Programs in South Asia
The key to successful reform in South Asia will be building grassroots support for democracy and strengthening a wide range of governance and economic institutions. As such, the Center for International Private Enterprise’s (CIPE) focus in South Asia is on the key themes of access to information, association governance, advocacy, women and youth, and the informal sector. Working on these issues will enable CIPE to create a strong network of individuals and groups throughout the region who are dedicated to reform, and can serve as a springboard for intensified future programs. CIPE is also examining the role Pakistan and Afghanistan can play in bringing democratic and economic reforms to the region through stronger cross-border trade and increased business community interactions.
Afghanistan: Institutional Capacity and Access to Information
Since 2004, CIPE has been engaged in Afghanistan to build an understanding of market economics and democratic governance, and to promote dialogue among policymakers, the private sector, and the public. CIPE supports the creation of economic opportunity and entrepreneurship, and will work with its private sector partners in promoting the policy recommendations outlined in the National Business Agenda (NBA) launched in March 2011. The NBA was developed by a coalition of Afghan business organizations and represents their policy priorities. CIPE will continue to host roundtables and seminars for provincial and national policymakers and business leaders to develop policy solutions that will build Afghanistan’s economy. The seminars improve the ability of National Assembly members to review and pass legislation and improve local governance by building the capacity of the Provincial Councils. Finally, CIPE’s Tashabos high school entrepreneurship course, divided across grades 10 – 12, provides students with an understanding of business, economics, and citizenship and encourages students to develop and implement their own business enterprises.
Program Results & Impact:
- Tashabos students in Afghanistan started 513 personal or family businesses in 2010. 110 students helped improve an existing family business.
- In August 2010, CIPE’s anti-corruption conference in Kabul drew over 100 individuals from 21 provinces and issued a communiqué outlining a set of 16 policy recommendations. Participants called on the government to enact a set of comprehensive anti-corruption laws immediately.
- With a grant from CIPE, the Federation of Afghanistan Craftsmen and Traders (FACT) helped eliminate a tax on livestock and reduced licensing and registration procedures from 18 steps to six.
- Security, corruption, and lack of electricity top the concerns of businesspeople in Afghanistan’s three biggest cities, according to CIPE’s latest survey of the business community, conducted in Herat, Jalalabad, Kabul, Kandahar, Khost, and Mazar-e-Sharif.
- As a result of CIPE’s training, members of the Economic and Budget Commission held advocacy meetings with the Ministry of Commerce, which resulted in a promise to take steps to reduce monopolies and counter oil and gas hoarding, and with the Norms and Standards Organization, to discuss ways to decrease low quality food and medicine imports.
- CIPE and its coalition of business associations launched a new National Business Agenda in March 2011 at an event with over 150 participants. The event was attended by high-level government officials, including the Minister of Commerce and Industry, the Head of the High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption andthe Senior Economic Advisor to President Karzai. The business community will use the NBA document for ongoing advocacy and to monitor success in policy reforms.
Bangladesh: Promoting Women's Advocacy
CIPE has worked for the past several years with the Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI) to support an advocacy program designed to tackle the institutional barriers faced by the country’s women entrepreneurs. BWCCI has run a series of successful advocacy campaigns built around its Women’s National Business Agenda (WNBA). In particular, BWCCI has eased access to credit for women entrepreneurs by advocating with the Central Bank to provide women with low-cost loans with no collateral requirements. BWCCI also monitors Central Bank branch implementation of these new rules.
Program Results & Impact
- After extensive advocacy by BWCCI with the Central Bank, approximately $30 million has been allocated specifically for loans to women entrepreneurs, without collateral and at low interest rates. To date, nearly $23 million has been provided to over 3,000 women, helping to create around 20,000 new jobs. All banks in Bangladesh must establish dedicated desks for women entrepreneurs, and banks must make at least five percent of their SME finance loans to women, according to Central Bank instructions.
- In 2010, BWCCI added 120 new members, bringing its total membership to nearly 2,500. BWCCI holds regular meetings for its membership, and keeps members informed of its advocacy activities through frequent communications. BWCCI is also expanding the range of services it offers its members, through training centers and branch offices.
Nepal: Building Access to Information
In Nepal, CIPE has worked with Samriddhi, the Prosperity Foundation, to run a successful youth entrepreneurship program called Arthalaya. The week-long Arthalaya workshops provide college students with instruction in entrepreneurship, business, democratic governance, and leadership. Samriddhi also encourages and supports the creation of Entrepreneurs’ Clubs at these students’ colleges to support their continued growth as entrepreneurs and to share knowledge with peers. Going forward, CIPE and Samriddhi will build the organization’s capacity to serve as a think tank that will provide much-needed independent policy input to policymakers and the public. As Nepal emerges from a period of political instability, key economic issues remain unresolved, and the country needs strong, independent voices to shape a wide range of emerging policy debates.
Program Results & Impact
- Arthalaya graduates have launched self-funded Entrepreneurs’ Clubs in colleges around the country. In 2010, these clubs held dozens of events for students, including discussion sessions with local business leaders, screenings of documentary films, and social activities, as well as publishing a newsletter and holding an alumni conference.
- The Arthalaya program is having a strong impact on students’ appreciation for, and understanding of, democratic and market ideas and values. Many have launched new businesses and are already making a positive economic contribution in Nepal.
Pakistan: Promoting Economic Reform Through Business Advocacy
In Pakistan, CIPE focuses on enabling citizens, through business associations and think tanks, to provide input in the policymaking process and effect economic policy change at the local and regional levels. CIPE aims to reduce barriers to business, level the playing field for the private sector, and strengthen the role of business in ensuring democratic governance. Such a focus strengthens Pakistan’s democracy in two key ways. First, if the business community takes the lead in driving a more participatory policy process, it can alert other civil society organizations that change is possible in Pakistan. Second, improvements in the business climate may lead to the growth of small- and medium-sized businesses, thus expanding the middle class and creating stakeholders in democracy. CIPE also works to expand opportunities for women by supporting the development of women’s chambers of commerce. CIPE worked with the business community to reform the Pakistan Trade Organizations Ordinance, which now allows women to form their own chambers and serve on chamber of commerce and association boards of directors.
Find out more at CIPE Pakistan's website (English)
Program Results & Impact
- CIPE helped establish three new women’s chambers of commerce in 2010, in Mardan, Peshawar, and Quetta. There are now approximately 2,500 members in eight women’s chambers across the country.
- The Women’s Resource Center at the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce launched a directory of women entrepreneurs with information on 85 active women entrepreneurs in different sectors of the local economy. The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) created a Women’s Resource Center that has helped over 450 female members by conducting workshops, seminars, and exhibitions. The LCCI Center also created its own website and publishes a monthly piece in the LCCI newsletter. The Sarhad Chamber has seen an increase of female members from six to over 200 members in one year.
- Democratic Governance
- Access to Information
- Combating Corruption
- Business Association Development
- Corporate Governance
- Legal & Regulatory Reform
- Informal Sector & Property Rights
- Corporate Citizenship (CSR)
- South Asia
- Southeast Europe
- Middle East & North Africa
- Latin America & the Caribbean