Syrian Economic Forum students learning civic education in Syria.
The Syrian Economic Forum (SEF), an innovative think tank dedicated to strengthening the Syrian economy and promoting democratic and sustainable development is faced with an extraordinary challenge ahead. With nearly 5 million Syrian refugees and 6.6 million internally displaced persons, SEF must operate in an increasingly uncertain and volatile landscape, amidst a war that has ravaged the country and impaired both political and economic institutions. To rebuild Syrian society and empower a new generation that has suffered the consequences of war, SEF (based out of Gazientep, Turkey) has embarked on a campaign to create a new educational model focused on entrepreneurship, leadership, and civic engagement. This new model involves training and equipping youth with the knowledge and skills to be productive citizens and to re-imagine what it means to be a Syrian citizen. SEF has succeeded in becoming a leading voice for the Syrian private sector, even though managing a think tank amidst widespread conflict is a difficult task.
The much-analyzed nuclear deal with Iran to lift international sanctions is, if approved, expected to have a substantial impact on the Iranian economy by enabling the country to increase its oil and gas exports and by creating new possibilities for foreign direct investment (FDI). Many observers hope that the deal will allow for increased interaction with multinational companies and could help build more constructive relations between Iran and the international community.
However, one aspect of the story has not been widely covered: how the nuclear deal could have a massive economic and social impact on the region at large, including Central Asia and South Caucasus. One country which could make considerable gains from the nuclear deal is Armenia, which shares a border with Iran.
The Electric Yerevan protests began on June 19, when protesters gathered on the street to express their discontent with the local power company, the Electric Networks of Armenia (ENA) and its planned 14 percent increase in electricity tariffs from August, the third price raise within the past two years, which would result in a more than 60 percent overall increase in electricity tariffs.
Public discontent was further aggravated by a report revealing evidence of gross corruption and mismanagement at the utility. The report exposed the extravagant lifestyle of the ENA management and revealed that the ENA has accumulated debt by overpaying suppliers and contractors.
On June 23, four days after the start of the protests, roughly 2,000 protesters gathered on Baghramyan Avenue to express their grievances with the ENA management. They were blocked by police forces, and in response the protesters sat down and spent the night there. They were forcibly dispersed by police water cannons and around 250 people were detained.
As one of the four core institutes of the NED, CIPE was invited to organize a panel at the conference, and selected the issue of the links among women’s economic empowerment, women’s entrepreneurship, and democracy. CIPE invited five key members of its network of South Asian women’s chambers and associations to share their views as the panelists, with CIPE’s Regional Director for Eurasia and South Asia, Marc Schleifer, moderating.
Their conversation explored the ways in which CIPE’s work at the intersection of economic development and democracy ties into women’s issues in a challenging region. This post will be the first of six reflecting on CIPE’s panel at the conference, and is intended to spur a deeper conversation of these issues. Each entry in this series will build on the stories of the key members of CIPE’s South Asian network, illuminated by the questions that Schleifer posed during the panel to these South Asian leaders, as follows:
In what ways do private enterprise and entrepreneurship help spark economic empowerment for women and lead to improved political participation among women?
What are some motivating factors that encourage women to move beyond growing their businesses to start civil society organizations, in order to give back to other women?
Why is it important to focus on scaling women-owned businesses, and in what ways is access to finance and policy change a part of that scaling process?
How do these women’s business organizations approach the issue of policy advocacy? What kinds of policy challenges do women in business in your countries face? And how are your organizations working to tackle those issues?
Posted on6 April, 2015byGuest|Comments Off on Public Procurement: The Nexus of Public and Corporate Governance in Combating Corruption
Governments around the world spend trillions on public procurement each year for everything from office supplies to military equipment to infrastructure megaprojects like this $5 billion Panama Canal expansion.
By Kirby Bryan
For over a decade, the World Bank Group’s Doing Business index has served as quintessential tool for determining how well a country’s institutional infrastructure is suited to the promotion of a productive business environment. But something was missing. Businesses and governments interact on levels beyond permitting and regulation: the public sector can also be a client.
Public procurement can provide opportunities for corruption. When seeking lucrative public contracts, companies look for any opportunity they can take advantage of that will improve their ability to secure a successful bid. Unscrupulous government officials can use their influential positions to attain favors and gifts from businesses pursuing public procurement tenders.
In March 2015, the World Bank Group, in conjunction with the George Washington University Law School, held a release event for the first installment of its Benchmarking Public Procurement Index.
Besides experiencing three destructive wars in less than ten years – Operation Cast Lead, Operation Pillar of Defense, and Operation Protective Edge – the Gaza Strip has suffered since 2007 from two unprecedented major political events that affect both the lives and future aspirations of the Palestinians: the Israeli blockade and internal division.
The Gaza Strip, now in its seventh year under Israeli blockade, remains isolated from the outside world. The blockade affects many fields including education, business, the environment, technology, and culture. What is more, there is the internal Palestinian division which has further exacerbated the situation. The political and social division among the two largest Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, has led to declines in many areas.
The CIPE Development Blog provides coverage of the Center for International Private Enterprise and its partner network at work -- highlighting successes, drawing out lessons from failure, and exploring the broader issues of political and economic development. For more information visit CIPE.org.