Programs in Latin America & the Caribbean

Latin America and the Caribbean is a region divided politically and economically, with one group of countries subscribing to global competitiveness and adherence to democratic principles, and another group characterized by authoritarian tendencies and increasing government control of the economy, media, and civil society. Across both camps, weak institutions generally prevent governments from providing adequate accountability for its use of public resources. High levels of public dissatisfaction serve as a reminder that challenges to democracy are constant and consolidated democracy is not guaranteed even in countries that seek to be competitive and adhere to democratic principles.

In this context, CIPE and its partners are bolstering democracy through programs that improve both the internal functioning and public image of private sector associations, foster the role of think tanks in the economic policy-making process, develop entrepreneurship and leadership skills among youth, and cultivate private sector-led solutions to corruption and citizen insecurity.

Nicaragua: Raising the Voice of Women Entrepreneurs

In Nicaragua, women businesses owners face many challenges in starting, maintaining, and scaling up their businesses due to cultural norms and economic policies. CIPE is working with the Red de Empresarias de Nicaragua (REN), also known as the Network of Nicaraguan Businesswomen, and a consortium of women entrepreneurs and business organizations to develop a National Businesswomen’s Agenda (NBWA) - a tool to identify policy priorities and present them to the relevant authorities. With the agenda in hand, REN and its allies are promoting policy and operational changes that reduce gender disparities in access to and control over resources and services. As a result of REN’s advocacy efforts, there is now a greater understanding among business leaders and policymakers of the challenges facing women entrepreneurs, helping to increase the interest of key actors such as banks, credit institutions, universities, and the government in collaborating with organizations such as REN to reduce barriers that women in business face. Having garnered significant media attention and positive reception from key stakeholders, women entrepreneurs in Nicaragua are beginning to recognize the benefits of organizing and cooperating to actively promote their interests. This project is increasing access to the policymaking process for women and contributing to a better business environment for women entrepreneurs. At the same time, it is leading to a greater awareness in Nicaragua about the importance of making women’s voices heard, a key element of strengthening democracy in the country.

Mexico: Combating Corruption in the Private Sector

In Mexico, corruption has become so ingrained in everyday life that it is often incorrectly perceived as being synonymous with democracy, which represents a threat to Mexico’s democratic future. CIPE is working with the Center for the Study of Institutional Governance (CEGI) at IPADE Business School (Pan-American Institute for Top Business Management) to educate Mexican businesses about corruption risks and anti-corruption strategies. This approach to combating corruption in the Mexican business community centers on a series of focus groups and anti-corruption workshops for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey. SMEs, which collectively constitute the majority of registered businesses in Mexico and employ roughly 80 percent of the workforce, are often less likely to understand their legal protections and more likely to be vulnerable to corruption risks. The focus group discussions hone in on the specific impacts corruption has on small- and mediumsized business owners. Anti-corruption workshops provide a forum to share international collective action efforts against corruption and work with the business owners to tailor strategies for combating corruption at the local level.

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