Category Archives: Middle East and North Africa

Public Policies: The Art, Science, and Institutionalization

hammer-719062_1920

This article originally appeared in Arabic on cipe-arabia.org

As I prepared for the final paper of my college years, I recall my unwavering conviction in the infamous saying by Muhammad Yunus – Founder of Grameen Bank – that, “Once poverty is gone, we’ll need to build museums to display its horrors to future generations.”

Multiple public policies and methods have been devised, yet the primary objective has always remained unchanged: provide citizens with a decent standard of living. This, I believe, can be achieved through paving the way for entrepreneurial initiatives and creating a just and equitable investment environment, where investors, citizens, workers, and employees alike are familiar with their respective rights and obligations.

Read More…

Crunch Time for Egypt’s Economic Reform

via Wikimedia Commons

via Wikimedia Commons

This blog originally appeared in Arabic on CIPE-Arabia.org

Indeed, Egypt is going through a very difficult period. The current economic situation is intrinsically linked to the accumulated weight of poorly addressed economic challenges over the past forty years.  Economic problems were either ignored, or in other instances, their root causes were not addressed in a profound and decisive manner.  On the other hand, undoubtedly, Egypt has all the capabilities to become one of the largest world economies.  This potential has been noted in reports of financial institutions such as the 2010 Citibank report.

The current difficulty stems from fact that there is no alternative to undertaking a comprehensive economic reform program. However, in the short run all Egyptians- the wealthy, the poor, and the middle class, will have to bear the brunt of these reforms. That said, with sound management of reform program, Egyptians will enjoy the fruits of reform in the medium to long run.

There can be no doubt that enacting economic reforms is crucial for Egypt’s progress. Thus, “No,” is my final unequivocal answer to the most critical question of whether Egypt has other alternatives to entering into the loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Read More…

Rebuilding Amidst Conflict, from Kosovo to Syria

Syrian Economic Forum students learning civic education in Syria.

Syrian Economic Forum students learning civic education in Syria.

The Syrian Economic Forum (SEF), an innovative think tank dedicated to strengthening the Syrian economy and promoting democratic and sustainable development is faced with an extraordinary challenge ahead. With nearly 5 million Syrian refugees and 6.6 million internally displaced persons, SEF must operate in an increasingly uncertain and volatile landscape, amidst a war that has ravaged the country and impaired both political and economic institutions. To rebuild Syrian society and empower a new generation that has suffered the consequences of war, SEF (based out of Gazientep, Turkey) has embarked on a campaign to create a new educational model focused on entrepreneurship, leadership, and civic engagement. This new model involves training and equipping youth with the knowledge and skills to be productive citizens and to re-imagine what it means to be a Syrian citizen. SEF has succeeded in becoming a leading voice for the Syrian private sector, even though managing a think tank amidst widespread conflict is a difficult task.

Read More…

Democracy that Delivers Podcast #30: Syrian Economic Forum on the Role of the Private Sector in Syria’s Reconstruction

SEF podcast Aug 18 2016

Syrian Economic Forum (SEF) Executive Director Tamman Al Baroudi (left) and SEF Chairman Ayman Tabbaa (right) with podcast co-host Stephen Rosenlund, Senior Program Officer for Middle East and North Africa at CIPE. Tabbaa, Baroudi and Rosenlund called in to the show (via Skype) from Gaziantep, Turkey.

Syrian Economic Forum Chairman Ayman Tabbaa and Executive Director Tamman Al Baroudi discuss the current situation in Syria and the role of the private sector in reconstructing the country. Tabbaa and Baroudi talk about their lives in Syria prior to the revolution, why they had to leave Syria, and their work today providing information and policy options to help with the current economic situation and to plan for the future.

Tabbaa and Baroudi speak candidly about how their lives have changed, dangers they have faced in pursuing their work to help build a future for Syria, and their concerns for Syria’s youth.

The Syrian Economic Forum is an independent think tank that gives voice to the pro-democracy Syrian business community.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on your Android device.

Listen to past episodes of our show here.

Like this podcast? Please review us on iTunes to help other listeners find the show.

Inspiration from Syria this International Youth Day

Graduates of the Riyadeh course pose with their professors.

Graduates of the Riyadeh course pose with their professors.

The work of CIPE’s partner the Syrian Economic Forum (SEF) inspires on a daily basis. Formed by small business owners across Syria, this think tank is pushing the envelope every day when it comes to thought leadership in the midst of conflict. From creating space for wrecked Syrian factories to restart their operations and put people back to work, to identifying market opportunities for embattled olive oil producers, SEF works tirelessly to develop solutions that improve the livelihoods of the Syrian people.

It is worth pausing this International Youth Day to reflect especially on SEF’s CIPE-supported work to expand opportunity for the young Syrians affected by the conflict. A new Economic Reform Feature Service article describes our approach, which links entrepreneurship education with the development of crucial civic skills.

Nearly 1,400 young people have now graduated from this intensive program inside Syria and just across the border in Turkey. As you’ll discover, the graduates are putting their newfound skills to work by starting new ventures and building their communities. Our work with SEF will continue by seeking integration of the curriculum at institutional levels, expanding access to learning in-person and online, and fostering networking amongst alumni and linkages with follow-on opportunities.

Read the article here.

Stephen Rosenlund is a Senior Program Officer at the Center for International Private Enterprise.

Democracy that Delivers Podcast #22: Babak Yektafar on the Economic Situation in Iran and What Drives Regime Policies

Podcast hosts Ken Jaques (right) and Julie Johnson with guest Babak Yektafar (left).

Podcast hosts Ken Jaques (right) and Julie Johnson with guest Babak Yektafar (left).

CIPE’s Iran expert Babak Yektafar discusses the current economic situation in Iran and how the regime controls information and policies to stay in power. Yektafar talks about how the economy has been damaged through mismanagement, Iran’s entrepreneurial youth culture and their hopes for the future, and what the government needs to do to make it easier for Iranians to start and grow businesses. He also discusses the government’s control over the flow of information within the country and explains how an “Expediency Council” works to ensure the regime stays in power.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on your Android device.

Listen to past episodes of our show here.

Like this podcast? Please review us on iTunes to help other listeners find the show.

What Good is Economics as a Science, if Not Based on Field Studies?

Reem_Abdel_Halim

By Dr. Reem Abdel Haliem

This post originally appeared in Arabic on the CIPE Arabia blog.

I currently work with CIPE partner the Federation of Economic Development Associations (FEDA) on a study to bring Egypt’s informal sector into the formal one. Since there are number of studies on this topic, FEDA chose to focus its study on producing a guide – more of a roadmap – that outlines practical steps to facilitating the informal sector’s formalization.

A series of focus groups based on a robust methodology was a must to achieve sound findings and to draw evidence-based conclusions. Through those focus groups, we formed a logical and comprehensive understanding of the problems that the formal sector faces, so to grasp the disincentives that make the idea of formalizing unattractive to the informal sector. Formal sector operators face these problems almost on a daily basis and with a variety of local and national government authorities. This understanding could not be reached through a typical literature review.

Through my experience in the focus groups and with drafting this roadmap, it became clear to me that with the right field research tools, grasping the on-the-ground reality makes policy recommendations more accurate and relevant to addressing the stakeholders’ needs and, as such, makes these recommendations of higher value to the state and the general public.

Read More…