Fixing Fragile States from the Inside Out: The Power of Business

4.11.2017, 2:00PM to 3:30PM

The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and OEF Research, a program of the One Earth Future Foundation (OEF) co-hosted a presentation and panel discussion on the role of local business communities in repairing fragile states.

Fragile States continue to garner international attention, and the need to overcome this problem cannot be ignored. They put pressure on the global community by creating devastating poverty and restricted access to basic services for citizens. Fragile States also produce terrorism, piracy, human trafficking, and other dark network activity that puts the well-being of the global community in danger at much higher rates than secure states. One key way to address these problems is through the influence and conduct of the business community.

This event began with a presentation on the new report Firm Behavior in Fragile States: The Cases of Somaliland, South Sudan, and Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and the panelists discussed how the lessons learned from the report can be used in other regions and countries.

Watch the panel discussion here:


  • Dr. Victor Odundo Owuor, Research Associate, OEF Research, One Earth Future


  • Lars Benson, Regional Director for Africa, Center for International Private Enterprise
  • Arshad Sayed, Chief Executive Officer, Global Connect
  • Thilasoni Benjamin Musuku, Task Lead for the World Bank’s Financial/Private Sector Operation in Somalia/Somaliland
  • Danielle Walker, Senior Director, U.S.-Africa Business Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • Scott Stearns, State Department Correspondent, Voice of America (discussion moderator)


About the Presenter:

  • Dr. Victor Odundo Owuor is a Research Associate at OEF Research, a program of One Earth Future (OEF). Owuor’s primary responsibility at OEF is to develop research in the role of business in governance and stability. Owuor received his PhD from the University of Texas at Dallas in December 2012. He is also a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) – an internationally recognized designation for those with subject matter expertise in the tackling of money laundering and the combating of terrorism financing. Owuor joined OEF from University of Texas at Dallas where he was an instructor of record for an introductory course on Negotiations and Conflict Resolution. His prior work experience includes nearly two decades of project and operations management in his native Kenya.


About the Panelists:

  • Lars Benson is the Regional Director for Africa at the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). He works closely with partners representing the private sector, civil society, and government to implement policy and regulatory reforms, enhance anti-corruption initiatives, engage in public-private dialogue, and improve democratic governance across the continent. Prior to joining CIPE, Benson served as the country director assisting small and medium enterprises to provide services and products to the oil industry in Angola. He also led an economic development and private enterprise program in Azerbaijan and worked on numerous World Bank, USAID, and State Department projects in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia.
  • Arshad Sayed is the CEO of Global Connect, where he is rapidly growing the company to become a major partner for US-Asia businesses looking to realize potential cross-border opportunities. Among its early successes include earning mandates from public entities in India for developing green energy and infrastructure projects. Earlier, at Peabody Energy, he led its India & Mongolia businesses as President, while based in Beijing, China. At the World Bank, he executed multi-billion dollar deals while working across 45+ countries, leading the Bank’s strategy and operations in Europe and Central Asia, and initiating first-of-its-kind social innovation programs that are featured in the Harvard Business Review as best practice in innovation.
  • Thilasoni Benjamin Musuku is a finance professional working out of the Washington, DC headquarters of the World Bank. Benjamin, a native of Zambia, is the World Bank’s Senior Financial Sector Specialist for the Africa Region’s Finance and Markets Division. Benjamin is also the Task Lead for the Bank’s Financial/Private Sector Operation in the Somali peninsula. He has co-authored multiple publications for the World Bank including policy notes dealing with trade in banking and insurance services, as well as a piece identifying opportunities and barriers to reducing the cost of money transfer services within the Western Africa Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA). Benjamin has held progressively responsible positions at the World Bank including that of Payment System’s Specialist for the Africa Region. In that role, he was also the Lead for the Future of African Remittances (FAR) Program – a World Bank platform for enhancing competition and innovation in the remittances market of Africa.
  • Danielle Walker is the Senior Director of the U.S.-Africa Business Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Walker has worked at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce since 2005. She leads the Chamber’s Eastern Africa Initiative and the U.S.-Africa Business Center’s efforts on trade facilitation and energy. She works closely with Chamber member companies, business coalitions, AmChams, government leaders, and business executives to achieve their business objectives in this complex part of the world. Previously, Walker’s portfolio included the Middle East and North Africa in addition to sub-Sahara. She spearheaded numerous programs involving heads of state and senior government officials from across the region. She was also engaged in the activities of the Iraq Business Initiative and played a central role in creating the U.S.-Egypt Business Council.
  • Scott Stearns (discussion moderator) is Voice of America’s (VOA) State Department correspondent. He has previously worked as VOA’s Dakar Bureau Chief, White House correspondent, and Nairobi Bureau Chief since beginning his career as a freelance reporter in the Liberian civil war. He has written for the BBC, UPI, the Associated Press, The Jerusalem Post, and The Economist. Scott has a Bachelors and Masters in Journalism from Northwestern University.


Center for International Private Enterprise
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