In recent years, Eastern Europe has seen the rise of democratic ideals and the advance of economic governance. However, these advancements have also seen a fair share of obstacles, setbacks, and international interference. Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine face a diverse and complex set of economic and political challenges that have manifested themselves in various ways, from massive reform initiatives to large-scale protests and political upheavals.
Despite hurdles faced, these three countries present significant promise for continued economic and democratic progress. In Moldova, citizens elected their first female President in 2020, the anti-corruption-oriented leader Maia Sandu. Ukrainian civil society and citizens continue to advocate for strengthening small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) as they continue to experience the devastating economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and endemic corruption. In Belarus, protestors continue to take to the streets to demand ex-President Lukashenka’s resignation, a democratic transition, and a market-oriented economy.
Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine remain on the cutting edge of democracy’s potential. CIPE remains dedicated to supporting our partners to promote economic resilience and shared opportunity.
CIPE’S Objectives in the Region
- Enhance the role of leading business associations and the private sector in public policy decision-making
- Improve the capacity of the private sector and public officials to cooperate in developing and implementing economic reforms
- Foster the strategic engagement of local stakeholders in efforts that promote good governance norms such as anti-corruption compliance and corporate governance
- Support local initiatives to address and raise awareness of governance challenges posed by corrosive capital inflows
CIPE’s programs in Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova focus on topics including business advocacy, public-private dialogue, coalition building, anti-corruption, and ethics.
Since the 1990s, CIPE has helped strengthen Ukrainian business associations by building their organizational capacity and providing them with support in developing the necessary skills to advocate for critical reform. CIPE field office in Kyiv plays an instrumental role in supporting young associations of SMEs to advocate business priorities, supporting efforts to enhance public-private dialogue, and supporting partners to conduct anti-corruption and compliance training. Through working with the National Business Coalition, an umbrella group of over 80 associations, to advocate for their top-10 business priorities, CIPE helped the group successfully advocate for 15 pieces of legislation that have been adopted or are currently in committee in the Verkhovna Rada. These laws will enact changes to reporting personal income tax, the use of digital cash registers, and the replacement of the tax authority to create a single analytical body for the investigation of economic crimes.
CIPE supports the Corporate Governance Professional Association (CGPA) to train Ukrainian SMEs and state-owned enterprises in compliance and transparent governance approaches. Through these initiatives, CIPE has demonstrated that compliance training is a key priority of the Ukrainian private sector, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic. CIPE also partners with the Centre for Economic Strategy to identify and close governance gaps that allow corrosive capital inflows.
CIPE also works in Ukraine with Stanford University’s Leadership Academy for Development and the Ukrainian Catholic University’s School of Public Management to effectively teach local policymakers how to collaborate with civil society voices. With an alumni base of more than 160 individuals committed to reform at various government, business, and civil society levels, they form a network that can reinforce and push needed reforms forward.
These efforts combined serve a significant role in fostering the necessary cross-sector support for economic and regulatory reforms that reduce corruption, increase efficiency, and encourage business growth. CIPE has worked with associations of SMEs at the city level to reduce heavy administrative burdens in time and resources while eliminating potential sources of corruption within draft regulatory acts. These efforts have saved SMEs hundreds of thousands of dollars annually and served to build a constructive, pro-growth dialogue at the city level.
Belarus has long been an outlier in a region where neighboring countries have gone through economic and political reforms. Belarus’ economic and political systems have remained firmly stuck in a state-dominated economic model, with over 70 percent of the economy under state control. For more than two decades, CIPE has provided capacity and technical skill-building programs for emerging private business associations, economic experts, and Belarusian youth to organize and push for incremental changes. CIPE programming has directly contributed to the development of an independently minded private sector, not beholden to state-owned enterprises.
Since 2006, CIPE’s work in Moldova has strengthened the private sector’s capacity, enhanced public-private dialogue, and deepened the understanding of corrosive capital and its effects on the Moldovan economy. CIPE works with the Alliance of Small Enterprises (AIM) to bring SMEs together to support an equitable and ethical business environment. Additionally, CIPE works with the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Policy (CEEP) to investigate corrosive capital inflows and support transparency in decision-making through informative roundtables and training.
In October 2020, as part of the Women and Girls Empowered (WAGE) consortium funded by the U.S. Department of State Office of Global Women’s Issues, CIPE launched the “Reducing Barriers to Women’s Economic Empowerment in Moldova” project in partnership with the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative. The project will support women’s business associations and civil society organizations in addressing legal and societal barriers to women’s economic empowerment through collective action.
CIPE has been active in the Eastern Europe region for 25 years. Some recent highlights of CIPE’s work in the region include:
- In Moldova, CIPE partner, Institute for the Development of Information Society (IDIS), built a coalition of private-sector actors known as the National Business Agenda Network (NBA Network) to strengthen the Moldovan private sector’s capacity.
- In 2018, the American Chamber of Commerce in Moldova created the Ethics and Compliance Club to engage businesses to implement anti-corruption and compliance initiatives.
- In July 2020, CIPE facilitated a trainer’s training (ToT), training 40 Moldovan officials responsible for implementing the law on transparency in decision-making from 17 Moldovan government agencies.
- In Ukraine, CIPE works with the Union of Ukrainian Entrepreneurs (SUP) to train government officials and private sector members to achieve successful public-private dialogue.