Tag Archives: business associations

Open Internet Principles for Democracy: Stand Up for Free Online Speech in the Face of Oppressive Governments

Credit: Missoula Current

Over the last two decades, the internet has profoundly changed how societies operate. People around the world now access and share information at an unprecedented rate. The business community, in particular, has used the internet to increase innovation and productivity, spurring global economic growth. In addition, the internet has transformed the relationship between governments and citizens, as many people use e-democracy tools to demand increased transparency and accountability.

Unfortunately, recognizing that the internet is now one of the most valued ways for people to connect, authoritarian states and declining democracies are increasingly closing the space for open internet. Governments around the world are now taking actions to quash dissent, intimidate independent voices, and prevent the open sharing of ideas in the most significant communication medium of our time. For example, pro-military forces in Myanmar used online censorship to silence independent bloggers and media. Several newspapers have also revealed Russia’s use of troll farms to promote posts of pro-Putin commentaries to harass opponents. At the same time, the new and rapidly evolving nature of the internet means that many citizens are unaware or misinformed of how their fundamental rights such as to speech, assembly, and association apply in a digital world.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #82: Karim Shaaban on Economic Growth in Local Communities in Jordan

From left: guest host Anna Kompanek and podcast guest Karim Shaaban

This week’s guest on CIPE’s Democracy that Delivers podcast is Karim Shaaban, CIPE’s program director in Jordan. In this podcast, Shaaban discusses the positive effects that CIPE and the USAID Jordan Local Enterprise Support (LENS) Project have had on economic growth in local communities in Jordan.

LENS was created to support the growth of micro and small enterprises, particularly those led by women. Three associations involved in LENS focus primarily on empowering working women and women entrepreneurs.

LENS and CIPE have also worked to bolster Jordan’s tourism sector. Despite the country’s appeal as a hiking and rock climbing destination for international tourists, the tourism industry has historically lacked structure. CIPE partnered with the Jordan Mountaineering Association, which is composed of tour guides and tourism operators, to help the association plan and organize its first board of directors’ election.

In addition, Shaaban credits CIPE with providing local businesses with training and technical assistance. He says that with CIPE’s support, seven business associations were able to increase their revenue and diversify their revenue streams.

Want to hear more? Listen to previous podcasts at CIPE.org/podcast.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on your Android device.

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Uniting to Achieve a Common Goal: Advocating for Economic Reform in Algeria

CARE’s Project Coordinator Amel Belaid (right) and CIPE Advocacy Expert Haroune Sidatt (center) deliver an advocacy training to members of the Association for Business Development and Promotion in Algiers.

Algeria is a country in dire need of economic reform. As global oil prices have dropped and the dinar has depreciated, Algeria’s export revenues have been cut in half, and the state deficit has risen rapidly. Unemployment continues to go unchecked, and job creation is not high enough to keep up with a population in which 70 percent of people are under age 30.

For nearly three years, the Circle for Reflection and Action on Business (“CARE” in French) has mobilized members of Algeria’s business community to work with each other — and with the Algerian government — to bring about much-needed economic reform. With support from CIPE and funding from the Middle East Partnership Initiative, CARE recently achieved a major milestone that puts it on the path to success.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #79: Masooma Sibtain on Women’s Chamber of Commerce in South Asia

From left: podcast guest Masooma Sibtain, with Jennifer Anderson, guest host Marc F. Schleifer and host Ken Jaques.

This week on CIPE’s Democracy that Delivers podcast, Masooma Sibtain, president of the South Punjab Women’s Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SPWCCI) in Pakistan, discusses the current state of women entrepreneurs in South Asia.

Born and raised in Pakistan, Sibtain says women in her country have always participated in the work force. However, most of their jobs have been in the informal sector as artisans. The regional women’s chambers are transforming Pakistani women from informal artisans to entrepreneurs by helping them to market and sell their products.

Sibtain says because of CIPE, the other women’s chambers in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh learn from and support one another. Sibtain credits her chamber, its members and CIPE for teaching her the importance of support systems and advocacy.

Want to hear more? Listen to previous podcasts at CIPE.org/podcast.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on your Android device.

Like this podcast? Please review us on iTunes.

 

Improving Afghanistan’s Economy from the Bottom Up

Lead farmer Abdul Rahman with grapes. Afghanistan. 2008.
Photo: © Nicholas Bertrand / TAIMANI FILMS / WORLD BANK via Flickr

CIPE and the local Afghan business community teamed up to develop an initiative that is helping to spur economic growth and create jobs in the provinces. Driven entirely by the provincial business communities in Nangarhar, Kandahar, Balk, and Herat, CIPE’s Provincial Business Agenda (PBA) program has produced a wide range of results that improve the local business climate, which has suffered setbacks in recent years. In areas far from Kabul, the economy has been particularly hard-hit by a drastic reduction in international development spending since 2014, resulting in a huge increase in unemployment in the provinces. This has caused many Afghans who were previously employed by the military and international donors to move to Kabul to look for work—or to leave their country out of desperation to earn a living.

CIPE started working at the provincial level in 2008, but has stepped up its efforts since 2014 as its role has become increasingly vital. CIPE works with home-grown, provincial-level small businesses to identify the day-to-day problems Afghans face when trying to start or grow their businesses, which leads to the creation of more jobs. CIPE takes the bottom-up approach in Afghanistan. We do not create business associations, because in CIPE’s experience, the local business community views donor-created business associations as inauthentic. We work with associations and chambers that formed because the business community came together out of the innate understanding that there is safety in numbers and power in collective action. Given the context of decades of war, continuing violence and deep-rooted ills, removing the obstacles caused by poor governance is a reasonable starting point for a country as complex and as dangerous as Afghanistan. Creating an environment that is friendlier to small businesses is a good first step towards improving the overall economy.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #68: Stone Conroy on How Business Associations Can Help With Peacebuilding

Left: Guest Stone Conroy, with hosts Jenny Anderson and Julie Johnson

On this week’s Democracy that Delivers podcast, Senior Manager for Strategic Partnerships at the Alliance for Peacebuilding Stone Conroy discusses the processes and vehicles that organizations can use to resolve conflict. He also discusses the need to engage a wide range of players in these efforts including businesses, non-profits, governments, the media, military, academia, and others. Conroy also talks about the drivers behind conflict, and identifies “a sense of injustice” as one of the most powerful forces for dissatisfaction that can lead to violence.

Conroy describes situations in both Nigeria and Northern Ireland where business and business associations were the key to building peace and conflict resolution. He talks about the convening power of business associations and how they can gather a wide range of stakeholders to address a conflict situation. Lastly, he discusses a new, cutting-edge Alliance project bringing together peacebuilders, spiritual leaders and neuroscientists to look at how the brain can be “rewired” to be more peaceful. Pilot projects are planned for Minneapolis, Chicago, and in Bogota, Colombia.

Learn more about the Alliance for Peacebuilding here and follow Stone on Twitter @Stone_Conroy.

Want to hear more? Listen to previous podcasts at CIPE.org/podcast.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on your Android device.

Like this podcast? Please review us on iTunes

M&E, Technology and Network Outages in Kenya

Workshop participants in Nairobi

This piece originally appeared on the Panopoly Digital Blog

Last week, I was in Nairobi, Kenya with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and their Kenyan partners from a wide variety of organisations, including civil society organisations and business membership associations from across Kenya. I was delivering a two-day training workshop on monitoring, evaluation and communication, how to use technology for those M&E and advocacy activities, and how to think about digital security.

CIPE strengthens democracy worldwide through private enterprise and market reforms. In Kenya, it works with partners to build policy and regulatory reform and provide services to regional members. Since Kenya’s devolution and decentralisation of government launched in 2013, CIPE’s Kenya partners have been working with their audience at a local level to ensure that local governments are accountable to their citizens.

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