Members of Tunisia’s business community share their concerns at a March 2014 policy roundtable.
We know that North African economies urgently need economic reforms, opportunities for youth, and greater economic inclusion. But what do we know about where the opportunities lie and – just as important – what are the greatest barriers that obstruct the growth of businesses?
A few salient insights emerged from a recent survey of 131 Egyptian and 100 Tunisian entrepreneurs and business owners, which was conducted by the Center on Development, Democracy, and the Rule of Law at Stanford in cooperation with CIPE. Many of the findings will come as no surprise — the business environment and entrepreneurial ecosystems have room to improve in both countries, and political uncertainty puts a drag on business. One major, policy-relevant finding is the need to address disparities in access to opportunity.
Michael Putra, Shell, discusses open policymaking at the OGP Asia Pacific Regional Conference, May 6. Seated to his left are Y. W. Junardy, President, Indonesia Global Compact Network, and Ahmad Yuniarto, Chairman, Schlumberger Indonesia.
At a tender three years of age, the Open Government Partnership (OGP) is growing toward maturity. It has reached a stage where it can reflect on progress made to date and learn from early attempts to inspire action by government and civil society. While enthusiasm remains fresh – palpable in the youth contingent at the Asia Regional Conference in Bali – champions within OGP are thinking seriously about how to ensure the credibility of national commitments and deliver the fruits of open government to the people.
Yet as an observer in Bali, I was mostly struck by the moments of discovery, the “aha” moments that occurred as new and veteran participants encountered one another. OGP is entirely new to many countries in Asia (Papua New Guinea and Burma, for instance) and equally new to certain segments of society, especially the private sector.
At the session hosted by Indonesia Global Compact Network on “Building Trust between Private and Public Sectors for a Competitive and Sustainable Economy,” prominent business people were amazed to know that there is such a partnership for transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement. They immediately grasped the potential of OGP to address issues of concern to them, including innovation policy, education, health, and local development. The light bulb really came on when they expressed that corporate social responsibility is not sufficient, that companies must become active citizens and engage with civil society and government alike to build trust.
Free Enterprise and Democracy Network (FEDN) members have been providing technical assistance in democratic transitions and sharing their experiences in economic reform. Here are some highlights of their activities.
In December, former Finance Minister of the Philippines and Chairman of the Institute for Solidarity in Asia Dr. Jesus Estanislao held roundtable discussions with five political parties as part of a joint project with the International Republican Institute to enhance political parties’ capacity to develop economic platforms. Dr. Estanislao shared his experience with the Philippines’ democratic and economic transition, as well as the country’s approach to decentralization.
Here at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Moscow, everyone is sold on the importance of creating entrepreneurial ecosystems. There is no shortage of ideas for doing this, and the quest has risen to the level of public policy. As Jonathan Ortmans has noted, governments are now interacting with grassroots networks that are driving bottom-up ecosystem building.
Entrepreneurship advocates should pay close attention to the sphere of public-private dialogue (PPD) as a powerful means for cracking the ecosystem code in each community. Public-private dialogue is a space for discovering policy solutions that are targeted, mutually agreed, and sustainable.
Long established as a tool for regulatory reform and market development around the world, PPD has the potential to uncover policy solutions for entrepreneurship, whether it’s policy for financing, taxes, innovation, education, or any other aspect of the enabling environment.
As 2013 flew by, even diligent readers of CIPE Development Blog might have missed valuable nuggets on our favorite topics. The Knowledge Management team at CIPE has done a little prospecting for you and offers the following summary of the year’s top new resources.
The Global Entrepreneurship Week movement has been at the epicenter of an explosion of interest in entrepreneurship around the globe. In recent years, we have witnessed a progression from raising awareness to exploring ways to support entrepreneurs, and finally to thinking about entrepreneurship ecosystems.
Jonathan Ortmans, President of Global Entrepreneurship Week, is one of the leading thinkers who has turned to considering the crucial policy supports for entrepreneurship. He observes a new trend toward — and a need for — pushing policy reforms from the top down and responding to initiatives from the grass roots upward.
In his new CIPE Feature Service piece, “Policymakers and Grassroots Networks Find They Need Each Other for Smarter Ecosystems,” Ortmans shares a bit about policy conversations at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress and the interaction that is occurring between entrepreneurship leaders, grassroots networks, and governments. This is a trend to watch and encourage and I look forward with CIPE to engaging in this dialogue with all sectors.
This article is excerpted from the upcoming CIPE report on “Creating the Environment for Entrepreneurial Success” to be published in Fall 2013. CIPE is an official partner of Global Entrepreneurship Week.
Kim Bettcher is Senior Knowledge Manager at CIPE.
Trying to explain the connection between democracy and market-driven growth can be like trying to solve the puzzle of the chicken and the egg: which came first? Our panelists in the free enterprise and democracy webinar on September 12 did a commendable job of sorting through the linkages and debunking several myths.
One of the starting premises for discussion was that economic growth flourishes when private property rights are protected in a market-oriented system under rule of law. While autocrats can provide a level of protection for property and a legal order, without democratization there cannot be universal protection of property rights, as Boris Begovic, Senior Fellow at the Center for Liberal Democratic Studies, pointed out. In the long run, democracy brings greater certainty to the rule of law. Businesses require certainty for long-term investment, and this is lessened when the whim of an autocratic ruler prevails.
Aurelio Concheso, Director of Aspen Consulting, further stated that autocratic decisionmaking discourages innovation. As an economy becomes increasingly complex, feedback becomes essential to the decision process and feedback is facilitated by democratic governance. By contrast, oligarchic societies raise huge barriers to entry and innovation in order to protect incumbent political and business elites.
Selima Ahmad, Founder and President of the Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and John D. Sullivan, Executive Director at CIPE, spoke about how the private sector can act to level the playing field, for example by advocating universal property rights as guaranteed in the UN Declaration on Human Rights. Businesses ranging from small and medium enterprises to those engaged in international commerce have an interest in regulatory reform, which they can pursue collectively through voluntary associations and policy agendas.