Tag Archives: chambers of commerce

Democracy that Delivers #94: Manizha Wafeq on Trailblazing the Creation of Afghanistan’s First Women’s Chamber of Commerce

From left: podcast guest Manizha Wafeq, guest host Jennifer Anderson and host Ken Jaques

Manizha Wafeq, a founder of the Afghanistan Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AWCCI), discusses the groundbreaking formation of the country’s first women’s chamber of commerce.

In 2014, a group of Afghan businesswomen, known as the Leading Entrepreneurs for Afghanistan’s Development (LEAD), arranged to meet with the country’s first lady and High Economic Council. The businesswomen appealed to the country’s powerbrokers to allow them to formally change their group’s name to the Afghanistan Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and they asked to be recognized as the country’s first official women’s chamber of commerce.

Three years later, on March 12, 2017, the group received official permission to changed its name and register with the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries. In this week’s podcast, Wafeq describes the arduous process and the significance of the milestone name change.

Despite working in the formal sector and creating jobs for the country, Wafeq explains that AWCCI is still needed because of the onerous hurdles Afghan businesswomen face. These obstacles include social and cultural barriers and limited access to markets and finance.

For more information on their accomplishments and news, visit AWCCI’s website. Watch our latest video learn more about CIPE’s partnership with other women’s chambers in South Asia.

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Democracy that Delivers #93: Rezani Aziz on Women Entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka

From left: podcast guest Rezani Aziz, with hosts Pamela Kelley Lauder and Ken Jaques

In 1988, Rezani Aziz joined the Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Sri Lanka to network with other business women. Almost three decades later, she’s now the founder of the Federation of Women Entrepreneur Associations in Sri Lanka (FWEASL) and CEO of Adfactors PR. In this week’s podcast, Aziz shares the changes she’s witnessed and helped foster for women entrepreneurs from 1988 to today.

Aziz founded FWEASL to give women a voice and provide them with the know-how to become entrepreneurs. She says some of the biggest hurdles involve access to finance and job opportunities. Approximately 37 percent of Sri Lankan women are unemployed. FWEASL is developing programs to help women gain confidence to enter the workforce and the business world. Projects include training on how to request bank loans and advocacy for changes in labor laws. Aziz attributes much of the organization’s success to its partnership with CIPE and sister organizations in the region.

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Women’s Business Resource Center Helps Women Entrepreneurs in Papua New Guinea Succeed Against the Odds

Children and women make up the majority of market life in Gerehu, Papua New Guinea. Photo by Ness Kerton for AusAID.

Women in Papua New Guinea face distressing obstacles to achieving leadership roles in business, politics, their communities, and their families. Two-thirds of women there are victims of domestic violence, according to reports. Women and girls are frequently treated like property, and it is not uncommon for them to be bought and sold. Men are twice as likely as women to hold a formal job. It is also very difficult for women to access credit, receive bank loans, and even open a bank account.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and others have identified a potential solution this problem: women’s economic empowerment. Research shows that when women have greater economic opportunities and better access to financial resources, they face less risk of becoming victims of domestic violence. If women are able to engage in commerce and earn their own paychecks, they will no longer be financially dependent on their partners. Boosting women’s economic opportunities and gender equality leads to gross domestic product growth, increased income per capita, and greater competitiveness for countries, according to the World Bank.

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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.

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Democracy That Delivers Podcast #64: Floreta Faber on How Leading a Business Association is Good Preparation for Being an Ambassador

From left: podcast guest Ambassador Faber; and hosts Natalia Otel Belan and Julie Johnson

On this week’s Democracy that Delivers podcast, Ambassador of the Republic of Albania, Floreta Faber, discusses her previous role as head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Albania and how she built the institution into one of the strongest associations in the country. She talks about establishing forums for public-private dialogue to present governments with business community perspectives. She also discusses the importance of focusing on collective issues rather than individual company needs. She offers advice to new associations establishing themselves in developing countries, including the importance of representing members equally and fairly, which, she says, is not always easy to do.

Ambassador Faber also discusses how leading a business association prepared her for being an Ambassador. Many issues she focused on at the Chamber of Commerce, including working for a better business environment, for economic growth, for more government accountability and transparency, fighting corruption, and improving economic ties between Albania and the U.S., she continues to work on in her current position. Finally, she talks about meeting President Trump, the huge responsibility she feels representing her country, and what she most admires about the United States.

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

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Democracy That Delivers Podcast #59: Selima Ahmad on How Women’s Economic Empowerment Leads to Democratic Participation

Podcast Guest Selima Ahmed

Founder and President of the Bangladesh Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI) Selima Ahmad returns to the Democracy that Delivers podcast to talk about helping women move beyond micro-enterprise to larger businesses. She also discusses how when women become economically empowered they become more engaged in policy making and seeking accountability in governance. Ahmad also explains the societal changes in her country that are making it easier for women to succeed in business.

Ahmad was the podcast’s most popular guest of 2016 and she returns to the show after a very successful year for her organization, culminating in winning the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s Local Chamber Award for 2016, beating 27 other countries. Ahmad discusses why this award was especially important to her, and the work she is doing taking the best practices she has developed with her Chamber and sharing them with chambers in countries as far and wide as Papua New Guinea, Somalia, and Bhutan. She also talks about how business interests cross borders and sectarian divides, and how the private sector can transcend political constraints to work together to move issues forward.

Follow Selima Ahmad on Twitter @selimaahmad.

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Trail Blazing in Sri Lanka: the Sri Lanka Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce

Women represent 51.58 percent of the population of Sri Lanka, according to official data published by the Department of Census and Statistics in 2016. However, their participation in the economy remains low. Women make up only 36.5 percent of the 8. 3 million economically active population of the country, aged 15 years and over. Out of the economically inactive population, more than three quarters (75.4 percent) are women. Data compiled by the Department of Census and Statistics for the 3rd quarter of 2016 also shows a higher rate of male participation in the labor force as compared to women, in all age groups and all levels of education. For instance, the highest participation in the workforce for women was reported in the age group 45-49 years (54.1 percent) whereas in the case of men the highest participation rate was in the age group 35-39 (98.1 percent). When looking at these numbers, one wonders how women in Sri Lanka can be empowered to have the same economic opportunities as men do.

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