The South Caucasus is one of the most complex and diverse regions in the world. Nesting three countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia and several disputed territories, the region borders Europe and Asia and is home to the largest mountain range in Europe, the Greater Caucasus.
This region was part of the Soviet Union until 1991. After gaining independence, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia each assumed unique struggles to stabilize their economies and establish new, independent political systems. Although military conflicts often lead headlines and analysis about the region, the South Caucasus holds significant promise with high literacy rates, steadily emerging market economies, and growing engagement with the West.
CIPE’s objectives in the region
In the South Caucasus, CIPE works with the business community and civil society to:
- Foster anti-corruption and labor safety compliance and improve business integrity standards;
- Strengthen the capacity of business associations to contribute to economic reform in their countries; and
- Build inclusive enabling environments for small and medium enterprises, women entrepreneurs, constructive capital™ and trade.
CIPE’s programs in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia focus on topics including business association development, public-private dialogue, coalition building, women’s economic empowerment, and business integrity.
Since 2018, CIPE has worked with local partners such as the Corporate Governance Center (CGC) and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Armenia (ArmCCI) to promote business integrity and corporate governance in Armenia. As part of this collaboration, CIPE has trained over 200 business representatives in anti-corruption compliance and dozens of companies have publicly committed to upholding business integrity standards.
CIPE, as a subcontractor to Creating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), launched implementation of Women in Associations, a new component of the USAID Private Sector Activity, in 2020. Through this component, CIPE works to strengthen the capacity of women’s business associations and promote economic reforms that reduce barriers for women entrepreneurs and women in the workforce. The three-year initiative will promote dialogue between the private sector and government, enhance protections for women in policies, laws, regulations, and practices, and empower women’s business associations and entrepreneurs.
Through its signature “Strong Associations: Strong Advocates” program, CIPE has supported over 20 Georgian business associations to develop their capacity to serve and represent the Georgian private sector since 2017. The latest phase of the project, launched in 2020, focuses on business advocacy and private sector coalitions.
CIPE is also an implementer of the USAID Economic Governance Program (EGP) as a subcontractor to Deloitte Consulting. This five-year program, launched in 2019, aims to promote a more inclusive business environment, attract foreign investment, and strengthen the Georgian private sector.
In 2020, CIPE began a new partnership with the Solidarity Center as part of the U.S. Department of Labor “Strengthening Labor Law Enforcement and Improving Labor Safety in Georgia” project to support Georgian business associations strengthen their understanding and compliance with Georgia’s new labor legislation.
CIPE has been active in South Caucasus over 20 years. Some recent highlights of CIPE’s work in the region include:
In Georgia, as part of the USAID Governing for Growth program and as a subcontractor to Deloitte Consulting, CIPE contributed to new infrastructure for public-private dialogue to engage Georgia’s private sector in the legal and regulatory reforms aiming to create business-enabling environments. Over five years, Governing for Growth engaged more than 800 private sector representatives, advancing 16 business-enabling reforms which created more than 2 billion GEL in savings.
Through previous phases of the “Strong Associations – Strong Advocates” program in Georgia, CIPE worked to strengthen business associations’ capacity in areas including membership development, strategic planning, advocacy, and Covid-19 response and recovery.
Elizabeth Lenz Jedwab – Program Officer, Europe and Eurasia