Democracy that Delivers Podcast #27: Jerry Brito of Coin Center on the Blockchain and its Social Impact Applications

Podcast guest Jerry Brito (left) with guest host Maiko Nakagaki.

Podcast guest Jerry Brito (left) with guest host Maiko Nakagaki.

The “blockchain” is the key innovation that makes decentralized, digital currencies like Bitcoin possible. Jerry Brito, executive director and head of research at Coin Center and an expert on cryptocurrency regulation, discusses the implications of the blockchain and its potential applications to governance and corruption problems from tracking land ownership to stopping the trade in blood diamonds.

Coin Center is the leading organization focused on research and advocacy on blockchain and crypocurrency technologies like Bitcoin. Follow Coin Center and Jerry Brito on Twitter.

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Donbas Entrepreneurs Reopening and Expanding Businesses in Ukraine

donbas-2

By Anastasiya Baklan

The war in Ukraine has been especially difficult for small businesses in the conflict-affected regions, despite a ceasefire agreed to in February 2015. According to the data of the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, communities in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhia suffer from a severe economic crisis, which is especially stressful for small and medium business owners.

Analysis of business owners’ attitudes in the Donbas region shows that the stressful situation provokes a fear of investing in illiquid assets such as real estate and land. So entrepreneurs in the region are revising their business models, leasing assets where possible and limiting immobile capital investment.

With the goal of assisting SMEs affected most by the economic downturn, as well as those businesses displaced by the conflict, CIPE recently supported at-risk entrepreneurs in six towns (Berdyansk, Pershotravensk, Slavyansk, Lozova, Svatovo and Kreminna) through a business training and mentoring program for 119 people. The USAID-funded project was based on strategies that promote specific business sectors in each of the target communities, which business owners are now beginning to operationalize.

Given the dire economic situation in Donbas, CIPE was pleasantly surprised to encounter several social impact business models. For example, Oleksandr Gadenko from the village of Osypenko near Berdiansk, has a business concept that will extend the public water supply to the villagers who suffer from a complete lack of water.

The business would bring fresh running water to residents of 800 housing units, which currently have no access to water at all. The novel business financing model, involving a mixture of state investment, private funding, and donor support, will allow villagers to access running water while earning a modest rate of return for the business owner.

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Democracy that Delivers podcast #26: Nancy Hendry Discusses the Pervasive, but Often Ignored Problem of “Sextortion”

Podcast guest Nancy Henderson (left) and guest host Laura Van Voorhees.

Podcast guest Nancy Henderson (left) and guest host Laura Van Voorhees.

International Association of Women Judges’ Senior Advisor Nancy Hendry discusses IAWJ’s work addressing “sextortion.” The IAWJ coined the term to describe a pervasive, but often ignored, form of sexual exploitation and corruption that occurs when people in positions of authority – whether government officials, judges, educators, law enforcement personnel, or employers – seek to extort sexual favors in exchange for something within their power to grant or withhold. In effect, sextortion is a form of corruption in which sex, rather than money, is the currency of the bribe.  Although it is a prevalent practice in many countries, it often is not discussed in the context of corruption issues because corruption is generally associated with financial exchanges.

Created in 1991, the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization whose members represent all levels of the judiciary worldwide and share a commitment to equal justice and the rule of law. The IAWJ currently has approximately 4,600 members in 75 countries and areas worldwide.

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Closing the Gender Gap in Political and Economic Participation

Photo: CIPE

Photo: CIPE

By Yini Wu

“In high school, boys and girls are equally interested in running for office in the future. But by college graduation, young women’s political ambitions drop dramatically.”

The voice of women and youth is considerably underrepresented in political leadership positions worldwide, and engaging young women in public service is “the first step” to deal with the gender gap in political ambitions. “We have to start with young women in universities, even in high schools,” said Michelle Bekkering, Senior Gender Advisor at IRI, “and help them to really understand the essence of politics.”

In a recent event on closing the gender gap in leadership, Bikkering discussed approaches to increasing the percentage of women holding public service positions and addressing the barriers that female candidates face with Sandra Pepera, Director for Gender, Women and Democracy at NDI, and Jessica Reis, Vice President of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.

CIPE also believes in the power of women and youth, and has been dedicated to empowering women and youth around the world through its international programs. CIPE’s youth programs empower talented young professionals worldwide as the political leaders of tomorrow by providing them opportunities and necessary tools to actually engage in the policymaking process.

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Using Technology to Strengthen Civil Society in Cambodia

Photo: CIPE Staff

Photo: CIPE Staff

This year Heritage Foundation ranked Cambodia as 112th or “mostly unfree” in its 2016 Index of Economic Freedom. Though Cambodia’s management of public finances and trade have become notably more open and transparent, deep institutional and systemic challenges remain, in part due to weak property rights, pervasive corruption, and burdensome bureaucracy.

On the upside, Freedom House’s Freedom on the Net Index ranks Cambodia at 48th, partly free in regard to Internet freedom. Where traditional media is rigorously regulated, accessible social media and ICT apps present an opportunity for educating, advocating, and advancing positive reforms in Cambodia and the region more broadly.

CIPE, in tandem with Panoply Digital, a U.K.-based ICT for Development consulting firm, sought to seize this opportunity and advance the work of two partner organizations based in Cambodia. In its second training workshop in a series, CIPE and Panoply Digital presented tools for online research, professional development/open learning, communications, and online training courses to Silaka and the Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Associations (CAMFEBA).

The tools and strategies outlined in this workshop are detailed in this month’s Economic Reform Feature Service article. In addition, CIPE has created a platform compiling resources for advocacy as well as membership development and services, financial management, and organizational management.

Stephanie Bandyk is a Program Assistant for Global Programs at CIPE.

Democracy that Delivers Podcast #25: Medhawi Giri and Stephanie Bandyk on Working in International Development

Guests Stephanie Bandyk (left) and Medhawi Giri.

Guests Stephanie Bandyk (left) and Medhawi Giri.

In this episode of the Democracy that Delivers podcast, CIPE’s Medhawi Giri, Program Assistant for South Asia, and Stephanie Bandyk, Program Assistant for Global Programs, discuss how they got interested in international development, democracy, and economic reform issues, their academic and career backgrounds, and what they’ve learned since working at CIPE.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #24: Karina Orlova on the Risks Reporters Face in Russia and Why She Had to Leave

Podcast guest Karina Orlova (right) with hosts Ken Jaques (center) and Julie Johnson.

Podcast guest Karina Orlova (right) with hosts Ken Jaques (center) and Julie Johnson.

The American Interest journalist Karina Orlova discusses the risks reporters face in Russia and why she had to leave. Orlova talks about her experience reporting on Russian politics and business, and the powerful forces that exert control over journalists and media outlets in that country.

She also shares fascinating insights into current living conditions in Russia and citizen attitudes towards corruption and governance. Follow Karina’s work at The American Interest or on her Facebook page.

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