuals commit relatively small amounts of capital to support the idea. Taken together, these contributions may be significant enough to turn the idea into a commercial reality. This industry is still in its infancy, but it topped $3 billion in transactions in 2012 and may top $5 billion by the end of this year.
By Xingyuan Feng, Christer Ljungwall, and Yeliang Xia
This article originally appeared in the 2013 International Property Rights Index report, a project of the Property Rights Alliance.
In 2010, China became the world’s second largest economy in terms of GDP and joined the list of middle-income economies with a per-capita GDP of USD 5,432 and 6,100 in 2011 and 2012. However, a number of political, economic and social problems have created a bottleneck in maintaining sustainable economic growth. As has been seen in many other middle-income economies, this can result in a “middle-income trap”. To escape this “trap”, China must work to improve the efficiency of production factors to maintain high economic growth over an extended period of time. This is a necessary step for any country that ultimately wishes to move into the high-income bracket.
Sally Roshdy was a CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellow at the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED).
It was a great pleasure participating in the Think Tank LINKS Fellowship in Washington DC and serving at the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED). Once I learned that the accepted applicants would serve at an American think tank, I was very interested in applying to this prestigious fellowship. The first time I heard the term “think tank” was in my second year at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science at Cairo University when one of my professors emphasized the significance of think tanks and their role in helping decision-makers in all fields of public policy.
ThinkTankLINKS participants and CIPE Program Officer at a baseball game in DC. Maksim Karliuk is second from right.
Maksim Karliuk was a CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellow at the Cato Institute.
The very first CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellowship is now over. I can say that it was definitely a success for me. I have achieved all the goals that I set in the beginning: to learn best practices and know-how in managing a think tank; to improve my skills in analytical research work; and to learn how to disseminate policy proposals efficiently and ensure their implementation.
My host organization was the Cato Institute. The experience there was essential in terms of achieving all my goals, and more beyond that. Constant interactions with the scholars and staff made the experience truly rewarding. What is quite special to Cato is that there are informal discussions that take place all the time and on various topics. I learned a lot from them and even managed to contribute a “European perspective,” as some referred to it.
Some of the most rewarding experiences during my stay were the one-on-one meetings with the representatives of the major think tanks and research institutions in DC. Of course, I had the opportunity to do that at Cato, which included weekly meetings with senior fellow Jagadeesh Gokhale with whom we worked closely on the issues of financial crisis in the U.S. I had a stunning discussion of economics and politics with the senior fellow Andrei Illarionov, former chief economic adviser of Vladimir Putin. In terms of managing think tanks, I had a great opportunity to learn about best practices in managing Cato personally from its Executive Vice President David Boaz.