The inaugural meeting of Afghanistan’s Parliamentary Business Caucus
By CIPE Kabul Staff
On November 16, CIPE capped off over two years of work by organizing the inaugural meeting of Afghanistan’s Parliamentary Business Caucus. This new body will be a platform to focus on economic policymaking, promoting investment, creating jobs and promoting the rule of law and good governance in the country. The meeting, held at the Serena Hotel in Kabul, brought together 18 Members of Parliament (MPs) and eight representatives of leading business associations to discuss issues of concern to the business community, and ways in which the private sector and MPs can work together to make sure that Afghanistan passes key legislation to spur private sector development.
Attendees included Mirwais Yasini, First Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, Sayed Ikram, First Secretary of the Parliament, Mir Rahman Rahmani, Chairman of the Economic Commission of the Parliament, and MP Ramazan Jumazada. Private sector participants represented FACT, the Afghan Builders’ Association, the Industrialists’ Association, the Fruit Exporters’ Association, the Carpet Exporters’ Guild, the Afghan Chamber, and the Peace Through Business Network – a new women’s association.
CIPE Deputy Director for Strategic Planning and Programs Andrew Wilson offered welcoming remarks, congratulated the participants on the successful launch of the Business Caucus. He remarked that “The promotion of the private sector is critical for creating employment opportunities, economic growth and the development of Afghanistan.” He also affirmed CIPE’s support for, and cooperation with, the Business Caucus. CIPE Kabul staff – Mohammad Nasib, Mohammad Naim, and Ibrahim Hassan – served as moderators, and talked about CIPE-supported National Business Agenda (NBA) and the effort to create the Caucus.
What will you be doing next Tuesday?
CIPE is partnering with #GivingTuesday to celebrate a day of philanthropy on December 3.
After enjoying some delicious food on Thanksgiving, and shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, why not join a global movement to give back to the community?
On Tuesday December 3rd, join the movement by supporting CIPE’s efforts to develop young leaders from around the world. Through our ChamberL.I.N.K.S. program and the Think Tank LINKS Fellowship, CIPE empowers youth to become active leaders in civil society and work toward meaningful change in their communities.
Watch videos for both programs and learn more about how to support here: http://www.cipe.org/givingtuesday/
Your donation (whether that’s $20 or $100) will help make a difference! By investing, you are developing young people’s skills to become future champions of change!
Last Thursday we held a Twitter chat for Global Entrepreneurship Week to discuss mentors, role models, and the entrepreneurship ecosystem. Read a summary of the chat below!
If you missed any of our coverage of entrepreneurship around the world last week, you can read all our GEW 2013 stories here.
Participants at a recent capacity building workshop for women’s chambers in South Asia.
At CIPE, we take a systemic and institutional approach to supporting entrepreneurship. Systemic in that unlike other organizations, rather than providing training or microloans to individual entrepreneurs, we seek to understand the policy barriers that often make it difficult to register firms, access credit, or conduct business. Institutional in that we support the efforts of civil society organizations – chambers of commerce and business associations – that seek to engage and advocate with policymakers to eliminate those barriers.
In the case of promoting women entrepreneurs, CIPE has focused in a wide range of countries on building the capacity and strengthening the governance of women’s chambers and association, thus making them more effective participants in that advocacy process.
Recently, a group of CIPE staffers took part in an informal email discussion that illuminates certain aspects of our approach to working with these organizations, which we wanted to share with readers of this blog. The conversation began when Julie Mancuso, Program Officer for Africa, wrote to several of her colleagues: “I am curious as to best models for women’s chambers and whether separate is usually better. Should women be engaged ideally through a strong local chamber, rather than starting their own, organized primarily around gender? Is this an area of debate or is there an agreed-upon model one way or the other?” Her specific question concerned her work with a coalition of women’s business associations that are weighing the relative merits of creating their own chamber or operating under the umbrella of the national chamber.
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.
As we celebrate the Global Entrepreneurship Week, we are reminded time and again that making entrepreneurship work takes an entire ecosystem of supporting factors. CIPE’s recent report, “Creating the Environment for Entrepreneurial Success,” highlighted the complexities involved and focused on many elements needed for entrepreneurs to succeed. Property rights and institutions that create healthy property markets are among such crucial elements of building vibrant entrepreneurship ecosystems.
Property rights are key building blocks of modern market economies. They are also a fundamental human right, enshrined in Article 17 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that:
- (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
- (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
These simple statements seem self-evident. Yet, it takes a multitude of intertwined and interacting laws, rules, and institutions to ensure that property rights are accessible to all members of the society and adequately protected so that they can become equal stakeholders in their country’s future.
The International Property Markets Scorecard, a tool jointly developed by the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the International Real Property Foundation (IRPF), takes such a holistic view of property rights in their broader context. The Scorecard maps the institutional components of property markets and evaluates their effectiveness, providing a methodology to investigate the six core elements necessary for sustainable property market development:
- property rights laws and enforcement,
- access to credit,
- efficiency of governance,
- rational dispute resolution,
- financial transparency,
- appropriate regulations.
The Scorecard is a tool for in-country reformers, international policy advisors, and market analysts as it provides comprehensive snapshots of market conditions, identifying key areas for reform as well as market risks. CIPE and IRPF have been using this methodology to conduct research and support local partners’ advocacy efforts over the last few years in countries ranging from Armenia to the Philippines. Today we finally brought all the findings together under the newly launched International Property Markets Scorecard website, www.propertymarketsscorecard.com.
Recently there has been a lot of discussion surrounding the gender gap, especially when it comes to economic participation. For everyone who is interested in human rights and understands that involving women in all aspects of government and business only improves dialogue and strengthens democracy, while at the same time rapidly improving the living standards of these women and their families, this fact is frustrating.
No one can deny that women are industrious, innovative, and enterprising, and that given the opportunity and resources, women can be very successful in business and in democratic and economic reform processes. We’ve moved beyond the debate of whether women “can” to the debate of “If they can, why aren’t they? What’s preventing them?”