News from the Free Enterprise and Democracy Network

FEDN

Free Enterprise and Democracy Network (FEDN) members have been providing technical assistance in democratic transitions and sharing their experiences in economic reform. Here are some highlights of their activities.

In December, former Finance Minister of the Philippines and Chairman of the Institute for Solidarity in Asia Dr. Jesus Estanislao held roundtable discussions with five political parties as part of a joint project with the International Republican Institute to enhance political parties’ capacity to develop economic platforms. Dr. Estanislao shared his experience with the Philippines’ democratic and economic transition, as well as the country’s approach to decentralization.

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The Future of Crowdfunding Around the World

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This Saturday, April 5, marked the two-year anniversary of the signing of the Jumpstart Our Business Startup Act (JOBS Act), which paved the way for “equity crowdfunding” in the United States.

This year, the crowdfunding community celebrated that anniversary as Global Crowdfunding Day. While rules are still being drafted to make equity crowdfunding a reality in U.S., the broader crowdfunding world has already grown by leaps and bounds since that act was signed into law.

Simply put, crowdfunding allows anyone to invest in making an idea a reality — whether it’s a new product, a business, a book, movie, album, or video game, or a charitable project. By harnessing the power of the Internet and social media, crowdfunding platforms let people with innovative ideas harness donations as small as $1 from thousands or tens of thousands of people around the world who share their enthusiasm.

Someday, equity crowdfunding will allow these contributors to earn a return on their investment when they invest in a project like Oculus Rift, which was recently bought by Facebook for $2 billion. In the meantime, however, there is no shortage of creative ideas and potential in the crowdfunding community.

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Is Local Government in Libya the Solution?

Heavily armed vehicles belonging to the military council of the self-declared autonomous region of Cyrenaica, which are deployed to protect oil ports, drive past at a checkpoint, near the east of the city of Sirte March 14, 2014. Former Libyan prime minister Ali Zeidan has fled to Europe after parliament voted him out of office on Tuesday over his failure to stop rebels exporting oil independently in a brazen challenge to the nation's fragile unity. The standoff over control of oil exports threatens to deepen dangerous regional and tribal faultlines in Libya where rival militias with powerbases in the east and west back competing political factions in the transitional government. Picture taken March 14, 2014.  REUTERS/Stringer (LIBYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS ENERGY) - RTR3H6EP

Mahmoud Bader is CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellow at the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED). This post also appeared on The Atlantic Council blog.

As Libya faces numerous challenges with the existence of federalists and militia groups, the question of decentralization grows in urgency. Libyans need to bolster local government in an effort to leave their past behind and meet their everyday needs, but lack the adequate legal and constitutional framework to ensure better governance. As Libya struggles to fill the remaining seats in the Constitutional Committee, it must also consider the language it plans to adopt to protect the decentralization process.

The move towards local governance emerged during the 2011 revolution when local councils arose to handle city affairs, an arrangement that continues today. Libyans welcomed the change. With the former regime centralized in Tripoli, citizens traveled inordinate distances from all over the country to complete tasks that they could have handled in their own cities, including basic bureaucratic services like stamps and signatures that could easily have been provided in other cities.

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Best Practices in a Virtual Mentorship

What does it take to make a virtual mentorship successful? How effectively can experienced professionals share their expertise and wisdom by mentoring non-profit organizations around the world?

Through the KnowHow Mentorship platform, a virtual mentorship program that links the professional skills of volunteers with the needs of associations and chambers of commerce from around the world seeking technical assistance, CIPE is currently facilitating 13 virtual mentorships between experienced association executives from the U.S., Canada, and Europe with mentee associations all the way from Bangladesh to Tunisia.

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Corruption Allegations Roil Thailand — Again

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This article originally appeared on the Thomson Reuters TrustLaw Governance blog.

Thailand lifted its state of emergency, and the February 2 elections have been annulled.  Encouragingly, the leaders of the government and the opposition are signaling – albeit tentatively and obliquely – a willingness to negotiate an end to the country’s ongoing political crisis. But even if Thailand can extricate itself from its latest political quagmire, the next crisis is probably not far off if the underlying problems are not addressed.

More than any other issue, corruption has served to delegitimize successive governments in the eyes of competing segments of Thai society. In 2006, the military ousted an elected government and in 2008, the Supreme Court disbanded an elected government; in both cases, the stated justification was corruption. Likewise, allegations of corruption are among the paramount drivers of the anti-government protests taking place in Bangkok today, just as they were in the color-coordinated protests of recent years.

And this frustration with corruption is not limited to corruption in electoral processes or campaign fraud. Corruption is a daily phenomenon for many citizens and businesses, and people are fed up with it.

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Linking Growth and Governance for Inclusive Development and Effective International Cooperation

FSmarch31Academics and development practitioners have long sought out commonalities of sustainable economic growth in different economies around the world. While there is no one formula for achieving economic growth and stability, inclusive growth and accountable governance have been central components of progress. Effective governance, while not traditionally thought of as part of an international development agenda, has come to be seen as an essential component of international economic development.

In the latest Economic Reform Feature Service article, consultant James Michel explores the complex relationship between good governance and economic development around the world. He looks at the ways in which academics and practical experience shape these two intertwined factors of development.

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Ukrainian Businesses Should Use the Momentum to Speak Up

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By Iryna Fedets

In Kyiv and in other cities across Ukraine, small and medium-sized businesses were a driving force in the recent protests that resulted in the ouster of former President Viktor Yanukovich and the formation of a new Cabinet of Ministers. Entrepreneurs personally participated in the pro-European Union movement, both on the streets and in financing the demonstrations and providing food and medical supplies.

According to a poll conducted in early February 2014, business owners made up about 17 percent of the protesters, although business owners only make up 4 percent of Ukraine’s overall population. Following the 2008 recession, the former government imposed changes in the regulatory and tax structure that increased corruption and raised the burdens on small business, which helped draw them to the streets.

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