Participants at a recent training workshop for South Asian women’s business associations in Kathmandu.
African women are almost twice as likely to have a new business idea they would like to develop than women in Europe and the United States, according to a new study commissioned by Dell. This is further proof of what many of us already know – that there is no lack of ideas and energy among women entrepreneurs in developing countries. It is institutional barriers and local economic conditions that primarily hold back women who are looking to start a business.
CIPE and its partners have supported women entrepreneurs in a number of countries to make significant gains in increasing their role in the economy and their input to public policy. For example, women’s business associations in Nigeria have successfully advocated to increase their role in a national conference to review the nation’s governing institutions.
In Pakistan, CIPE and its partners worked to reform the National Trade Organizations Ordinance to allow women to form their own associations and improve women’s representation on already established chamber boards. The Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry has successfully advocated for local and national level policies to improve access to credit for women entrepreneurs. And in Papua New Guinea, a new CIPE-supported women’s business association helped to establish a “women’s desk” at the largest commercial bank in the country to make it easier for women entrepreneurs to obtain bank loans.
By Gustavo Guerrero and Laura Boyette
The economic and political climate in Venezuela today has grown to crisis levels as the government consolidates power and limits the freedoms of entrepreneurs and the private sector through harmful legislation and the nationalization of private businesses. In the face of these challenges, the Federation of Chambers and Associations of Commerce and Production (FEDECAMARAS) continues working hard to advocate for policies that will grow the Venezuelan economy and provide more opportunities to young entrepreneurs, both of which are essential to creating a brighter future for Venezuela. In May Jorge Roig, President of FEDECAMARAS, sat down for an interview with CIPE and discussed the role of the private sector and its advocates in Venezuela.
Roig stressed the importance of cooperation between business, society, and government, saying that without engaging these groups in dialogue, substantive change will not occur. In recent years, the Chávez and Maduro governments have depicted the private sector and organizations such as FEDECAMARAS as the source of Venezuela’s economic problems, claiming they have political aspirations. However, Roig defined the role of FEDECAMARAS very clearly – not to be a political power, but rather to influence it on behalf of entrepreneurs. Furthermore, organizations such as FEDECAMARAS not only protect free enterprise, but also support democratic values and act in the best interests of the society as a whole.
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.
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.
CIPE Pakistan has completed its 7th successful year. The 2013 Pakistan Activities Report details the progress of yet another instrumental year for policy reform driven by the private sector in the country.
Following are the highlights of the report:
“Learning, networking, beginning of new friendships, exposure to cases of mutual interests – that is what this forum is to me” - Secretary General, Pakistan Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce & Industry
“It was very informative conference, especially the new idea of panel discussion was excellent. In panel discussion so many legitimate issues came under discussion and the participants shared their experiences and exchange views. This idea of panel discussion provided the opportunity for better understanding about membership development, litigation issues, and preparation of annual performance report/proposed plan activities and how to avail the facility of funding from donor organizations, which is no doubt a great assistance for the Secretary General to perform their obligations for the betterment of members as well for the organization” - Secretary General, Sargodha Chamber of Commerce & Industry
“Take away from this year conference is the conference is the discussion in person with vast experiences/contacts. This particular networking opportunity goes a long way afterwards. Moreover, compliance with Trade Organization Ordinance. 2013 and useful knowledge about funded projects by Donors are my learning/takeaways from this particular session of 2014. Gratitude to CIPE Team once again and congratulations to All Secratery Generals for availing this important opportunity. Now it’s our turn to implement the learning in our Business Association to achieve the purposes of both, the Chamber/Association as well as of CIPE” - Secretary General, Gujrat Chamber of Commerce & Industry
The annual Secretary Generals’ conference is CIPE Pakistan’s flagship event, giving the CEOs of all Pakistan’s business associations an opportunity to come together to network and learn from each other’s experiences.
This year we had 47 nominations, and per our budget had to restrict ourselves to 25 participants. We worked out a viable budget plan and were able to accommodate 40 Secretary Generals, which shows importance of this initiative.
The participants included four women, representing women’s chambers as well as male-dominated business associations. This conference was the 6th such event for Secretary Generals. The Secretary Generals traveled from four provinces of Pakistan to attend this two-day event.
Since the revolution, CIPE partner IACE – the Institut arabe des chefs d’entreprises, or Arab Institute of Business Leaders – has reached out to citizens from all walks of life in Tunisia – young entrepreneurs, business leaders, students, policymakers and more – to debate and search for solutions to Tunisia’s persistent economic challenges. To involve even more people in the exchange of knowledge and ideas, IACE just launched a new newsletter to share updates on Tunisia’s economic progress and upcoming events.
Among other features, the newsletter includes a new op-ed, The Second Republic, or the Third Conflict Cycle? The piece makes the urgent and vital point that even with a new Constitution approved and focus on upcoming elections, it is the economy that still matters most.