One of the exciting initiatives I’m leading here at CIPE is to support our partners become better equipped with low-cost online or mobile tools that could improve their operations or programs. Our network of partners do tremendous work – whether that’s developing business and leadership skills in young Peruvians from across the country or igniting debates on economic policies in Nepal – often in challenging environments with limited budgets.
Their work would be even more powerful if they had knowledge on latest technology tools that could make their work more efficient – and that’s where my initiative comes in. We assess the technological environment in which our partners operate, and try to understand in what areas they are looking to enhance their capacity. Based on this information, CIPE worked with our technical expertise partner, Panoply Digital, to support the growth of our partners by equipping them with useful technologies that would make their work more productive.
To this end, CIPE and Panoply Digital led a workshop in Lagos back in February. We trained the Association of Nigerian Women Business Network (ANWBN), a collation of women’s business and professional associations in Nigeria. ANWBN is in midst of preparing to develop a national business agenda, a set of policy reform recommendations to address the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, and they reached out to CIPE to learn tech tools that could add value during this process.
In this month’s Feature Service article, I explain the main takeaways from CIPE’s experience working with ANWBN to improve the coalition members’ ability to lead technology-enabled advocacy efforts for women entrepreneurs in Nigeria. This included:
- ANWBN operates in a very challenging and frustrating technological environment, including low bandwidth, limited access to connectivity, and frequent power outages
- All ANWBN members used mobile services and used tem as part of their business communication
- Because advocacy is the main upcoming activity for ANWBN, the strategies focused on teaching ANWBN members with applicable tools that would feed into its national business agenda process, including data collection, research, and communications
To learn more about the specific tools that were taught, as well as the adoption rate of the tools that were introduced, read the latest Economic Reform Feature Service article.
Maiko Nakagaki is a Program Officer for Global Programs at CIPE.
Podcast hosts Ken Jaques and Julie Johnson with guest Toki Mabogunje (right)
Business development consultant Toki Mabogunje (Twitter: @tmc_nig) talks about the current business climate in Nigeria, how the new government is tackling economic, security, and corruption challenges – and the private sector response – and how Nigerian entrepreneurs find ways to thrive in even the most difficult circumstances. Mabogunje also talks about how her American school education still shapes the way she approaches issues today. Visit her website.
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Photo: U.S. Department of State
This post originally appeared on CIPE’s Corporate Compliance Trends blog.
Despite the thick Lagos air and long journey 60 women entered the The Moorhouse hotel on a recent Saturday morning, exchanging excited greetings and fresh ideas. Women business leaders adorned in brightly colored fabric and empowered with strong ambitions went around the room introducing themselves and their businesses.
It was the inaugural meeting of the Lagos chapter of the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP), launched by the U.S. Department of State in July 2010 to assist women entrepreneurs across sub-Saharan Africa. The program supports African women entrepreneurs to promote business growth, increase trade both regionally and to U.S. markets, create better business environments, and empower African women entrepreneurs to become voices of change in their communities.
Although AWEP in Nigeria initially started as a group of women’s businesses in agriculture, the members now represent a variety of sectors including fashion, textiles, professional services, cosmetics, and home decor. Since AWEP’s inception, chapters such as the Lagos chapter have started all over Africa bringing together 1,600 women entrepreneurs and 33 business associations across the continent creating over 17,000 jobs.
Pat Agbakwu-Ajegwu in front of her store.
“As a business owner, you either choose to survive or die. And surviving in this state of economic crisis in Nigeria requires creative thinking.”
On my recent trip to Lagos, Nigeria, I spoke with Patricia (Pat) Agbakwu -Ajegwu, the owner of Xklusive Patsie and the former president of the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria. She shared with me some challenges that women entrepreneurs in Nigeria are facing in midst of economic turmoil.
Since the peak in 2014, the global price of oil has decreased by over 70 percent. As a result, petrostates like Nigeria, which relies on oil sales for 75 percent of government revenue and 95 percent of its export earnings, are hurting. This is especially felt by small business owners in Nigeria.
By Lauren Dawes, Panoply Digital
This blog post was originally published by Panoply Digital, who are helping CIPE partners around the world improve their digital capabilities.
In a previous blog, Michael wrote about the work we have been doing with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) for almost a year now – developing a training programme to teach partners of CIPE’s network how to better communicate and carry out their advocacy efforts via the use of technology. The programme is the brainchild of Maiko Nakagaki, Programme Officer (Global) at CIPE who identified a need and opportunity to bolster their partner’s capacity to better serve their members through the integration of technology. The initial phase of our project consisted of surveys and in-depth interviews to assist us in identifying several high-need countries to conduct the training workshops. The first of those, Nigeria, took place on February 15-16 where I was hosted by the Association of Nigerian Women Business Network (ANWBN) to deliver four modules: Research, Polling and Tracking, Communication, and Online Presence.
Many of the ANWBN coalition was represented across the two days including International Women Society of Nigeria (IWSN), Women’s Consortium of Nigeria (WOCON), and NACCIMA Women Wing (NAWOG). The training consisted of live demos and hands on activities which was great fun given the how keen the group was to learn. Of course there were the obvious concerns when preparing to deliver the training – limited bandwidth and power outages being the main ones – but the internet held strong and the outages kindly timed themselves with our scheduled breaks! One of the key outcomes was to ensure that there would be uptake of some of the tools that we trained the attendees on. For that to be a viable option, they needed to be free or low-cost, require minimal bandwidth, be accessible across multiple devices and easy to implement and use. With that in mind, we opted to use a couple of Google tools: Alerts and Forms; BulkSMS and SMS Poll to cover communication and capturing data on basic devices; and Feedly.
By Otito Greg-Obi
On May 20th, 2015 the lights went out in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer. Nigeria suffers from a phenomenon known as the curse of oil which is a subset of a larger issue known as the resource curse. The idea behind the curse of oil is that countries with large oil reserves cannot seem to manage revenues in a way that benefits the majority of the population economically and socially. Some of the symptoms of the curse of oil include lack of economic diversification, revenue volatility, inability to provide public goods and services, corruption, government inefficiency and the Dutch Disease.
As soon as the massive fuel shortage in Nigeria struck, numerous businesses and banks shut down. Power outages also affected common households because neighborhoods are typically powered by individually owned generators due to inconsistent provision of public utilities. As soon as licensed gas stations closed down, black market vendors looking to make a quick Naira (Nigeria’s currency) began selling low quality oil at exorbitant prices. The shortage exemplifies the curse of oil by revealing an inability to provide a crucial public good. Furthermore, the shortage unveils the existence of corruption in black market practices.
Oil importers shut down operations claiming that the government owed them $2 billion. Nigeria’s Minister of Finance Okonjo-Iweala countered that importers misrepresented the debt in an attempt to recover lost revenue from the recent decrease in value of the Naira due to global declining oil prices. The global decrease of oil prices is a perfect example of the volatility that comes with the curse of oil and how it can complicate economic transactions between the governments and oil corporations.
Fortunately, oil suppliers and distributors eventually met with the government for negotiations that put an end to the crisis. The specifics of the negotiations have not been revealed but it appears that the crisis has been averted for now. But as global oil prices continue to decline, economic shocks are imminent. What will the government do to thwart the curse of oil?
By Kirby Bryan
For sustainable economic growth, developing countries must have the capacity to functionally interact with the global market. Much of the onus for building that capacity rests on a domestic commitment to reforms compatible with global trade. Many emerging markets have lofty aspirations that are unachievable given the current state of affairs, but are determined to rectify the situation. Access to foreign markets can cement reform efforts aimed at improving the local economy and sustaining economic growth.
In late February, the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS) released a report from their Congressional Task Force on Trade Capacity Building (TCB) on “Opportunities in Strengthening Trade Assistance.” While the report focuses primarily on US efforts to improve the effectiveness and relevance of its TCB programs, it signals a shift in international engagement and understanding of the role trade plays on the growth of a developing economy.
The shift is also indicative of a growing global development trend toward incorporating the voice of the recipient country from the beginning stages of negotiations through agreement ratification. What is interesting about the current TCB discussions is the recognition by major players in the development world of including the knowledge and expertise of the private sector. Ultimately, it is the private sector in the developing and developed countries that will bear the fruits of economic growth and trade.