Participants at a recent Accountapreneurship event in Nepal.
Narayan Adhikari is a CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellow at the Accountability Lab
Two words always come to my mind when talking about accountability: “power” and “holders.” In principle, power comes from the people (the constituency). In a representative democracy, people are the source of power and they hold it by choosing their delegates through elections.
More often than not, however, the officials who get a mandate from the people hold power against the interests of electorate. Consequently, the power dynamic changes alongside the changes in attitudes, behaviors, and interests of the power holders. The cycle then repeats itself. For example; the recent constituent assembly election in Nepal resulted from the failure of the first assembly to promulgate a constitution.
For many Nepalese, democracy is a tool used to subjugate human beings to operate within certain norms, guided by the rule of law and constitutions. It only gives a framework, not an inclusive picture to judge and regulate the behaviors and relationships between individuals as members of a larger society. Democracy without accountability does not achieve equality, but rather degrades morality, integrity, and ethics. Accountability is more than just transparency and anti-corruption. It gives strength to democracy to be a foundation in society and to inspire people to become responsible citizens.
Today, corruption continues to be the biggest challenge worldwide. Corruption distorts development, undermines trust between citizens and government, and produces structural violence. Corruption also carries huge costs. The European Union spends close to 120 million Euros every year fighting corruption. According to World Bank, corruption is one of the largest “industries” with a scale of $3 trillion every year.
Last month more than 1,000 people gathered for the 2014 Nepal Economic Summit,a historic event hat brought attention to the challenges and opportunities to Nepal’s economic development.
More than 30 international speakers participated in the event including government officials, key ministers, business leaders, and civil society representatives. USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah also attended the event and gave some closing remarks.
CIPE partner Samriddhi, the Prosperity Foundation was the knowledge partner of the event and has been working closely with the government and stakeholders in formulating the reform agendas over the last two years, preparing discussion papers on key issues such as agriculture, energy, and tourism, outlining major challenges and making recommendations. The papers build on Samriddhi’s Nepal Economic Growth Agenda, launched in 2012. Samriddhi’s economic research has become an important source of independent policy analysis in Nepal.
Last week in Colombo, Sri Lanka, CIPE held the fourth in its series of training and networking sessions for a group of women business leaders from across South Asia, helping bring about a range of positive steps – both for national understanding and increasing economic opportunity for traditionally marginalized women.
This network includes participants from major and emerging chambers of commerce and business associations in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan. CIPE also invited two additional participants for this session from Papua New Guinea, because these women are just starting the process of establishing the first ever Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry in that country and requested CIPE’s assistance.
The idea to bring together representatives from these countries — particularly given the tensions between India and Pakistan, and the history between Bangladesh and Pakistan — was not guaranteed to succeed. But after the first three meetings, the first last winter in Dhaka, the second last spring in Kathmandu, and the third last September in Lahore, it has become clear that these women business leaders have grown closer, have learned from one another, are sharing ideas and information, and are finding ways to strengthen their organizations based on best practices learned from one another.
The Colombo workshop was a productive, inspiring, and an exciting two days of learning and networking. Below are some words from the participants about their experience at CIPE’s workshop:
Posted in South Asia
Tagged Bangladesh, Bhutan, business association development, business associations, India, nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, women, women's associations
Nepal has been in the midst of an extended political transition for nearly half a decade. Following the 1996-2006 civil war, the monarchy was abolished and then in 2008, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (the Maoists) emerged as the largest political party in the country’s first-ever elections for parliament, called the Constituent Assembly (CA). The CA’s main task was to promulgate a new constitution for Nepal, but after repeated attempts, the body failed to deliver.
Posted in South Asia
Samriddhi Foundation, a Kathmandu based think tank, ran a crowdfunding campaign from April 30 to May 30, 2013, on Indiegogo to support a research and advocacy campaign that would conduct a study on Kirana Pasals – small mom and pop shops selling groceries and fast moving consumer goods, which are typical to Nepal and few other South Asian nations. Atlas Network agreed to match all donations dollar-for-dollar. Watch the video that Samriddhi created for this campaign here.
People who have lived in Nepal long enough have often noticed that these small enterprises, Kirana Pasals, rarely grow to become medium or large operations, like department stores or supermarkets. The study was designed to find out what prevented the growth of these independent businesses, which are run by entrepreneurial and hardworking people, and to conduct advocacy focused on recommendations formulated on the basis of this research.
By the end of May 30, 2013, the campaign had become successful and we were able to raise the target amount of $7,500 (matched with an additional $7,500 from Atlas Network). And during the month-long period, we learned a lot about this great tool that enabled us to take another step in promoting entrepreneurship and economic development in Nepal.
The great thing about a crowdfunding campaign is the easy interaction between the supporters and the organization which allows greater transparency for the supporters to see where their money is going and who will it benefit directly. The communication process is simple and flexible and promises more accountability. However, crowdfunding is not necessarily as easy as it seems. Some of the lessons we recall from the experience are:
Yesterday I wrote about how CIPE is helping women business leaders to break down barriers in South Asia – both barriers between countries and barriers that are keeping women out of the economic mainstream. CIPE’s third networking and training session for the heads of women’s chambers of commerce and business associations, held on September 18-20 in Lahore, Pakistan, was a resounding success, including a dinner at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce that drew the Governor of Punjab as a featured speaker.
But we also wanted to take some time to focus on the training program itself, and the results of the hard work that these women are putting in to building their organizations. There is no shortage of programs in South Asia to build links among women entrepreneurs – to encourage trade and business ties – but CIPE is focused on strengthening the capacity of the chambers and associations, both so they can better represent their members in the policy process, and help their members grow their own businesses.
The biggest changes can start with small steps – particularly in the effort to change cultural barriers and to ease decades-old national tensions. Often it is the private sector, seeking to open new markets, explore possibilities, and expand trade and commerce, that is at the forefront of such changes.
Last week in Lahore, Pakistan, CIPE organized the third in its series of training and networking sessions for a group of women’s business leaders from across South Asia, helping bring about a range of positive steps – both for national understanding and opportunity for traditionally marginalized women.
This network, which CIPE has been developing with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy, includes participants from major and emerging chambers of commerce and business associations from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan.
The idea to bring together representatives from these countries – particularly given the tensions between India and Pakistan, and the history between Bangladesh and Pakistan, was not guaranteed to succeed. But after two meetings, one last winter in Dhaka and then again in the spring in Kathmandu, it was becoming clear that these women business leaders were growing closer, learning from one another, sharing ideas and information, and finding ways to strengthen their organizations.