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.”
Attention Bloggers: Don’t forget about CIPE’s 2013 Blog Competition! The deadline for submission is December 2!
The Internet has reshaped the way the world does business, creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs and new modes for participating in the democratic process. As part of its celebration for Global Entrepreneurship Week, CIPE Pakistan recently held a blogging training session for University of Karachi students in the department of Mass Communication. The aim of the session was to give young bloggers the skills they need to become more effective citizen journalists, understanding complex issues and writing substantive content on political, economic, business and social issues in Pakistan.
CIPE was also seeking to encourage these students to take a more entrepreneurial approach toward building their own careers. As CIPE Pakistan Country Director Moin Fudda told the participants, Pakistan faces a range of challenges, including energy shortages, unstable security, and poor governance; but the biggest challenge might be the growing population coupled with high unemployment.
As Fudda pointed out, each year more young people enter the job market, but face a lack of professional opportunities. Against this backdrop, sessions such as these can help give students new ideas about how their hard work can open new career paths that could help them earn a living. Further, as Fudda pointed out, blogging on issues facing Pakistan will help ensure that young people are active and concerned citizens, who will eventually be ready to take leadership roles in the country.
In September, Pakistan passed an important democratic milestone: its first peaceful handover of power from one elected government to another, breaking the long cycle of coups and military dictatorship the country has suffered through since its independence.
This moment was a long time in the making, the culmination of many efforts by many different segments of society. Could the slow-and-steady transition be a model for other countries to follow?
Low primary and secondary enrollment for girls threatens Pakistan’s economic future. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The World Economic Forum has once again put Pakistan at the bottom of its index ranking “gender gaps” in economics, politics, education, and health. Last year, Pakistan ranked 132 out of 134 countries, down from 127 the year before. This year there is no change in the overall ranking, however the report suggests that the state of gender-based biases in Pakistan remains abominable — and worse, stagnant.
While women make up over 51 of the population in Pakistan, only 3 percent of women participate actively in the economy. Thanks to CIPE efforts in 2006, Pakistani women now have the right to form business associations, and as a result there are eight registered women business associations in the country. Additionally, every chamber in Pakistan now has to elect two women members to its board. But gender equality is still a major issue in the country. The recent Gender Gap Report also mentions that while the gap between men and women has narrowed slightly in most countries during the past year, Pakistan still ranks the lowest in Asia and the Pacific region.
By Andrew Wilson and Marc Schleifer
Last month in Karachi, CIPE’s Deputy Director for Strategic Planning and Programs Andrew Wilson and Pakistan Country Director Moin Fudda took part in a conference organized by the Pakistan Institute for Corporate Governance, together with CIPE and the Association of Chartered Accountants, on the corporate governance implications of concentrated ownership in listed firms. Wilson was invited to give the keynote address and provide an international perspective at this event, which received coverage by the local press in Pakistan. To help spur discussion, we wanted to share Wilson’s remarks on the CIPE blog, since concentrated ownership is an issue that firms, shareholders and regulators grapple with worldwide.
Some of the basic theories of corporate governance start with an idealized picture of a firm with widely dispersed ownership, but in practice, the theoretical model of diffuse ownership faces problems. When a company is owned by numerous small shareholders, it can be difficult for them to get information about the firm’s operations, meaning that a great deal of the real control rests with management; the principal-agent problem arises and company performance can suffer, to the detriment of the owners (the shareholders). This would seem to argue in favor of a more concentrated ownership system, and in fact, around the world we see that diffuse ownership is indeed the exception, not the rule.
In most countries, the dominant organizational form is concentrated ownership, with control of most firms either in the hands of a family, a larger holding company, major institutional investors, or in some cases the state. This is true even in developed economies with robust capital markets and a high level of private ownership, where individual listed corporations are often part of a complex network of international or domestic holdings, which themselves in turn may or may not be listed. There are various reasons why this might be the case.
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.