By Rami Shamma and Stephen Rosenlund
From the start of Lebanon’s celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week, the Development for People and Nature Association (DPNA), with the support of CIPE, has been actively advancing the tenets of entrepreneurship across various segments of Lebanese society.
DPNA and CIPE have been implementing an entrepreneurship education project in Lebanon since 2006 under the Entrance to Enterprise / Fostering Free Enterprise in Youth banners. Within the past two years, DPNA has worked closely with the Ministry of Education’s Center for Educational Research and Development (CERD) to make high-quality entrepreneurship education available to all high school students in Lebanon. Most recently, and in conjunction with GEW 2013, DPNA has worked with the ministry to roll out a national strategy for Life-Long Entrepreneurial Learning that will reach children and adults at all levels of education. This approach also supports and encourages civil society organizations, along with public and private sector institutions, to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit within Lebanese society.
Recently I attended a meeting of graduates from the CIPE sponsored EmprendeAhora program run by Instituto Invertir in Peru, who gathered to develop an alumni network that can continue to help them with their new businesses (we have featured blogs on this very successful program). Seeing these 60 youths work diligently toward establishing an ongoing network using their personal time and resources was inspiring enough, but probably the most impressive aspects of the event were some of the personal stories I heard. Margarita Calle has one of those stories to tell and I would like to share it with you here:
“My way of being and seeing the world completely changed between 2011 and 2012. I was studying economics at the National Central University of Peru in Huancayo, and my short-term goal at that time was to apply for a job in a private firm or in the public sector, and to find a ‘good’ job that would allow for my professional development while working to establish my career. This plan was based on working for someone and finding happiness in it, which is the path that society usually persuades us to take.
Until 2011, Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) was not a known term in Pakistan. In 2011, the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) initiated events engaging university students and teachers in debates during GEW. To provide wider outreach, these events were organized in cooperation with regional chambers of commerce.
This year CIPE also wrote to over 70 universities and 140 business associations around Pakistan and provided information about GEW and how they can be part of this global celebration of entrepreneurship. These efforts have resulted in more independently-held events in the country.
While speaking at a joint event organized by the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce, CIPE, and GEW in Islamabad, Country Representative for GEW Kahif M. Khan said that:
“Celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week in Pakistan is a new phenomenon. I appreciate the role of CIPE in starting GEW activities three years ago. This now is becoming a movement. Until last year, a lot of activities were donor funded. The good news is that this year a number of organizations celebrated GEW in Pakistan through their own resources.”
Last Thursday we held a Twitter chat for Global Entrepreneurship Week to discuss mentors, role models, and the entrepreneurship ecosystem. Read a summary of the chat below!
If you missed any of our coverage of entrepreneurship around the world last week, you can read all our GEW 2013 stories here.
Participants at a recent capacity building workshop for women’s chambers in South Asia.
At CIPE, we take a systemic and institutional approach to supporting entrepreneurship. Systemic in that unlike other organizations, rather than providing training or microloans to individual entrepreneurs, we seek to understand the policy barriers that often make it difficult to register firms, access credit, or conduct business. Institutional in that we support the efforts of civil society organizations – chambers of commerce and business associations – that seek to engage and advocate with policymakers to eliminate those barriers.
In the case of promoting women entrepreneurs, CIPE has focused in a wide range of countries on building the capacity and strengthening the governance of women’s chambers and association, thus making them more effective participants in that advocacy process.
Recently, a group of CIPE staffers took part in an informal email discussion that illuminates certain aspects of our approach to working with these organizations, which we wanted to share with readers of this blog. The conversation began when Julie Mancuso, Program Officer for Africa, wrote to several of her colleagues: “I am curious as to best models for women’s chambers and whether separate is usually better. Should women be engaged ideally through a strong local chamber, rather than starting their own, organized primarily around gender? Is this an area of debate or is there an agreed-upon model one way or the other?” Her specific question concerned her work with a coalition of women’s business associations that are weighing the relative merits of creating their own chamber or operating under the umbrella of the national chamber.
Malach Onditi started Elemach Scales, a small business that manufactures weighing scales, in Nairobi, Kenya twelve years ago with a startup capital of $120 and one employee. Today the company has an annual turnover of $52,000 dollars, has twelve employees, and sells the scales not only in Kenya but also in Uganda and Tanzania. To exist this long in an environment where over 90 percent of business start-ups do not survive to the third year has not been an easy undertaking. Elemach Scales has experienced several challenges along this journey including inaccessibility of affordable credit, barriers to regional trade and access to markets, and harassment by county government officials in regards to licensing and workspace
Elemach Scales typifies a majority of small businesses in Kenya — a sector which currently provides 78 percent of the country’s total employment, more than 90 percent of new jobs, and 18 percent of GDP. CIPE has worked with its partners over the last five years in efforts to build awareness for micro and small enterprise policy reform, facilitating extensive stakeholder input and building capacity for its advocacy which culminated in the signing into law of the MSE Act in December 2012.
Recently there has been a lot of discussion surrounding the gender gap, especially when it comes to economic participation. For everyone who is interested in human rights and understands that involving women in all aspects of government and business only improves dialogue and strengthens democracy, while at the same time rapidly improving the living standards of these women and their families, this fact is frustrating.
No one can deny that women are industrious, innovative, and enterprising, and that given the opportunity and resources, women can be very successful in business and in democratic and economic reform processes. We’ve moved beyond the debate of whether women “can” to the debate of “If they can, why aren’t they? What’s preventing them?”