Tag Archives: advocacy

South Asian Women’s Chambers and Associations Learn Effective Advocacy Techniques

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By Hammad Siddiqui and Marc Schleifer

For the past two years, CIPE has been working to build the capacity of women’s chambers and businesses associations from across South Asia. Last month, they took the next step into policy advocacy.

Through a series of workshops in Dhaka, Kathmandu, Lahore and Colombo, CIPE has fostered relationships among a group of organizations from Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bhutan. The workshops have focused on topics such as strategic planning, membership development, board governance, staff empowerment, financial sustainability and communications strategies.

This June, CIPE organized the fifth in its series of networking and training sessions, again in Kathmandu. Following CIPE’s general approach, it is first important to strengthen the organizations themselves so that they can then be more successful in working on policy reform. Thus after four sessions of capacity-building for these chambers and associations, encouraging them to focus on serving the needs of their membership, this three-day session focused intensively on policy advocacy.

The CIPE team, led by Senior Consultant Camelia Bulat, with input from Pakistan Office Deputy Director Hammad Siddiqui, Director for Multiregional Programs Anna Nadgrodkiewicz, and Regional Director for Eurasia and South Asia Marc Schleifer, presented a range of tools and approaches to help the 19 participants think strategically about advocacy.

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Pakistan’s Business Community Learns to Speak With One Voice

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By Majid Shabbir

The advocacy process in Pakistan is strengthening as the leaders of the country’s Chambers of Commerce and Industry assembled for a series of Pre- and Post-Budget Conferences in Islamabad, Karachi, Faisalabad, and Rawalpindi to discuss the key business-related policy issues.

In these conferences business leaders of the Chambers thoroughly deliberate important issues and send consolidated policy recommendations to the government. Business associations individually make recommendations on various policies, but with a collective voice they are able to communicate more effectively. Their voice is better heard, and as a result more of their suggestions are incorporated while developing economic policies.

In the pre-budget conferences held by the Karachi and Faisalabad Chambers, the business leaders discussed in-depth trade and economic issues and presented detailed recommendations to the government for consideration. Before the announcement of the Federal Budget the government also involved Chambers and Associations in the consultative process by holding series of meetings with the leaders of these associations.

After the budget was released, the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry organized an All Chambers Presidents Post-Budget Conference with the theme of “Together for a Progressive Pakistan” on June 14 that was attended by all major Chambers including Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Sialkot, KPK, and Rawalpindi, as well as experts and high-level government officials.

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Improving the Business Environment in Afghanistan, One Province at a Time

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More than 400 business leaders, including 30 women, met in in Karzai Hall in Jalalabad, Afghanistan on June 4 to discuss ways of improving the business environment Nangarhar Province. Organized by CIPE and led by the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry‘s Nangarhar chapter and a coalition of 12 local business associations, the participants discussed the barriers and challenges to doing business in the province and identified policy solutions to support business growth.

The event is part of a CIPE supported Provincial Business Agenda (PBA) program. The PBA is a grassroots effort to bring the local business community together to develop a list of policy priorities to improve the business climate in the province.

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A New Network of Business Associations Is Born in Côte d’Ivoire

Network members attending the meeting in Abidjan.

Network members attending the meeting in Abidjan.

Experience shows time and again that business associations are more effective in their advocacy when they work together in coalitions, networks, or alliances, whether formal or informal, to advance the interests of their members. When the time is right to join forces depends on a number of factors, chiefly among them being the degree of maturity of the association leaders and executives who understand that together they are stronger and their concerns are more likely to be heard than if they work and engage with decision-makers individually.

Willingness to join forces is a prerequisite for a group to affect change, but it is not the only one. It is equally important for the associations that embark on such an enterprise to be built on a solid structure, to follow sound governance principles, to meet members’ needs and to use adequate tools to present members’ issues and proposed solutions in a transparent and professional manner.

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Will the Roadmap for Nigeria’s Future Include Women?

Nigerian businesswomen take part in a CIPE-sponsored mentoring program in 2011.

Nigerian businesswomen take part in a CIPE-sponsored mentoring program in 2011.

Nigeria will soon begin a national discussion that could redefine the foundations of the entire country. Unfortunately, as originally planned, this process would have left women largely out of the conversation.

On March 17, a National Conference including delegates from government, civil society, and the private sector will convene to consider rewriting the military-era constitution, redefining the country’s internal borders and administrative structures, strengthening institutions to combat corruption, and many other issues that may shape Nigerian society for years or decades to come.

The conference could usher in important changes for a nation plagued by corruption, religious conflict, and poverty — but the original  pool of nearly 500 delegates included just 72 women from three associations. With a 75 percent majority required to take what could be fundamental decisions about the country’s future direction, women were at risk of being completely marginalized.

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Business Community Unites on Pakistan Budget Proposal

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“In a rare show of strength, top representatives of all the country’s chambers of commerce and industry gathered in Karachi and asked the government to revamp the tax collection system if it wants to increase revenue collection in the country.”Express Tribune

For the past five years, CIPE Pakistan has been supporting the All-Pakistan Chamber Presidents’ Conference organized by Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce & Industry. This conference has provided the business community an opportunity to assemble and a platform to advocate for policy reforms in the country with one voice.

Following in the footsteps this conference, Pakistan’s largest chamber, the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry, organized a Chamber Presidents’ Conference focusing on bringing together leading chambers to submit a joint proposal for the forthcoming federal budget.

Considering the fact that Pakistan has one of the lowest tax to GDP ratios, which results in the government falling short of revenue and burdening those who already pay heavy taxes, participants of this conference remained focused on a single-point agenda “to work with government on increasing tax collection and reducing dependence on IMF loans.”

Zubair Motiwala, Co-President of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce & Industry said, “Our successive governments have followed a policy of divide and rule. But now that we are united here on one platform, no government can ignore us anymore.”

The conference was attended by the presidents of more than 18 chambers including those from Faisalabad, Lahore, Multan, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan, Lasbela, Sukkur, and other cities and regions.

This was the first time that leading chambers have agreed to develop a unified budget proposal at least two months ahead of budget preparation. The proposal will be finalized at the next meeting, which will be hosted by Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry in April of this year.

The business community showed its determination to keep advocating for policy reforms to encourage economic revival in the country. Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Shimail Daud, President of the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said;

“The unnecessary power of the bureaucracy should be curtailed for the good of the country’s economy. The business community from all four provinces of the country is working together for the most implementable and serious budget proposals and this time it will definitely bring results.”

Moin Fudda is Country Director for CIPE Pakistan.

Strengthening the Voice of Ukraine’s Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses

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“But wise is the man who disdains no character, but with searching glance explores him to the root and cause of all.” — Nikolai Gogol, Dead Souls

Corruption in Ukraine cuts across regions, all sectors of the economy, and almost every institution. In some sense it’s become a rallying point: since everyone is harmed by corruption, CIPE’s private sector-led, collective action approach to anticorruption in Ukraine is based on bringing the business community together to work towards common solutions.

Given that Ukraine’s business associations are among the country’s weakest civil society institutions — such associations did not exist during 70 years of Communist rule — small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are underrepresented nationally in civil society and political life. Despite this fact, Ukrainian public discourse on issues affecting the business community is vibrant and relatively open. This appears to be improving on the regional level, in part through CIPE support of business associations representing SMEs, a little more notably each year. Individual business associations, as well as eight new coalitions of associations, now work collectively at the regional level.

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