Category Archives: Africa

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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Supporting a Technology-Enabled Advocacy Effort for Nigerian Women

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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.

Democracy that Delivers Podcast #15: Business Development Expert Toki Mabogunje on How Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Are Faring in Nigeria Today

Podcast hosts Ken Jaques and Julie Johnson with guest Toki Mabogunje (right)

Podcast hosts Ken Jaques and Julie Johnson with guest Toki Mabogunje (right)

Business development consultant Toki Mabogunje (Twitter: @tmc_nig) talks about the current business climate in Nigeria, how the new government is tackling economic, security, and corruption challenges – and the private sector response – and how Nigerian entrepreneurs find ways to thrive in even the most difficult circumstances. Mabogunje also talks about how her American school education still shapes the way she approaches issues today. Visit her website.

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How Kenya’s Private Sector is Addressing the “Supply Side” of Corruption

Photo: Citizen Digital

Photo: Citizen Digital

A recent report by Kenya’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) paints a rather grim picture of the extent of corruption in Kenya. In the top 10 counties by average bribe size, bribes range from KSH 80,000 (about $800 US) to about KSH 6,000 ($60 US) — in a country where the average monthly wage is just $76. Situations where bribes are most commonly solicited include obtaining basic services such as medical attention or a national identity card. Not surprisingly, Transparency International puts Kenya at 139th out of 168 countries in its latest corruption ranking.

Even a cursory review of Kenyan daily news coverage shows that corruption at all levels (from county to national) and in all its forms (from bribes to graft) is a major issue of concern for the country. Many commentators express frustration at the extent of the problem and the dearth of constructive solutions. Against that background, CIPE and its partner organization, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), are working to help change Kenya’s corruption-tainted narrative and provide the private sector with tools to proactively build integrity into business operations.

To that end, CIPE, KAM, and Global Compact Network Kenya (GCNK), where KAM serves as the secretariat, created a joint training program for Kenyan companies on anti-corruption compliance. The training is based on CIPE’s Anti-Corruption Compliance: A Guide for Mid-Sized Companies in Emerging Markets and was adapted to the unique needs and concerns of local businesses. As KAM’s Chairman Pradeep Paunrana put it, “You cannot clap with one hand, it takes two people to make a corrupt deal.” Through this initiative, Kenya’s private sector is taking responsibility for holding itself to a higher standard and disrupting the “supply side” of corruption.

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Leave it to the Ladies: Addressing Corruption Head-on to Attract Foreign Investment in Africa

Photo: U.S. Department of State

Photo: U.S. Department of State

This post originally appeared on CIPE’s Corporate Compliance Trends blog.

Despite the thick Lagos air and long journey 60 women entered the The Moorhouse hotel on a recent Saturday morning, exchanging excited greetings and fresh ideas. Women business leaders adorned in brightly colored fabric and empowered with strong ambitions went around the room introducing themselves and their businesses.

It was the inaugural meeting of the Lagos chapter of the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP), launched by the U.S. Department of State in July 2010 to assist women entrepreneurs across sub-Saharan Africa. The program supports African women entrepreneurs to promote business growth, increase trade both regionally and to U.S. markets, create better business environments, and empower African women entrepreneurs to become voices of change in their communities.

Although AWEP in Nigeria initially started as a group of women’s businesses in agriculture, the members now represent a variety of sectors including fashion, textiles, professional services, cosmetics, and home decor.  Since AWEP’s inception, chapters such as the Lagos chapter have started all over Africa bringing together 1,600 women entrepreneurs and 33 business associations across the continent creating over 17,000 jobs.

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Profiting from Parity: The Business Case for Gender Integration in Value Chains

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Photo: BURN Clean Cookstoves

Sustainable Development Goal 5 set the bar to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” by 2030. Closing gender gaps in work and society could add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025, according to McKinsey Global Institute. This figure underscores the socioeconomic importance as well as global economic potential available if we achieve gender parity, the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day Forum led by the United Nations and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

The Forum is an annual, collective effort to convene government, private sector, and civil society and “put on our gender glasses” as one participant descriptively put it. Humbly, many stakeholders – both public and private – admitted this year that the data necessary to establish a baseline to then track our advancement towards this goal of gender parity remains either poor or non-existent. Examining both global value chains and individual business models through a gender lens allows for a foundation of knowledge that helps provide a clear understanding of how strategies and operations are influencing women’s empowerment.

Among the many conversations taking place during what should more aptly be named International Women’s Month, I found the dialogue around gender integration into business model and value chains particularly exciting. Encouragingly, more and more businesses are realizing that social impact and business profit do not always occur at the expense of one another. Not every company may aspire to be a social enterprise, but every company can become more gender inclusive by integrating women in product design, manufacturing, production, sales, and distribution channels within its value chain. In fact those that are integrating gender are, in turn, becoming more competitive. Companies from SMEs to multinationals can now tap into these social and economic impacts by adapting these lessons learned in the following areas into their own business models and value chains.

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Surviving in Economic Crisis: A Nigerian Woman Entrepreneur’s Story

Pat Agbakwu-Ajegwu in front of her store.

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.

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