Tag Archives: business association development

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

women-training-kathmandu

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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Celebrating 30 Years as a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Affiliate

uscc_3_color_CMYK [Converted]

Since its inception, CIPE has been an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. A large part of CIPE’s mission revolves around strengthening chambers of commerce and business associations in developing countries so that they can act as the voice of the private sector. As perhaps the most influential chamber in the world, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has served as a model and an inspiration for many CIPE initiatives.

The National Business Agenda process, for example, has been a successful tool for articulating private sector concerns into concrete policy recommendations. Likewise, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Institute for Organization Management has helped CIPE staff train partners around the world in the latest best practices for running an effective association.

Recently U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue wrote about CIPE’s 30-year history of supporting free enterprise and democracy around the world.

Redefining the Role of the Business Community in Pakistan

pakistan shadow budget

“To realize sheer benefits of the GSP Plus status the government should take rationalized steps to minimize the cost of doing business as lack of resources and huge export of raw material is indicating further increase in cost of doing business in the future” – Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Suhail Bin Rashid.

Historically, business associations were heavily politicized in Pakistan, preventing them from becoming a unified voice for economic reforms in the country. Recently, the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry, an apex body of business associations in Pakistan, unveiled its first-ever “shadow budget,” consisting of suggestions related to Pakistan’s 2014-15 Federal Budget. This is a major turnaround.

After six years of support from CIPE Pakistan’s multifaceted capacity building efforts, business associations are now becoming a strong national voice for economic revival plans and mapping government accountability. This was a long process, started in 2009 when CIPE partner Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry organized its first All-Pakistan Chamber Presidents’ Conference.

Initially, the response was weak, but as the effort continued, business associations realized its importance. Since then, the annual conference has become an important venue for bringing the business community from across Pakistan together to discuss pressing economic issues and propose reforms to provide level playing field for businesses to grow. At the 6th Presidents’ Conference, participants not only discussed key areas for the revival of economy but made their thinking more public.

As the Federal Budget 2014-15 is in its preparation phase, for the first time, business leaders decided to collectively present their own budget proposals to the government. While taking the lead, Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry arranged the first ever All Pakistan Chamber Presidents Pre-Budget Conference in first week of February 2014 to come up with suggestions regarding the federal budget.

In April 2014, Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry invited all Chamber Presidents to a second All-Pakistan Pre-Budget conference where the Chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue, Tariq Bajwa, participated at the conference and listened the issues of business community.

CIPE engaged business associations and motivated them to speak on issues of economic importance and role of private sector in economic policy reforms. As a result, now all Chambers are able to turn the tables by raising their voice unanimously to issue specific policy proposals.

There is still a long way to go, but CIPE`s efforts of bringing business community together as part of a single platform has started paying dividends.

Hammad Siddiqui is Deputy Country Director for CIPE Pakistan. Muhammad Talib Uz Zaman is a Program Officer for CIPE Pakistan.

Welcoming Future Business Association and Chamber Leaders

dc chamberlinks participants

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.

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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Women’s Business Associations Come Together in South Asia

SA regional networking meeting

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:

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Death and the Penguin: Corruption, Entrepreneurship, and Hope in Ukraine

Dniepr_river_in_Kyiv

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)

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.

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