Femina VIP awards ceremony
Each year the world celebrates March as a special month for honoring women. Different organizations hold seminars, conferences, and workshops about women’s role in the society, while media devotes a lot of attention to women issues.
But we at CIPE don’t think about women only in March. During the entire year we seek ways to improve women’s lives, their businesses, and their families’ livelihood. We work closely with women business associations, chambers of commerce for women, and other groups dedicated to building women’s leadership in public, community, and business life.
Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has a strong following in Ukraine. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/str1ker/123675588/)
With the election of President Viktor Yushchenko in 2004, many in the west marked the occasion as the decisive moment when Ukrainians stood up and made a choice to face westward and move forward with European integration. The five disastrous years of his presidency have reminded many that while elections can be turning points in history, if there are no institutions (or will by the leadership) to carry out reform, only turmoil, stagnation, or a combination of these two can ensue.
While the global economy had been happily buzzing along in recent years, Ukrainian politics was a messy but avoidable sideshow for many who did business in Ukraine.
Cynthia is senior in business administration at a university in the remote city of Juliaca in the Puno region of Peru. She is not the average student. On January 31, with only 20 years she decided to open her own business, a fruit juice store called DeliFru.
Last year Cynthia participated in new program called LiderAcción, an innovative course in leadership and entrepreneurship designed and conducted by CIPE and Instituto Invertir. Cynthia won one of the 15 scholarships awarded to a selective group of students from the Puno region and joined 200 other students from all over Peru.
Starting her own business had crossed Cynthia’s mind before. It wasn’t until she participated in LiderAcción that she decided to take her ideas a step further. After reading an article about juice stores, she identified a great opportunity for such a business in Juliaca. Apart from street vendors, there are no juice stores there. Cynthia developed her idea and made it a reality.
DeliFru operates in the first floor of her house. Thanks to a US$350 loan from the NGO Caritas, she was able to equip her business with all she needed in order to make it work.
“Since I read an article about juice stores, I was interested in this particular business. I wanted to have my own business and I realized that in Juliaca there is not one single Juice Store with a nice place that offers a large variety of juices in a hygienic environment. Apart from that, the natural culture and a light life style are growing faster and faster in Puno. Young people are now worried about calories and eating healthy, so I saw an opportunity and thanks to what I learned and lived in LiderAcción, I took it.”
Business and professional associations are often at the forefront of the modernization of industry, the development of professional standards and credentials, the creation of career opportunities, training and education, ethics reform, and sound leadership models. In order for business associations to fulfill this important role, they must implement the elements of good governance in their day-to-day operations through applying best practices and real world experiences.
In this Feature Service article, Michael S. Olson, principal of the Global Association Consulting, talks about good governance as an essential component of increasing the effectiveness of associations. Many organizations across the globe are being held hostage to dueling interests of boards and staffs, to elected leaders functioning in what should be staff roles and staff functioning in what should be governance roles. The more clearly understood the roles of staff and governance are, it becomes easier to represent the best interests of the members, donors, and supporters of the organization.
Olson concludes, “Understanding the differences in responsibilities and accountabilities is a first step in achieving a balance of leadership that reflects synergies of common vision and expectations for the organization.”
Article at a Glance
- Well-governed non-governmental organizations and associations contribute to a strong democracy.
- Good governance systems reflect transparency and trust, helping to build effective associations.
- Structure is important; unclear organizational roles lead to poor decision-making.
Young people form a vital component of every country’s productive workforce. In Rwanda, youth between the ages of 17 and 35 account for approximately 60 percent of the population. Therefore, the country’s success depends directly on the achievements of its young people who must act as leaders in society, education, and business. Still, the full potential of youth in Rwanda is yet to be realized.
In this Feature Service article, Umutoni Rosie, winner of the 3rd place in the ‘Entrepreneurship and Leadership’ category in CIPE’s 2007 International Youth Essay Competition, explores the ways in which Rwanda’s youth can play a more active role in their country’s development. Rwandan Government must address the shortcomings in infrastructure, human resources, and institutional capacity that prevent youth from assuming entrepreneurial and leadership positions in the society. In turn, young people must strive to improve their skills, work habits, and attitudes in order to become the agents of change their country needs.
Above all, young people should be given a chance to help formulate policy answers to the problems that Rwanda faces. Rosie explains, “Youth, as future leaders, can become agents of community improvement by becoming involved in identifying community needs and opportunities. (…) A new wealth of ideas and information generated by youth would then result in relevant and demand-driven policies, especially on entrepreneurship and leadership.” Only then can the damaging legacy of the 1994 violence be overcome and Rwanda can achieve its true potential.
Article at a Glance
- The future economic development of post-genocide Rwanda depends on its youth.
- Rwandan youth are hampered by a lack of skills and training, barriers to entrepreneurship, and the damaging legacy of the 1994 genocide.
- With educational reform, incentives for entrepreneurship, and youth involvement in policymaking, Rwanda can overcome horrors of the past and move forward.
Nigeria’s business environment remains laden with barriers preventing the youth from fully realizing their potential and assuming leadership positions in society. The major barriers include deficiencies in basic infrastructure necessary for faster development and greater productivity, such as roads, power supply, communication infrastructure, security, and access to capital. There are also many systemic barriers: low standard of education, ineffective government policies, inadequate training, and other economic, social, and political factors.
In this Feature Service article, Chinwe Mirian Onwubiko, winner of the second place in CIPE’s 2007 Youth Essay Contest in the ‘Entrepreneurship and Leadership’ category, explores the challenges that Nigerian youth face and talks about how Nigeria can make a better use of its abundant human and natural resources. Tapping these resources could help Nigeria achieve its business and investment potential, but it requires empowering the country’s youth.
“Entrepreneurship could become a major avenue for Nigeria to accelerate economic growth, create job opportunities, reduce the importation of manufactured goods, and decrease the trade deficit,” says Onwubiko. “Many young Nigerians aspire to be successful entrepreneurs, but their ability to make use of their skills remains highly constrained. (…) The failure of the government to provide a conducive entrepreneurial environment and to satisfy basic social needs exacerbates these problems. It is imperative, that policies are implemented to address these issues, with Nigerian youth at their core.”
Article at a Glance
- In spite of its abundant natural and human resources, Nigeria has long suffered from weak development.
- For Nigeria to prosper, young people must be given a chance to be leaders and entrepreneurs.
- The challenge is to create an environment where young entrepreneurs can lead the country’s development.
In the article “Don’t Turn Your Back on Reforms: Can Democratic Market Economies
Take Root in Latin America?” that was published by CIPE, I mentioned that one of the biggest challenges for Latin America is to make people feel that they are part of the system. This is the case in Peru where according to recent opinion polls, 86 percent of Peruvians between 18 and 27 are either unhappy or extremely unhappy with democracy, and 80 percent are not interested in issues related to democracy.
Since about 30 percent of the Peruvian population is between the ages of 15 and 24 years old, this presents a significant challenge for the future of democratic institutions in the country. Peru is generally viewed as a successful economic model with some of the highest growth rates in the region in recent years, but the wealth and opportunity in Peru are centralized in Lima, and negative attitudes towards democracy are much more prevalent in rural areas outside Lima that have been left out of the economic success.
In response to this lack of confidence in democracy and the free market economy and a negative image of the private sector and entrepreneurship among the youth, especially from low-income families located in the countryside, the LíderAcción program was designed by the Peruvian NGO Instituto Invertir, the Peruvian University of Applied Sciences (UPC), and CIPE. This education program opens a window of opportunity to foster private enterprise, democracy, and leadership development in Peru.
The first LíderAcción education program awarded 200 scholarships to university students from rural areas in Peru to attend three separate three-day education sessions in Lima on leadership, entrepreneurship, communication, market economy, business plan development, and civic engagement.