Secure messaging apps like Telegram have become an increasingly important part of NGO and civil society work in many countries.
What makes CIPE’s programs stand out is the caliber of our partners. From developing the first ever local business agendas in Ukraine, sparking economic policy debates for the first time in Nepal, to leading the private sector cooperate with local governments and security forces to combat insecurity in Tijuana, Mexico, CIPE partners around the world are doing tremendous work to create a more sustainable democratic and economic communities.
During this process, however, many of them face risks while operating in challenging – and sometimes dangerous – environments. It may be because they exist in countries where civil society is facing a challenge; or it might because powerful companies are closely tied with the ruling political party. Whatever the reason, CIPE understands that all our partners take risks by challenging the status quo. To this end, CIPE has supported our partners to maneuver in difficult environments by equipping them with mobile or online tools that could lower their risks.
NOTE: As you explore the tools, please keep these points in your mind.
- Despite the sophistication of the tools mentioned below, organizations should not rely solely on digital security for their safety, even if they are being careful. Many authoritarian governments are digitally savvy, so in some environments it is impossible to be 100% secure. Organizations should make sure they are following all the laws and regulations (even if they are burdensome), and that they are not communicating in ways that would put individuals at risk, even if they were compromised.
- Carefully review and understand the privacy policies of any tools before using them.
- Adopting new technology is like a behavior change – it takes time and effort, so be patient if your organization decides to adopt and use one of the tools for your organization.
The following are some suggested tools and strategies that CIPE has shared with our community. They are common threats and risks associated with using certain ICTs, as well as possible products and strategies to consider using to improve your organization’s security measures.
One of the exciting initiatives I’m leading here at CIPE is to support our partners become better equipped with low-cost online or mobile tools that could improve their operations or programs. Our network of partners do tremendous work – whether that’s developing business and leadership skills in young Peruvians from across the country or igniting debates on economic policies in Nepal – often in challenging environments with limited budgets.
Their work would be even more powerful if they had knowledge on latest technology tools that could make their work more efficient – and that’s where my initiative comes in. We assess the technological environment in which our partners operate, and try to understand in what areas they are looking to enhance their capacity. Based on this information, CIPE worked with our technical expertise partner, Panoply Digital, to support the growth of our partners by equipping them with useful technologies that would make their work more productive.
To this end, CIPE and Panoply Digital led a workshop in Lagos back in February. We trained the Association of Nigerian Women Business Network (ANWBN), a collation of women’s business and professional associations in Nigeria. ANWBN is in midst of preparing to develop a national business agenda, a set of policy reform recommendations to address the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, and they reached out to CIPE to learn tech tools that could add value during this process.
In this month’s Feature Service article, I explain the main takeaways from CIPE’s experience working with ANWBN to improve the coalition members’ ability to lead technology-enabled advocacy efforts for women entrepreneurs in Nigeria. This included:
- ANWBN operates in a very challenging and frustrating technological environment, including low bandwidth, limited access to connectivity, and frequent power outages
- All ANWBN members used mobile services and used tem as part of their business communication
- Because advocacy is the main upcoming activity for ANWBN, the strategies focused on teaching ANWBN members with applicable tools that would feed into its national business agenda process, including data collection, research, and communications
To learn more about the specific tools that were taught, as well as the adoption rate of the tools that were introduced, read the latest Economic Reform Feature Service article.
Maiko Nakagaki is a Program Officer for Global Programs at CIPE.
From the report on page 14. It shows that in 2014, eBay was the primarily an export platform for the eBay-enabled SMEs in Chile, Colombia, South Africa, Indonesia, and Thailand
Can e-commerce markets help create a more inclusive global economy where small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from developing countries can export their products overseas without facing major obstacles? According to a recent report published by eBay Public Policy Lab, Small Online Business Growth Report: Towards an Inclusive Global Economy, the answer is yes.
As the World Economic Forum notes, internet-based commerce sites have a positive impact for SMEs around the world because they open up new export opportunities, facilitate access to low-cost imported inputs, and e-commerce marketplaces make it easier to globally sell and source goods by reducing non-tariff barriers to trade, such as access to information.
The eBay report looked at its own data to examine if these arguments were true. The datasets of transactions from small online business (sellers with sales of more than USD $10,000 on eBay marketplace) from 2010 to 2014 in 18 countries, including emerging markets like Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, South Africa, India, Indonesia and Thailand.
How can civil society organizations gather more data and information from its constituents for a better public private dialogue (PPD) process? Taking advantage of available free or low-cost mobile technologies is one answer.
Mobile technologies have transformed how people across the world communicate and access information. According to the GSMA, already 3.2 billion people around the world are online and out of them, 2.4 billion are accessing the internet via mobile. And this number is expected to keep rising as mobiles and data services become more available and affordable in different parts of emerging markets. It’s obvious that, then, PPD conveners should leverage mobile tools to engage more with their stakeholders.
The International Training Centre of the International Labor Organisation (ITCILO) developed an interactive toolkit on mobile engagement for business member organizations (BMOs) and other civil society organizations to use to better interact with constituents. The online toolkit reviews:
- Reasons for using mobile tools for engagement
- Methods and strategies to use depending on delivering content, gathering feedback or providing support for an issue
- Step-by-step demonstration on how to use 10 different mobile tools for engagement
Explore the toolkit and find new ways to improve your PPD process using mobile tools.
Maiko Nakagaki is a Program Officer for Global Programs at CIPE.
A farmer checks market information on a mobile phone. Photo: United Nations
In the last decade, countless development projects have piloted new tools to reach more beneficiaries or to make current systems more efficient. While the intentions of such initiatives are good, often the results are not stellar.
This is because digital development projects often favor one-off activities, like hackathons. The best solutions are focused on identifying an immediate solution for a particular sector and location. As such, products are developed in silos and many never go beyond the pilot phases.
A good example of this disaster is what happened in Uganda with mHealth initiatives. In 2008 and 2009, Uganda had 23 similar mHealth projects led by different development organizations that failed to scale up and ended shortly after the initial funding. The problem got so bad that Uganda’s Ministry of Health declared a moratorium on pilot mHealth initiatives.
Map of Mhealth Pilots in Uganda. Source: Sean Blaschke, Technology for Development Specialist at UNICEF Uganda
To prevent such failures, leading global development practitioners, including the Gates Foundation and UNDP, have endorsed the Principles for Digital Development. What exactly are the Principles? They’re a community-developed set of guidelines to help the development community integrate best practices into technology or digital-based projects.
Pat Agbakwu-Ajegwu in front of her store.
“As a business owner, you either choose to survive or die. And surviving in this state of economic crisis in Nigeria requires creative thinking.”
On my recent trip to Lagos, Nigeria, I spoke with Patricia (Pat) Agbakwu -Ajegwu, the owner of Xklusive Patsie and the former president of the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria. She shared with me some challenges that women entrepreneurs in Nigeria are facing in midst of economic turmoil.
Since the peak in 2014, the global price of oil has decreased by over 70 percent. As a result, petrostates like Nigeria, which relies on oil sales for 75 percent of government revenue and 95 percent of its export earnings, are hurting. This is especially felt by small business owners in Nigeria.
Participants at the ITCILO training in Turin. (Photo: ITCILO)
As many previous CIPE blog pieces have pointed out, empowering women entrepreneurs leads to inclusive economic growth around the world. This point was further explored in a recent McKinsey report, The power of parity: How advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth:
“We consider a “full-potential” scenario in which women participate in the economy identically to men, and find that it would add up to $28 trillion, or 26 percent, to annual global GDP in 2025 compared with a business-as-usual scenario.”
One way to increase the number of women entrepreneurs is by addressing the bottlenecks that prevent women from becoming business owners or circumstances that prevent them from expanding their businesses. And this can be done through policy reforms via business associations and chambers. To this end, CIPE and the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (ITC-ILO) held a joint week-long training-of-trainers session “Women Empowerment through Business Member Organizations (BMOs)” at the ITC-ILO campus in Turin.