Washington, DC area ChamberLINKS participants (from left to right): Frida Mbugua (Kenya), Mariana Araujo (Venezuela), and Nini Panjikidze (Georgia).
This week five young professionals from different countries arrived to the U.S. to partake in CIPE’s ChamberLINKS program. The program, which is taking place for the fifth year, matches rising young stars from chambers of commerce and business associations around the world with similar organizations in the U.S.
This year’s participants and placements include:
For the following six weeks, these participants will shadow senior staff of their host organizations to observe and take part in the daily operations of successful associations.
Through the ChamberLINKS experience, the participants will gain valuable skills such as advocacy, membership development, and events management. At the same time, these international participants will provide their U.S. hosts with intercultural understandings such as insights into how associations operate in other nations.
The program also has a long-term impact because the participants bring back what they learned from their experiences to their home organizations after the program ends. For instance, Kipson Gundani, a 2012 ChamberLINKS program participant, raised funds and created momentum to start several new initiatives at the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) based on his experience at the Ponca City Chamber of Commerce in Oklahoma. This included internship programs connecting 50 university students with ZNCC members, evening networking events for ZNCC members, and improving the Chamber’s governance systems by making the board selection process more transparent.
Everyone involved in the program –the international participants, the host organizations, and CIPE – are excited to see what the participants will learn from the next six weeks.
Maiko Nakagaki is a Program Officer for Global Programs at CIPE.
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.
Last week in Colombo, Sri Lanka, CIPE held the fourth in its series of training and networking sessions for a group of women business leaders from across South Asia, helping bring about a range of positive steps – both for national understanding and increasing economic opportunity for traditionally marginalized women.
This network includes participants from major and emerging chambers of commerce and business associations in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan. CIPE also invited two additional participants for this session from Papua New Guinea, because these women are just starting the process of establishing the first ever Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry in that country and requested CIPE’s assistance.
The idea to bring together representatives from these countries — particularly given the tensions between India and Pakistan, and the history between Bangladesh and Pakistan — was not guaranteed to succeed. But after the first three meetings, the first last winter in Dhaka, the second last spring in Kathmandu, and the third last September in Lahore, it has become clear that these women business leaders have grown closer, have learned from one another, are sharing ideas and information, and are finding ways to strengthen their organizations based on best practices learned from one another.
The Colombo workshop was a productive, inspiring, and an exciting two days of learning and networking. Below are some words from the participants about their experience at CIPE’s workshop:
Posted in South Asia
Tagged Bangladesh, Bhutan, business association development, business associations, India, nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, women, women's associations
Recently I stumbled across Andrey Kurkov’s Death and the Penguin,
a deadpan satire of a single man and his pet penguin struggling to get by in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv. The little novel points squarely at the sometimes absurd but functional atmosphere of Ukraine, where corruption runs rampant and entrepreneurs struggle to hold their own.
The novel follows Viktor, a middle-aged aspiring writer living with his pet penguin, Misha. True to real life, the zoo had been giving away hungry animals to anyone who could feed them. Viktor, abandoned by his girlfriend, took Misha in. For Viktor, too, times were hard, so when he is offered the questionable opportunity to write obituaries for VIPs who are still living, he is quick to accept. Unfortunately, these obits turn out to be a sort of hit list: following each obituary, the subject’s death ensues, which he discovers only later in the morning newspaper. He soon comes to realize that the last obituary he will write will be his own.
Andrey Kurkov poses with a penguin. (Photo: Random House UK)
Kurkov’s depiction of post-Soviet life is lined with deadpan satire that clings to the edges of the structures of corruption that have made the country hostile to its own people. One day a commercial comes on the television: penguins in Antarctica, splashing, at home. Misha begins to throw himself at the screen. Ukrainians researchers pop into the frame.
“I appeal to private entrepreneurs and others with funds – on you depends whether our scientists will be able to continue their work in the Antarctic. Have a pencil and paper ready for the account number to which sponsor donations can be made, and a telephone number on which you can hear details of what your money will be spent on,” says a woman. Viktor runs to jot down the information. Despite his friend’s skepticism, Viktor makes a donation, hoping to send Misha to Antarctica. But when that last obit is requested, it is Viktor who takes a place among the crew – it is these entrepreneurs who have saved him.
Participants in CIPE’s 2010 program in Cote d’Ivoire. (Photo: CIPE staff)
Part of my mandate as Program Officer for West and Central Africa is to establish a sustainable CIPE presence in Francophone Africa, a group of countries where CIPE appears to have a light footprint. So, it was with a solid sense of purpose that I embarked on my most recent CIPE mission to Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal, only to realize that my CIPE predecessors had already done fantastic work, which accounts for CIPE’s popularity within civil society circles in many Francophone countries.
You can imagine Neil Armstrong and his crew, possessed by that light mix of excitement and apprehension in their underbelly as they headed for the moon, anticipating being the first humans to acquaint themselves with it, only to get there and be welcomed by a bunch of encamped Russians: “Ah, Americans … you finally made it.” — I would be untruthful not to admit that a part of me felt outflanked by my CIPE predecessors.
In Pakistan there are about 45 Chambers and more than 100 sectorial associations. The operations of these business associations are regulated by Ministry of Commerce and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan through Trade Organizations Ordinance and under Securities Exchange Commission regulations.
According to the Trade Ordinance, Presidents and Chairmen of Chambers and Associations are elected for a period of one year through election process. The elected leadership, being the representative of the business community, comes from the trade, industry, or services sectors. But to represent oneself as a leader of the business community from the platform of a chamber or an association for a short period is very challenging because the business dynamics of Chambers and Associations are entirely different from their own business setups.
In the last few years, business associations have been undergoing many positive changes. The elder leadership is proactive in its approach and is encouraging youth to join business associations. The young businessmen and businesswomen becoming part of the elected governing boards and managing committees are contributing a great deal in initiating new and innovative programs. With the blend of experienced business people and qualified youth, chambers and associations are performing well.