Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

Rebuilding Amidst Conflict, from Kosovo to Syria

Syrian Economic Forum students learning civic education in Syria.

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.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #30: Syrian Economic Forum on the Role of the Private Sector in Syria’s Reconstruction

SEF podcast Aug 18 2016

Syrian Economic Forum (SEF) Executive Director Tamman Al Baroudi (left) and SEF Chairman Ayman Tabbaa (right) with podcast co-host Stephen Rosenlund, Senior Program Officer for Middle East and North Africa at CIPE. Tabbaa, Baroudi and Rosenlund called in to the show (via Skype) from Gaziantep, Turkey.

Syrian Economic Forum Chairman Ayman Tabbaa and Executive Director Tamman Al Baroudi discuss the current situation in Syria and the role of the private sector in reconstructing the country. Tabbaa and Baroudi talk about their lives in Syria prior to the revolution, why they had to leave Syria, and their work today providing information and policy options to help with the current economic situation and to plan for the future.

Tabbaa and Baroudi speak candidly about how their lives have changed, dangers they have faced in pursuing their work to help build a future for Syria, and their concerns for Syria’s youth.

The Syrian Economic Forum is an independent think tank that gives voice to the pro-democracy Syrian business community.

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Inspiration from Syria this International Youth Day

Graduates of the Riyadeh course pose with their professors.

Graduates of the Riyadeh course pose with their professors.

The work of CIPE’s partner the Syrian Economic Forum (SEF) inspires on a daily basis. Formed by small business owners across Syria, this think tank is pushing the envelope every day when it comes to thought leadership in the midst of conflict. From creating space for wrecked Syrian factories to restart their operations and put people back to work, to identifying market opportunities for embattled olive oil producers, SEF works tirelessly to develop solutions that improve the livelihoods of the Syrian people.

It is worth pausing this International Youth Day to reflect especially on SEF’s CIPE-supported work to expand opportunity for the young Syrians affected by the conflict. A new Economic Reform Feature Service article describes our approach, which links entrepreneurship education with the development of crucial civic skills.

Nearly 1,400 young people have now graduated from this intensive program inside Syria and just across the border in Turkey. As you’ll discover, the graduates are putting their newfound skills to work by starting new ventures and building their communities. Our work with SEF will continue by seeking integration of the curriculum at institutional levels, expanding access to learning in-person and online, and fostering networking amongst alumni and linkages with follow-on opportunities.

Read the article here.

Stephen Rosenlund is a Senior Program Officer at the Center for International Private Enterprise.

Democracy that Delivers Podcast #27: Jerry Brito of Coin Center on the Blockchain and its Social Impact Applications

Podcast guest Jerry Brito (left) with guest host Maiko Nakagaki.

Podcast guest Jerry Brito (left) with guest host Maiko Nakagaki.

The “blockchain” is the key innovation that makes decentralized, digital currencies like Bitcoin possible. Jerry Brito, executive director and head of research at Coin Center and an expert on cryptocurrency regulation, discusses the implications of the blockchain and its potential applications to governance and corruption problems from tracking land ownership to stopping the trade in blood diamonds.

Coin Center is the leading organization focused on research and advocacy on blockchain and crypocurrency technologies like Bitcoin. Follow Coin Center and Jerry Brito on Twitter.

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Donbas Entrepreneurs Reopening and Expanding Businesses in Ukraine

donbas-2

By Anastasiya Baklan

The war in Ukraine has been especially difficult for small businesses in the conflict-affected regions, despite a ceasefire agreed to in February 2015. According to the data of the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, communities in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhia suffer from a severe economic crisis, which is especially stressful for small and medium business owners.

Analysis of business owners’ attitudes in the Donbas region shows that the stressful situation provokes a fear of investing in illiquid assets such as real estate and land. So entrepreneurs in the region are revising their business models, leasing assets where possible and limiting immobile capital investment.

With the goal of assisting SMEs affected most by the economic downturn, as well as those businesses displaced by the conflict, CIPE recently supported at-risk entrepreneurs in six towns (Berdyansk, Pershotravensk, Slavyansk, Lozova, Svatovo and Kreminna) through a business training and mentoring program for 119 people. The USAID-funded project was based on strategies that promote specific business sectors in each of the target communities, which business owners are now beginning to operationalize.

Given the dire economic situation in Donbas, CIPE was pleasantly surprised to encounter several social impact business models. For example, Oleksandr Gadenko from the village of Osypenko near Berdiansk, has a business concept that will extend the public water supply to the villagers who suffer from a complete lack of water.

The business would bring fresh running water to residents of 800 housing units, which currently have no access to water at all. The novel business financing model, involving a mixture of state investment, private funding, and donor support, will allow villagers to access running water while earning a modest rate of return for the business owner.

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Closing the Gender Gap in Political and Economic Participation

Photo: CIPE

Photo: CIPE

By Yini Wu

“In high school, boys and girls are equally interested in running for office in the future. But by college graduation, young women’s political ambitions drop dramatically.”

The voice of women and youth is considerably underrepresented in political leadership positions worldwide, and engaging young women in public service is “the first step” to deal with the gender gap in political ambitions. “We have to start with young women in universities, even in high schools,” said Michelle Bekkering, Senior Gender Advisor at IRI, “and help them to really understand the essence of politics.”

In a recent event on closing the gender gap in leadership, Bikkering discussed approaches to increasing the percentage of women holding public service positions and addressing the barriers that female candidates face with Sandra Pepera, Director for Gender, Women and Democracy at NDI, and Jessica Reis, Vice President of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.

CIPE also believes in the power of women and youth, and has been dedicated to empowering women and youth around the world through its international programs. CIPE’s youth programs empower talented young professionals worldwide as the political leaders of tomorrow by providing them opportunities and necessary tools to actually engage in the policymaking process.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #22: Babak Yektafar on the Economic Situation in Iran and What Drives Regime Policies

Podcast hosts Ken Jaques (right) and Julie Johnson with guest Babak Yektafar (left).

Podcast hosts Ken Jaques (right) and Julie Johnson with guest Babak Yektafar (left).

CIPE’s Iran expert Babak Yektafar discusses the current economic situation in Iran and how the regime controls information and policies to stay in power. Yektafar talks about how the economy has been damaged through mismanagement, Iran’s entrepreneurial youth culture and their hopes for the future, and what the government needs to do to make it easier for Iranians to start and grow businesses. He also discusses the government’s control over the flow of information within the country and explains how an “Expediency Council” works to ensure the regime stays in power.

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