Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

Donbas Entrepreneurs Reopening and Expanding Businesses in Ukraine

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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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CIPE Arabia: Expert Interview with Dr. Ahmed Fikry Abdel Wahab

Ahmed_Fikry_Abdel_WahabThis post originally appeared at CIPE-Arabia in Arabic.

In a brief interview with CIPE-Arabia, Dr. Ahmed Fikry Abdel Wahab shared some of his thoughts on the pervasive informal sector in Egypt.  His concerns center on the potentially negative consequences a large informal sector has on competitiveness, market values, and norms and quality of products.  Abdel Wahab explained that while one might not necessarily describe the competition between the formal and informal sector as dishonest, it could easily be described as unfair.

Unlike informal businesses, formal enterprises have higher costs, which are reflected in the pricing of their products.  In order to be able to compete, some enterprises compromise on the quality of their products thereby creating negative impacts on the industry and the overall market, as well as undermining consumer rights and the competiveness of the Egyptian products in the global market.  He acknowledged that informal businesses suffer from marginalization, lack of access to credit, and meager opportunities for training, advancement and business relations. Abdel Wahab also noted problems faced by informal enterprises in terms of limited market size, attributing this issue to the quality of their products, which are often not fit for export because they do not meet the minimal quality standards.  As a result, all these factors create unfair conditions with consequences for both sectors as they generate unhealthy competition, negatively impact the market, and undermine the foundations of industry and its values and norms.

Following is a summary of the main points raised by Abdel Wahab during the discussion.

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Ukrainian Business Community Comes Together to Develop Local Business Agendas

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By Bogdana Aleksandrova and Anastasiya Baklan

For the first time in Ukraine’s modern history regional business associations, in cooperation with Chambers of Commerce and Industry and think tanks, are developing and promoting local business agendas.

Historically Ukrainian business associations, chambers, and think tanks have not cooperated closely to form a single voice of business in advocacy efforts.  In view of this history, CIPE developed and delivered training programs to various business support organizations over the past several years, the latest of which occurred over the winter and spring.  The training, encouragement, and support from CIPE have helped to foster the development of coalitions of these organizations following the trainings in several regions around Ukraine (see CIPE’s Bogdana Aleksandrova speak about the advocacy campaigns – in Russian).

The most recent participants in CIPE’s training program will receive ongoing consultations from CIPE experts, including Sergiy Pancir, Head of the Center of Social Partnership and Lobbying under the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Denis Bazilevich, Director of the Institute of Professional Lobbying and Advocacy and Ruslan Kraplich, business trainer of the Ostrog Princes Foundation. Now these coalitions are taking the next step, applying their training, and are developing local business agendas.

CIPE recently announced that five regional coalitions, from Sumy, Mykolaev, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kirovohrad, and the city of Kyiv, each consisting of business support organizations and regional think tanks, would receiving small grants and ongoing technical support to develop regional business agendas.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #18: eBay’s Brian Bieron On How Global E-Commerce Platforms Enable SMEs Around the World to Export at an Unprecedented Rate

Podcast hosts Julie Johnson and Ken Jaques with guest Brian Bieron (right).

Podcast hosts Julie Johnson and Ken Jaques with guest Brian Bieron (right).

Executive Director of eBay’s Public Policy Lab, Brian Bieron (@ebaygr), discusses how global e-commerce platforms are helping small and medium-sized enterprises around the world to export at an unprecedented rate, and how this is opening the global economy like never before. Bieron also talks about how online commerce is changing the dynamic of who can export where, the logistics challenges that companies face, and the policy reforms that can help micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises harness the potential of e-commerce to reach new markets

Find out more about the Public Policy Lab’s work at their website.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #17: Atlas Corps Fellow Gigi Raffo on What Life is Like for Regular Citizens and Business Owners in Venezuela

Podcast host Julie Johnson (center) and guest host John Zemko with guest Gigi Raffo.

Atlas Corps fellow and social media manager at Venezuelan think tank CEDICE, Gigi Raffo (@GianninaRaffo), talks about the everyday hardships experienced by citizens in her country, the challenges facing the private sector, and how she and others are trying to make changes and build hope for the future. Raffo also talks about adjusting to the freedoms and choices offered in the U.S. and what she is learning here that will inform her work when she goes home.

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Listen to past episodes of our show here.

Like this podcast? Please review us on iTunes to help other listeners find the show!