Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

Insights for Global Entrepreneurship Week: The Connection Between Entrepreneurship and Democracy

A restaurant owner makes gözleme, a traditional Turkish pastry, in her small storefront in the Beşiktaş neighborhood of Istanbul. She opened her business four years ago, where she now works with two employees.

When business owners are given the freedom to innovate and support to get started, they launch companies that create jobs, provide needed goods or services, and fuel economies. In CIPE’s latest feature service article, Director of Knowledge Management Kim Eric Bettcher examines the connection between entrepreneurship and democracy— the cornerstones of a free society.

Global Entrepreneurship Week, which is observed in 160 countries, provides an opportunity for CIPE and others to spotlight key issues facing entrepreneurs and their communities, as well as a platform to share information about ground-breaking programs and successful strategies or approaches. CIPE is developing a new series of “Partner Portraits,” podcasts, reports, and blogs designed to provide additional insight and recognize individuals, organizations, and partners working on a multitude of global projects to strengthen democracy around the globe through private enterprise and market-oriented reform.

Economic empowerment for women continues to be a top concern worldwide. One inspirational leader and CIPE partner is Rezani Aziz, who recently founded the Federation of Women Entrepreneur Associations of Sri Lanka (FWEASL). Nearly 40 percent of women there are unemployed. Aziz describes some of the biggest hurdles facing women attempting to enter the Sri Lankan workforce and how her organization and others in the region hope to foster change on a new Democracy that Delivers podcast.

Meanwhile, the Women’s Business Resource Center in Papua New Guinea is celebrating its one-year anniversary. The Center is a U.S. State Department-funded initiative that is led by CIPE. In a country where women have few legal rights, the Center helps women of all backgrounds access business services, training, and support—free of charge and in a safe environment with round-the-clock security. Read CIPE Program Officer Sarah Yun’s blog for real-life stories about women who have benefited from the Center’s support.

Job creation efforts and new business growth present major challenges and opportunities in many societies. Consortium partners in Turkey just launched Livelihoods Innovation through Food Entrepreneurship (LIFE), one of CIPE’s newest projects. The program is intended to support sustainable livelihoods for Syrians and other refugees, as well as members of the host country. LIFE partners will establish two food business incubators in Istanbul and Gaziantep. In all, the project will support more than 200 entrepreneurs and over 1,000 workers in the food industry. Listen to Hans-Joachim Hogrefe with Refugees International discusses how the LIFE project will benefit the Turkish economy. Gastrodiplomacy expert Dr. Johanna Mendelson-Forman explains how food builds a sense of community and offers an opportunity for cultural exchange.

Anti-corruption and trade issues are top priorities in many nations. A new CIPE program in Colombia plays an important role in supporting the country’s ongoing peace process. With assistance from CIPE and others, Colombia’s government is offering incentives to businesses that expand operations in regions ravaged by years of violence.  The groups are reaching out to local communities for input on economic development. CIPE’s lead in-country consultant Jaime Arteaga explains how the efforts will pave the way for positive change and investment opportunities. Another result will be proposals to improve transparency and effectiveness, shares Víctor Saavedra, economist and a researcher with the think tank Fedesarrollo.

Youth entrepreneurship and mentoring is another priority. The Xelajú Naranja program in Guatemala in early 2017 is intended to help young men and women learn to be effective entrepreneurs, particularly in the cultural and IT sectors. Participants have received training in basic business principles and ways to get their creative enterprises off the ground.

In Africa, CIPE has partnered with Gambia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry to establish a national business council for the private sector, as the country attempts to embrace democracy following two decades of dictatorship. Jeff Smith, Executive Director of the non-profit Vanguard Africa discusses current challenges, which include accountability issues.

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.

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

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The Local Private Sector is Vital to Peacebuilding and Reconstruction

Two women now earn a living producing yams in their field after peace returned to Burundi. Photo by Pamela Beecroft.

By Morgan Frost and Pamela Beecroft

CIPE works with partners in a number of conflict-affected contexts around the world. While political, security and humanitarian issues typically draw the most attention, CIPE has found there are major benefits to working with the local private sector on economic issues at almost every stage of a conflict and recovery cycle. As the examples below illustrate, local businessmen and women can play a unique and indispensable role in reducing violence, building peace, and rebuilding countries and communities.

In Mexico, the notorious Tijuana Cartel, which had gathered strength during the 1990s, dominated large swaths of the city, turning it into a battlefield that endangered citizens and deterred businesses. In 2006 and 2007, local businesses, civil society, and government leaders worked together to develop solutions to effectively reclaim the community from criminal networks. For a time, their efforts succeeded in significantly reducing violence and improving the city’s economic life. In 2015, CIPE led a project that helped Tijuana tell its story, which showed how private sector leadership and collaboration with government and civil society can address high levels of criminal violence. Since then, violence has sky-rocketed again in the city for a number of reasons. CIPE will help Tijuana business leaders and their allies seek to repeat their past success and improve life for citizens and businesses again while refining the earlier model and collecting new evidence about what works.

Even in fragile environments like the Democratic Republic of Congo, economic activity continues, creating an opportunity for a peaceful and sustainable future. Photo by Pamela Beecroft.

In Syria, CIPE helped a group of Syrian business leaders build an economic think tank, now based in southern Turkey, called the Syrian Economic Forum (SEF). The organization is a leading source of information and analysis about the economic situation in Syria, as well as an originator of market-oriented solutions, which humanitarian agencies, local councils, and other stakeholders can use to respond to the situation on the ground. SEF has also expanded opportunities for displaced Syrian businesspeople in Turkey by negotiating access to an underutilized free economic zone and facilitating the transition of Syrian-owned businesses into the formal economy. Other initiatives encourage entrepreneurship, including a new CIPE-led project to incubate food-based enterprises and provide workforce training in the food sector.

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A Call for Democratic Re-engagement

Protest in Warsaw, Poland. Photo by Lukasz Kaminski.

Every year on September 15, the United Nations’ International Day of Democracy offers an opportunity to reflect on the state of democracy and the challenges facing it. This year’s theme spotlights the need to strengthen democratic institutions against a backdrop of increasing disparities of economic opportunity.

In Central and Eastern Europe, those disparities have become more prominent in recent years, heightening the need to re-examine assumptions about the region’s transitions. Although the region made great strides in building democratic institutions and growing market economies over the course of two decades, the quality of—and support for—democracy has started to decline. Corruption has become a way of life in Hungary, where the government doles out public money based on political loyalty and friendships. In Poland, the government has exerted undue influence over the judiciary system, depriving citizens of their fundamental democratic freedoms.

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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.

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

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Women Entrepreneurs in South Asia are Critical to the Region’s Economic Growth

Women work at a chili flake production facility owned by a Nepalese woman who used to carry stones to help send her brothers to school. Her business exports chili flakes to the United Kingdom.

By Jennifer Anderson and Maria Philip

Healthy, vibrant democracies must deliver for all of their citizens. Women’s full economic participation, control over their financial circumstances, and greater decision-making power are essential to building gender-equitable political and economic systems. Moreover, it has been shown that women’s economic empowerment can have a positive multiplier effect, leading to political and economic gains that benefit society as a whole. Yet research also shows that it is insufficient to focus solely on income-generating projects for women. Rather, to empower women as equal stakeholders, it is necessary to build a gender-inclusive business-enabling environment that allows women to start and grow their own businesses.

In the evolving democracies of South Asia, the majority of women are blocked from full economic and civil participation by a range of formal and informal obstacles, including laws and regulations, and cultural and societal norms. Women in the region continue to trail their peers in other parts of the world. Indicators for women’s employment, income, and wealth in South Asia are particularly dismal, and the region is the slowest in the world to equalize laws affecting women’s employment and entrepreneurship. From 2014 to 2016, the region enacted just three reforms to increase women’s economic opportunities—the fewest reforms out of 65 economies.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #73: Majdi Hassen on Economic Reform Initiatives in Tunisia

Podcast guest Majdi Hassen and guest host Anna Kompanek

On this week’s Democracy the Delivers podcast, Institut arabe des chefs d’entreprises (IACE) Executive Director Majdi Hassen talks with CIPE’s Anna Kompanek about the economic reform initiatives his organization is undertaking in Tunisia. IACE is an independent, non-profit think tank based in Tunis. Since Tunisia’s revolution, Hassen has overseen IACE’s growth into a “think-and-do” tank that plays a vital role in convening diverse political and civic actors to discuss urgent economic problems.

Hassen has developed a series of IACE programs designed to bring leadership skills and civic awareness to young entrepreneurs, policymakers, and stakeholders in Tunisia. He has been instrumental in organizing IACE’s Enterprise Days, Tunisia’s biggest economic forum, which gathers over 1,000 national and international policymakers, business leaders, and experts to discuss critical private sector issues.

Kompanek and Hassen discuss a public-private dialogue effort – the National Business Agenda – that has brought together voices in the business community to provide the government with constructive recommendations for economic reform. They also discuss a hotline that has been set up in Tunisia to help local businesses deal with red tape and bureaucratic hurdles.

Learn more about IACE’s work: http://www.iace.tn/

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

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on your Android device.

Like this podcast? Please review us on iTunes.