Tag Archives: business associations

Together Women Entrepreneurs Achieve More

itcilo

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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The Business Case for Putting Ethics at the Heart of Corporate Culture

Participants at Ethisphere

Participants at Ethisphere’s 2014 Europe Ethics Summit.

In today’s global business environment, corruption poses a risk that companies with operations around the world must understand and manage effectively. Those that do reap the benefits. As the Ethisphere Institute points out, the business case is clear: the five year annualized performance of the World’s Most Ethical (WME) Companies Index was 21 percent, beating S&P 500’s 18 percent. Similarly, the ten year annualized performance of the WME Index is, at 11.4 percent, significantly higher than that of S&P 500 at 7.4 percent.

The key to success in ethical business is placing ethics at the center of corporate culture and building strong compliance programs that can mitigate corruption risks. That was the overarching theme of the recent 2014 Europe Ethics Summit: Leadership through Ethics and Governance, hosted in London by the Ethisphere Institute and Thomson Reuters. The Summit was Ethisphere’s first such event in Europe and gathered nearly 150 compliance experts, professionals, and stakeholders.

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Case Studies: Advancing Anti-Corruption Efforts in Armenia and Thailand

Yerevan-sunset

Corruption is a systemic problem that plagues many transitional countries across the world, rooted in weak rule of law and lack of private property rights. Not only does corruption erode trust in public institutions, such practices also hinder economic growth and weaken democratic governance.

The corruption challenge can be addressed by building responsive institutions that offer basic assurances of private property rights and ensure law and order. CIPE programs address the root causes of corruption through a multi-pronged approach. CIPE programs mobilize the private sector to raise anti-corruption standards and advocate for reforms; streamline regulations and reduce implementation gaps to limit opportunities for corruption; improve corporate governance to strengthen firm-level integrity; facilitate collective action to level the playing field and coordinate company efforts; and equip small and medium-sized enterprises to resist bribery and meet the requirements of global value chains.

Two recent case studies, described below, show these CIPE approaches in action.

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Nigeria Elections 2015: Building the Private Sector Voice through Coalitions

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

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

Nigeria’s upcoming elections have been attracting a lot of international attention because of the country’s population, economy, and political status, which are among the highest on the continent. Over the course of a few weeks in early 2015, Nigerians will elect state and national level leaders, including governors and the president.

While Nigerian civil society and the private sector have had difficulty in the past moving national political dialogue towards substance and policy, recent success has been seen at the state level. It is hoped that success will continue in the rhetoric surrounding the state elections, so much so that there can be spill-over into the national dialogue.

Over the past few years, the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) has partnered with coalitions of business and professional associations in seven states across the North Central Zone and Enugu State. The partnerships have been centered on building the advocacy capacity of the various coalitions. Because Nigeria is has a federated system, civil society can attempt to effect change at the state level when it would prove too costly, inefficient, bureaucratic, or in a few cases too corrupt, at the national level.

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