Strengthening Entrepreneurial Skills among Women in Nicaragua through Mentorships

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This post was written by REN Nicaragua. 

Watch a women’s entrepreneurship Google Hangout featuring REN founder Lucy Valenti.

UNDP research shows that in Nicaragua, young people face an unemployment rate twice as high as the adult population. Young women also face much higher rates of unemployment (46% unemployed female vs 16.8% unemployed male). Moreover, the leading cause for unemployment in the country is a lack of work experience.

Recognizing these difficult challenges faced by women in Nicaragua, the Red de Empresarias de Nicaragua (REN) works to overcome them. With a vision of increasing women’s economic and social development, REN is a professional network representing over 200 women-owned businesses which focuses on developing women’s entrepreneurial capacity and skills.

In July 2014, REN launched the CIPE supported, nine-month program “Strengthening Entrepreneurial Skills among Women in Nicaragua.”  Following a successful five-month pilot phase, this is the second program of its kind led by REN.

The program’s main objective is to encourage entrepreneurship among young women and strengthen the capacity of women micro-entrepreneurs through mentorships. The two groups of beneficiaries for this initiative are female university students and emerging women micro-entrepreneurs, and they are all paired with successful businesswomen. REN matched ten teams (each mentorship team consists of a micro-entrepreneur, mentor, and an intern) for this project.

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Supporting Women Entrepreneurs in Bangladesh through Policy Advocacy

BWCCI founder Selima Ahmad received the Oslo Business for Peace Award earlier this year.

BWCCI founder Selima Ahmad received the Oslo Business for Peace Award earlier this year.

Watch CIPE’s Google Hangout on women’s entrepreneurship, which discusses BWCCI’s work.

While still a poor country, Bangladesh is an economic success story in terms of its economic outlook and expanded employment opportunities for women. In recent years, economic growth has averaged 6 percent annually and a vibrant, export-oriented garment sector has generated employment opportunities for urban women. Bangladesh has achieved food self-sufficiency and significantly reduced poverty, “putting the country on track to achieve most of the Millennium Development Goals.”

CIPE began working with the Bangladesh Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI) in 2006 with two objectives in mind. First, CIPE would provide training and technical assistance to the board and staff to ensure that the chamber focused on member needs and attained financial sustainability by growing its dues-paying membership. Second, CIPE encouraged BWCCI to shift from training individual entrepreneurs to pursuing policy advocacy to remove legislative and regulatory barriers to the equal participation of women in the economy.

BWCCI’s work expanding economic opportunities for women and promoting greater involvement of women in the policymaking process strengthens participatory democracy. Women comprise more than half the population and women-owned businesses generate employment and contribute to Bangladesh’s economic growth. Addressing the specific policy concerns of female entrepreneurs expands the inclusiveness of the democratic process and enhances female representation in the country’s economic and political institutions.

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Building a Network of Women Entrepreneurs in Serbia

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By Olivera Popović

While the global economic crisis in 2008 affected many countries worldwide, the shock to Serbia’s society and economy was magnified due to the ongoing transition processes there. For the past fifty years, women in Serbia were most often employed in the public sector as part of Yugoslavia’s socialist planned economy. In the past two decades, the transition from socialism to liberal capitalism and an open market economy has initiated changes in approaches to work and ultimately led to a greater presence of women in business.

In making this transition, women face an uphill battle – in gaining greater access to capital, technology, networks, and acquiring the knowledge to start and grow their businesses. On top of those challenges, the social and economic landscape is characterized by poor labor market outcomes, a high youth unemployment rate, and large long-term unemployment. According to the Regional Cooperation Council (2013), the country’s per capita GDP is currently only 38 percent of the EU average.

Data from the International Labour Organization (ILO) shows that the overall unemployment rate in Serbia is 23.9 percent, with almost 25 of women unemployed. Youth unemployment is remarkably high (51 percent) and even more astonishing, 57 percent of young women are out of work. Equally important, universities in Serbia do not foster enough entrepreneurial spirit among students. Consequentially, students fail to fully consider entrepreneurship as a viable career option.

Recognizing this need for support to aspiring and established women entrepreneurs in a complex economic situation, the Association of Business Women in Serbia (ABW) created “Inspiring Women Entrepreneurship,” a project to strengthen the leadership and entrepreneurial capacity of young women in Serbia.

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Join CIPE for a Google Hangout on Women’s Entrepreneurship

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On Wednesday November 19, CIPE will celebrate Women’s Entrepreneurship Day with a Google Hangout discussion featuring four women entrepreneurs from Bangladesh, Kenya, Nicaragua, and Jordan. Join in to learn about our participant’s inspiring initiatives at promoting economic opportunities for women in their respective countries. The Hangout will take place at 9:00 AM EST (find out your local time here).

According to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, an estimated 126 million women in 2013 were starting or running new businesses in 67 economies around the world. Over the next five years, it is projected that another seven million female entrepreneurs and five million established women business owners will grow their business by at least six employees. Despite these promising statistics, in only seven countries — Thailand, Ghana, Ecuador, Panama, Mexico, Nigeria, and Mexico — do women take part in business at rates equal to men. Women’s economic potential often remains untapped as a result of social, economic, and cultural marginalization.

Understanding that there is a direct correlation between policies in place to support women and the opportunities available to women’s success in business, CIPE aims to foster an entrepreneurial ecosystem for women by supporting educational, political, civic and economic reform. CIPE’s approach to women’s empowerment is guided by the principle that for sustainable change to take place, women must have a platform to develop their power base, advocate for reform, and exert leadership to change their countries’ political, cultural, and economic environment.

Participants in tomorrow’s Hangout will include:

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Pakistan Celebrates Global Entrepreneurship Week 2014

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Pakistan is charged up to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) 2014. GEW has become a yearly phenomenon, with universities, GEW-Pakistan partners, chambers of commerce, and companies all sponsoring events during the week of November 17-23.

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Kicking Off Global Entrepreneurship Week at CIPE

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Each year CIPE celebrates Global Entrepreneurship Week by highlighting the essential work its partners around the world are doing to improve the business environment for entrepreneurs and to support entrepreneurship, especially among traditionally excluded groups such as youth and women.

This week on the CIPE Development Blog we will be featuring success stories from CIPE-supported programs in Serbia, Nicaragua, Bangladesh, Venezuela, Peru, Pakistan, and more! Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter at @CIPEGlobal, or on the Twitter hashtag #GEW2014 for updates!

CIPE Partner Helps Pakistan Government Measure Its Performance

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On October 28, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced that the performance of each of his ministries will be evaluated in what the government describes as the country’s first-ever such accountability exercise. Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party (PML-N) has said that four benchmarks will be used assess each minister: implementation of the PML-N campaign platform from the 2013 election; internal department and ministry reforms; public service delivery and public welfare; and whether the ministry has a strategic plan, or a “future agenda.”

This development is particularly notable because for the past year, CIPE and one of its key partners in Pakistan – the Policy Research Institute on Market Economy (PRIME), an Islamabad-based think tank – have spearheaded a program to track the government’s implementation of its economic policy platform. PRIME issues a quarterly performance scorecard, tracking key macro- and microeconomic indicators, as well as legislative and policy initiatives, to measure whether the government is following through on its 2013 pledge to overhaul the economy.

The idea of such monitoring follows, in turn, on CIPE’s earlier work to engage the business community in policy advocacy and encourage the parties to campaign on specific economic platforms – at the time a first for Pakistan. This program by PRIME and CIPE continues that innovation, and also set the tone for the government’s own accountability push.

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