Business Magazine

The Role of Business Associations in Democracy

Posted on the 17 October 2014 by Center For International Private Enterprise @CIPEglobal
Network members attending the meeting in Abidjan.

Members of a CIPE-supported business association network attend a meeting in Abidjan.

Business associations contribute immensely to economic growth, development, peace, and prosperity.  They play a key role in building inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystems and can bolster the ability of firms of all sizes to grow and create jobs.

Business associations are integral to the democratic process, as they represent the entrepreneurial interests of the middle class, thereby making them essential vehicles for popular participation in a democratic society.

As advocates for the private sector, business associations are agents for concerted political action, and thus act in the best interest of their members, industry, and nation. They not only play a pivotal role in promoting good governance and sound policy making, but also maintain the private sector as the engine for a nation’s economy and promote an open society and transparent government.  Through associations, the private sector can voice legitimate needs while engaging in a transparent policy reform process.

CIPE builds the capacity of associations as the independent voice of the business community.  CIPE works to help associations to advocate for a more competitive economic environment.  Through its programs and international partners, CIPE builds the capacity of business associations through sound governance and accountability to members, including women and the youth.  Additionally, CIPE looks to improve association governance and effectiveness, through executive education, technical assistance, case studies, and toolkits.

Along with the World Chambers Federation and other stakeholders, CIPE developed the Governance Principles for Business Associations and Chambers of Commerce, which outlines a set of governance principles to serve as a reference point for chambers and business associations globally.  This guide has proven quite popular globally, as chambers and associations in Egypt, Ukraine and other countries have used it to help improve their association governance.

Amol Nadkarni was a Knowledge Management Intern at CIPE.

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