Tag Archives: business associations

Supporting Small Business in Ukraine

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More than a year after the EuroMaidan protests took the world by surprise, Ukraine’s political and economic struggles continue. Developments in the country since the new government came to power highlight the ongoing challenges of systemic overhaul following an exciting, rapid transition. These challenges clearly illustrate the link between democratic development and economic reform, so central to CIPE’s work. Accomplishing the tasks facing Ukraine, from combating corruption, to reducing the barriers to doing business, to creating space for public-private dialogue, will be no easy feat.

The success of Ukraine’s economic and democratic development largely depends on ensuring the success of the country’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The entrepreneurial and flexible nature of SMEs makes them integral to achieving a number of the country’s goals: economic diversification; closer integration with Europe; building an adaptable economy; stimulating job growth; and boosting productivity.

Ukraine thus seeks to emulate the ways in which SMEs have helped make the U.S. economy among the world’s most successful. Boosting SMEs will require both giving the business community – and SMEs in particular – a seat at the policymaking table, and providing these firms with extensive support and training. CIPE’s partners are playing an important role in both of these processes.

CIPE’s primary focus in Ukraine has been to reduce policy barriers to business through cross-regional advocacy. Since opening the Kyiv office in 2010, CIPE has developed an extensive network of partner business associations and chambers of commerce across the country that work to represent and support Ukraine’s citizens through the work that they do.

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Building a Network of Change-Makers in South Asia

South Asia regional economic network members

In late January, CIPE held its sixth in a series of capacity building and networking workshops in Colombo for its South Asia regional network of women’s business associations, which includes organizations from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and India. When CIPE began to work with this group of women business leaders two years ago, the sessions focused primarily on issues such as board governance, strategic planning, staff and financial management, membership development, and services for members.

But between training modules, discussion often turned to the challenges facing women entrepreneurs in their countries, including policy barriers that tend to create a business environment unfriendly to women. Thus, CIPE always knew that eventually, the focus of the program must turn to advocacy for policy reform.

As a result, CIPE increasingly began to raise issues of policy – and policy advocacy – in the context of the training sessions. Then, last summer, CIPE awarded four women’s associations in three countries small grants by CIPE to carry out pilot, four-month advocacy projects.

One point that had frequently arisen in the training program was a lack of understanding of the complexities of policy advocacy, such as: identifying issues of concern to members; developing concrete policy proposals and specific recommendations to tackle those issues; the hard work involved in reaching out to policymakers; the need to broadly engage the media, association members, and the general public; and the need to track results and assess the impact of advocacy initiatives.

Moreover, the countries where the advocacy initiatives took place – Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal – are challenging environments. During the four months that these organizations were implementing their small grants, each country faced political turbulence that may have shaken the resolve of less dedicated change-makers.

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Developing the Association Executive Profession: The PCAAE Experience

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By Octavio B. Peralta, Founding Chairman, PCAAE

During the launch event of the Philippine Council for the Advancement of Association Executives (PCAAE) in Manila on November 20, 2013 which I presided, I asked the over 200 attending delegates by show of hands who among them use the title, “Association Executive” when filling up the space for profession in official forms and documents. Only one did!

The Association Executive (AE) profession in North America and Europe is widely-known and well-recognized but unfortunately not in many developing countries, including in Asia and the Pacific, with the exception of developed Australia and New Zealand. This also true in my country, the Philippines, where my organization, the Association of Development Financing in Asia and the Pacific (ADFIAP), is headquartered.

I have been an AE for over 23 years now (and counting) and did not have the benefit of a formal education on association management, which was non-existent in my country. I did learn somehow to cope by learning on the job and it helped that I joined the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE).

My own experience, and what I have witnessed in associations that have struggled to stay relevant and sustainable, have led me to found, with a few colleagues, the Philippine Council for the Advancement of Association Executives (PCAAE).

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Together Women Entrepreneurs Achieve More

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Last week I celebrated Thanksgiving in an unusual way. Instead of turkey and cranberry sauce – Italian pizza and pasta. Instead of family and relatives, over 30 new acquaintances who are impressive women business leaders from around the world. All this thanks to a generous invitation from the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (ITCILO) in Turin to a stock-taking conference “Employers’ Organizations and Women Entrepreneurs: How to Reach Out?”

The conference was the final event of a three-year ITCILO initiative conducted with the support from the Dutch Employers Cooperation Programme (DECP) to better connect employers’ organizations with women entrepreneurs, who tend to be underrepresented. This initiative set out to build capacity of employers’ organizations on how to organize and represent women entrepreneurs effectively, and to ensure that women entrepreneurs can benefit from being part of a collective business voice in terms of access and influence over policymaking and direct benefit from the services provided by business organizations to their members.

A series of regional workshops ensued in Eastern and Southern Africa, Asia-Pacific, West Africa, the Caribbean, and the Maghreb, culminating in the Turin event where representatives from the organizations who participated in these workshops came together to exchange lessons learned and produce guidance on best practices.

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Supporting Women Entrepreneurs in Bangladesh through Policy Advocacy

BWCCI founder Selima Ahmad received the Oslo Business for Peace Award earlier this year.

BWCCI founder Selima Ahmad received the Oslo Business for Peace Award earlier this year.

Watch CIPE’s Google Hangout on women’s entrepreneurship, which discusses BWCCI’s work.

While still a poor country, Bangladesh is an economic success story in terms of its economic outlook and expanded employment opportunities for women. In recent years, economic growth has averaged 6 percent annually and a vibrant, export-oriented garment sector has generated employment opportunities for urban women. Bangladesh has achieved food self-sufficiency and significantly reduced poverty, “putting the country on track to achieve most of the Millennium Development Goals.”

CIPE began working with the Bangladesh Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI) in 2006 with two objectives in mind. First, CIPE would provide training and technical assistance to the board and staff to ensure that the chamber focused on member needs and attained financial sustainability by growing its dues-paying membership. Second, CIPE encouraged BWCCI to shift from training individual entrepreneurs to pursuing policy advocacy to remove legislative and regulatory barriers to the equal participation of women in the economy.

BWCCI’s work expanding economic opportunities for women and promoting greater involvement of women in the policymaking process strengthens participatory democracy. Women comprise more than half the population and women-owned businesses generate employment and contribute to Bangladesh’s economic growth. Addressing the specific policy concerns of female entrepreneurs expands the inclusiveness of the democratic process and enhances female representation in the country’s economic and political institutions.

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Teach a (Wo)man How to Fish: The Changing World of International Development

Coalition members meet with political parties. (Photo: @sentellbarnes, IRI)

Members of CIPE-supported business coalitions in Nigeria meet with political parties. (Photo: @sentellbarnes, IRI)

By Laura Boyette and Teodora Mihaylova

It is only natural that the world of international development would itself develop and change over the years to adapt to the changing landscape of needs and local capacity.

At a panel discussion at Georgetown University entitled “The Changing World of International Development,” three development practitioners from leading organizations provided some insight into how their work has changed over the years. The speakers emphasized how local ownership has become central to the planning and implementation of their projects.

Traditionally, the development field was focused on delivery of goods and services, especially in regions suffering humanitarian crises due to natural disasters or conflict. Over the years as the importance of local ownership of development projects became evident, the development landscape shifted to focus more on the provision of supplies and money to local actors to deploy as they saw fit. Both approaches have limitations: a mismatch between resources available and local needs, limited local capacity, delays that significantly diminish chances of success, and often corrupt actors at various points of delivery.

These days, international development actors are focusing more on building local capacity and less on the delivery of goods and services. Building local capacity in service delivery, project management, governance, advocacy, and democratic institutions does not just meet the immediate needs of the community. It also increases the sustainability of development interventions beyond the life of a particular project. Increasing local capacity both ensures the success of the project and creates a multiplier effect as local organizations take over responsibility.

CIPE’s model is locally oriented and and locally driven. Building local capacity has been central to the CIPE strategy for 30 years. Whether it’s through our national business agenda process or through legislative outreach programs that help educate local members of parliament or assembly on the economic and democratic policies and their potential impact, CIPE’s international work focuses on empowering local partners to become agents of change in their communities.

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The Role of Business Associations in Democracy

Network members attending the meeting in Abidjan.

Members of a CIPE-supported business association network attend a meeting in Abidjan.

Business associations contribute immensely to economic growth, development, peace, and prosperity.  They play a key role in building inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystems and can bolster the ability of firms of all sizes to grow and create jobs.

Business associations are integral to the democratic process, as they represent the entrepreneurial interests of the middle class, thereby making them essential vehicles for popular participation in a democratic society.

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