End of Year Impact 2012


Around the world, tens of millions of men and women strive every day to improve their lives through private enterprise. Over time, their individual accomplishments can add up to wholescale economic and political transformation. But in order for these businesspeople to create change, they need more than ideas and energy. They need a level playing field, fair and inclusive markets, and clear rules for engagement. This is where the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) begins, partnering with the private sector to help build the infrastructure of market economies and encourage democratic reform.  From Nigeria to Pakistan, Mexico to the Middle East, and Thailand to Ukraine, CIPE’s work delivers real, positive impact. The highlights presented here provide a window into the breadth of work that CIPE and its partners undertake, helping to strengthen and support democracy and market institutions around the world.


Leveraging Electoral Politics to Promote Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) Priorities

A network of 11 business association coalitions helped give Ukrainian small and medium-sized businesses a clearer voice in the 2012 national election cycle. With support from CIPE’s Kyiv office, the coalitions identified and publicized issues of importance to the business community, addressed the issues with parliamentary candidates, and helped build consensus through polling and focus groups. The coalitions found that reducing the regulatory barriers to doing business, creating a mechanism for holding elected officials accountable, and lessening the tax burden on SMEs were the most important issues. The partner organizations publicly requested candidates to sign pledges to pursue such issues and later found evidence of support in both media coverage and candidates’ rhetoric. Approximately 70 local officials, business association leaders, journalists, and candidates took part in roundtable discussions and subsequent press conferences, highlighting the priorities and candidates’ responses. In total, 53 candidates pledge commitment to the priorities selected by local entrepreneurs, and four of these were elected in October 2012 to the 450-member parliament.


Promoting Policy Debate in Mexican Elections

As a result of CIPE’s partner’s efforts to inform and generate debate among presidential candidates and the general public, Mexico’s newly-inaugurated president Enrique Pena Nieto has adopted 20 proposals on issues such as transparency and accountability, anti-corruption, media, competition, and regulation. In elections, the open and transparent discussion of tangible policy issues with input from a variety of civil society actors can help create stronger, sounder policies that lead towards greater equity and prosperity. The Center for Development Research (CIDAC), with support from CIPE, developed and promoted debate of 53 important policy proposals during the 2012 Mexican elections, including the 20 noted above. CIDAC made active use of its social media tools and hosted several events to encourage discussion of the democratic well-being and economic development of Mexico, including one event in which all four presidential candidates attended.


Private Sector Approaches to Anti-Corruption in Thailand

A collective advocacy strategy has gained momentum in the fight against corruption in Thailand. With the long-term goal of reducing corruption and promoting transparency in the Thai marketplace, CIPE launched a project in July 2010 with the Thai Institute of Directors (IOD) to cultivate private sector support for national anti-corruption initiatives. Since then, CIPE and IOD have designed a collective action strategy for reducing corruption in Thailand, assembled a still-expanding coalition of companies and business associations committed to that strategy, and developed a series of training programs and certification processes that ensure that coalition companies are actually doing what they pledge to do on anti-corruption.

This private sector anti-corruption coalition now consists of the largest Thai and multinational corporations in Thailand, along with country’s most influential business associations. CIPE and IOD estimate that the coalition companies (not including the business associations) represent over 15 percent of the entire Thai economy and more than 1 million employees. Collective action is no longer an abstract concept in Thailand – it is an actual movement within the business community to attack the supply side of corruption.


Supporting the Private Sector in Transition Countries

Throughout the Middle East and North Africa, post-Arab Spring countries made steps toward democracy even as conflict continued. In 2012, CIPE helped build the capacity of the Syrian Economic Forum as a leading voice in the transition to democracy in Syria. The Syrian National Coalition, Syria’s internationally-recognized transitional authority, sought out the Forum to formulate the economic policies for a post-conflict Syria. The Forum has a robust online presence through which it publishes Syrian economic news, analysis, and policy proposals.

In Yemen, CIPE and its partner the Studies and Economic Media Center (SEMC) organized a broad and representative swath of the private sector to generate and advocate for a consensus-based Economic Vision for Yemen. Advocating to policymakers as a part of the country’s National Dialogue process to establish functioning democratic institutions, the SEMC and CIPE initiative reached the highest levels of government, including the Yemeni Prime Minister, who pledged to include the recommendations of the vision in the government’s development plan to strengthen the business environment.

In Iraq, the Chairman of the Economic and Investment Committee in Parliament nominated six parliamentarians to serve as members of private public working groups organized by CIPE partner Iraq 2020. These groups will analyze three laws hindering Iraqi business, representing the first such commitment to structured public-private dialogue by policymakers at the national level in Iraq.


Improving the Business Environment through Democratic Reform in Nigeria

Business coalitions in Nigeria’s North Central Zone have forcefully engaged with the government to bring about demonstrable change in the business operating environment. CIPE training programs and technical assistance helped to prepare them for this effective advocacy process. In Nasarawa State, the state government increased power allocation to businesses from 17 megawatts to 33, as well as supplied and installed 80 new electrical transformers. The coalitions in Niger State and Kwara State successfully advocated for reduced multiple taxation on businesses and reduced opportunities for corruption by civil servants. Kwara State repealed a repressive State Signage Law that allowed the government to collect multiple taxes for business signs. The Niger State government now issues uniforms and photo identification to tax collectors, and allows business owners to pay their taxes directly to designated banks. In Benue and Kogi state, business coalitions maintain offices at their respective state Houses of Assembly in order to provide input into business legislation at the beginning of the policy-development process. To date, the Kogi coalition has had direct input on 10 bills passed in the Assembly.


Ensuring a Global Voice for the Private Sector

A newly-created Free Enterprise and Democracy Network (FEDN) aims to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and mutual support among members, while spreading greater understanding of the linkages between economic freedom, prosperity and democracy. FEDN was developed by a group of prominent businesspeople and activists, with support from CIPE, to remedy a lack of private sector representation in global debates on democratic reform. After announcing the network in a plenary session of the Seventh Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy, FEDN steering committee members held a workshop in Lima titled, “Spreading the Message of Economic Freedom and Democracy.” Participants are working to craft messages that will resonate around the world and identify ways to amplify private sector voices.

Empowering Agents of Change

Sustained and consequential change requires engaged and active reformers. To be truly effective these reformers need support – including resources, communication platforms, and learning opportunities. CIPE’s Global programs in 2012 engaged diverse sets of reformers, including women and youth, and helped provide them with the tools necessary for successful progress.

  • Through its ChamberL.I.N.K.S. program, CIPE invited seven young professionals, hailing from countries as diverse as Pakistan and Zimbabwe, to shadow U.S. business associations and chambers of commerce for five weeks. The participants took with them tangible ideas for how to better represent and serve members of their home organizations.
  • CIPE’s KnowHow Mentorship program successfully paired eight associations from the Caucasus, Eastern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia with partners from U.S. associations in Washington, DC, Cleveland, Ohio, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The mentees ¬– which included associations of businesswomen, a small and medium-sized enterprise development organization, and a microfinance association – learned valuable skills they can use to strengthen their own organizations.
  • CIPE continues to connect and empower reformers through its various online platforms, Join our growing conversation of more than 120,000 visitors 3,600 Facebook fans, and 2,500 Twitter followers! Each day brings new exchanges on the full breadth of topics affecting Democracy That Delivers worldwide. Show your support for reformers and share your experiences – dive in at www.cipe.org.
Publication Type: 


Center for International Private Enterprise
1211 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 202-721-9200    Fax: 202-721-9250
Privacy Policy Board Login