Business Magazine

Celebrating International Democracy Day

Posted on the 15 September 2011 by Center For International Private Enterprise @CIPEglobal

If people depend on government jobs and state-owned enterprises for their income, can they really hold their political leaders accountable? If entrepreneurs and local business owners are excluded from decision-making processes regarding policies and regulations that affect them, is that democracy? Private sector actors create jobs. By limiting their productiveness and participation in policymaking, you limit the potential of an entire country and the ability of democracy to deliver tangible, sustainable benefits.

CIPE works at the intersection of democratic and market-oriented reforms in countries around the globe. This private sector approach is essential for building strong democracies, or as we say, democracy that delivers. Our core themes build on this approach.

Business Associations: By working in associations, private sector actors gain a democratic voice in public policy debates and ensure that reforms benefit broader segments of the private sector, rather than just a few individual businesses. Working in associations also amplifies the effectiveness of businesses’ advocacy efforts.

Anticorruption: Corruption undermines political and economic reforms alike. CIPE works to change the environment that permits corruption to occur, thus making democracies perform better in the long term.

Advocacy: Identifying problems is not enough – reformers must come up with evidence-based, actionable solutions and know how to get policymakers to consider and use their input.

Corporate governance: Corporate governance is essential to all private sector activity. With good corporate governance, businesses ensure that they will be successful throughout changes in leadership and ownership. Well-functioning businesses contribute jobs to a stable and well-functioning democracy.

Democratic governance: Democracy goes beyond elections. The key to building successful democracies is ensuring that societies firmly establish democratic traditions, institutions and processes. Business associations can be a valuable part of a country’s civil society network, which is essential to democratic governance.

Access to information: Expanding the scope and quality of available information strengthens both the private and public sectors and enriches democratic discourse.

Property rights: Without a system of property rights, individuals and businesses cannot assure the security of their assets, including land, and they are not full stakeholders in a society. That limits their productivity, freedom, and ability to hold government and other actors accountable.

Women: As U.S. Ambassador Melanne Verveer said at CIPE’s Democracy that Delivers for Women conference, democracy without the inclusion of women is a contradiction in terms. For women to be empowered, they must participate in both the economic and political spheres.

Youth: For true democratic governance to take root, the next generation must have a stake in the future of their country. Without jobs and a way to participate in policymaking, youth may grow resentful of the environment they live in.

Informal sector: In informal economies, business activities go unrecorded. Without records, businesses cannot pay taxes that contribute to democratic accountability and services for their benefit. To harness the wealth of the informal sector, governments must offer adequate incentives for entrepreneurs and businesses to formalize.

In 2010, CIPE has worked with 122 local partners on 165 projects in 51 countries. In recognizing that today is the International Day of Democracy, here are some of CIPE’s recent efforts to strengthen democracy around the world. We hope you find these accomplishments inspirational as groups around the world continue to engage in democratic development.

  • Armenia – The Prime Minister announced the creation of the National Council on Small and Medium Enterprise Development. This is the first time in Armenia’s history that the government has established a permanent, formal platform for dialog with the small and medium-sized enterprise sector. The government’s decision to form the Council was based on recommendations from the Business Advocacy Network (BAN), a group of 25 business organizations that, with CIPE support, has emerged as the country’s most prominent advocate for Armenian small and medium enterprises.
  • Ghana – As part of a CIPE Public-Private Dialogue (PPD) program, the Private Enterprise Foundation held a two-day capacity-building training program in Accra on advocacy for 25 executives of apex farmer-based organizations (FBOs), which included the Ghana National Association of Farmers and Fishermen, the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, and the Ghana Association of Women Entrepreneurs. The purpose of the training program was to equip these FBO executives with skills to effectively engage with policymakers in upcoming PPD sessions.
  • Iraq – On June 7, the Karbala Chamber of Commerce (KCC), with CIPE support, held a roundtable to discuss obstacles to economic development in Karbala’s agricultural sector. The 42 participants from farming associations, research centers and other private sector organizations focused on priority problems and suggested reforms. The Karbala Provincial Business Agenda (PBA) will include these details in order to serve as a basis for public-private dialog and private sector-led advocacy to reform economic policies.
  • Russia – Following an advocacy campaign by the Saratov coalition of business associations, the prosecutor’s office of Saratov Region has revised the regulations for calculating the cost of surveying land for potential construction. The coalition’s research showed that existing regulations gave local officials tremendous latitude in the fees charged for surveying work.

For even more information about CIPE’s recent work on strengthening democracy around the world, you can also check out CIPE’s latest OverseasREPORT:

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