Institutional Partnerships Program Final Program Report

This final report is an evaluation of the $1.7 million, two-year Institutional Partnership between the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the Russian Federation Chamber of commerce and Industry (RCCI). This program was funded by the US Agency for International Development and administered by the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX). CIPE and RCCI implemented a 3-pillar program:

  • Training. Five business association training seminars were held five cities. A total of 133 leaders and key staff of Russian regional chambers participated in training, plus 35 who received training in the U.S. Since then, many Russian regional chamber leaders have used their training materials as a key reference source. The seminars also facilitated greater interaction and networking among the Russian chamber participants.
  • Small grants. Nineteen chambers at the regional and national level received up to $10,000 each as seed money for innovative projects. These small grants totaled more than $175,000 and leveraged nearly $330,000 in Russian Chamber matching contributions – or 187 percent of the grant total. This impressive match demonstrated the commitment of our Russian partners. The Small Grants program also enhanced cooperation between the national Chamber and its regional and local chambers.
  • The successes of these small grants are described in the publication Strengthening Russian Chambers of Commerce and Industry: Case Studies. That publication, written in English and Russian, is one of the products of this partnership. It is also available via CIPE’s World Wide Web Home Page ( CIPE has described the book via its ListServ, as have other organizations interested in Russia, such as the Maine Business School.
  • Accreditation. CIPE arranged for U.S. accreditation experts to provide advice to the Russian Chamber in developing its own accreditation program regional chambers. The presence of U.S. experts added credibility and prestige, an important factor as the national chamber sought to persuade regional chambers of the benefits of the new program. The national chamber has instituted its program, and four chambers – all of whom received Small Grants -- have already received accreditation. In addition, four other Chambers are in the process of applying for accreditation, all of whom have had significant involvement in the CIPE partnership program.

As to be expected in any endeavor of this scope, this partnership project presented challenges to beovercome, ranging from the continual need to improve Russian translations of seminar material to therestructuring of the Russian Chamber’s Business Education Center, whose staff worked closely with CIPE in implementing this project. Considerable effort also was needed to put together a concrete plan of action with the Russian Chamber concerning the partnership’s contributions to the latter’s accreditation program. Despite these challenges, the program succeeded in achieving its objectives to assist the Russian Chamber in its development as a modern, effective business association.

The experience of the past two years, as well as continuing cooperation between CIPE and RCCI after the completion of the project, confirm the assessment of IREX’s technical evaluator Gina Volynsky, who described the relationship as “a true partnership.” As a senior RCCI official commented to IREX, RCCI’s relationship with CIPE is the best they have ever had with a foreign donor. Both partners remain committed to maintain and expand this unique relationship. In September 1997, the Boards of Directors of CIPE and the National Endowment for Democracy approved funding for a new joint project to develop RCCI’s training capabilities for entrepreneurs as well as Chamber staffs throughout the country. As Russian Chamber President Stanislav Smirnov wrote to CIPE President Richard Lesher on September 1, 1997, the partnership with CIPE “was instrumental in advancing accreditation standards and the professionalism of chamber executives in Russia. I hope for our continued cooperation.”

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