Throughout Romania’s first decade of political and economic transition, the government paid little attention to the needs of the private sector. Although private enterprise became legal in 1990, corruption, weak market institutions, and a lack of information hindered growth. Because the government favored established interests, individual entrepreneurs struggled to keep up with state-owned competitors and had little means of communicating with policy makers, let alone influencing them.
Iraq’s efforts to establish a democratic system depend on the development of strong, professional political parties that are capable of both effective governance and representation of their constituencies. Within a short period, as many as 150 political parties came into existence to contest elections in 2005. Few of these parties had understanding of a market economy or plans for promoting economic growth.
Drug trafficking and terrorism are often portrayed as the most severe threats to Colombia’s economic and political progress. But in a survey conducted by the Colombian Confederation of Chambers of Commerce (Confecámaras) and the Corona Foundation, more than 37 percent of Colombians identified corruption as the country’s main problem. Confecámaras pioneered the Probidad (“integrity”) project in late 1999 to fight corruption in the public sector and change the culture of business in Colombia.
The political changes of 1989 triggered the development of the private sector in Romania and the creation of support organizations to represent the interests of the business community. Romanian women proved ambitious and willing to take risks, making their way into an arena previously reserved for men by founding successful businesses and ascending to top management positions.
Malawi, one of the world’s least developed countries, has held democratic elections since 1994. After three decades of rule by a president-for-life, the country is beginning to emerge from political and economic underdevelopment and an acute lack of civil society. Women’s groups in particular are beginning to play an important role in the development of civil society and the private sector. One of the most successful organizations has been the National Association of Business Women of Malawi (NABW).
In the 1980s, the Congress of the Dominican Republic had little influence on public policy decisions, which were dominated by the executive branch. The country needed serious economic policy change in order to overcome debilitating problems like unemployment, inflation, foreign debt, and misuse of public funds. Yet legislators were at the mercy of the government bureaucracy when it came to estimating the economic impact of legislation. They had few resources with which to analyze legislation, lacking both personal and committee research staff.
In 2003, using a process developed by the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), business associations, think tanks, and civil society organizations in eight Russian regions formed local coalitions to advocate for a better business climate. In each region, the local coalition crafted a Regional Business Agenda (RBA) for improved private sector growth. Participants worked in small groups with their regional partners to identify common obstacles and development objectives.
In September 2004, the Ahram Regional Press Institute (ARPI) and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) organized a historic two-day forum in Alexandria, Egypt that focused on increasing awareness and knowledge of democratic institutions. It highlighted the importance of improving governance through citizen participation in decision making, a vibrant and independent media, and the reduction of legal and regulatory burdens.
In Kenya, the millions of entrepreneurs and workers in the informal sector have long been disorganized and without a voice. Known as the jua kali, the sector faces numerous challenges. Cumbersome laws and regulations tend to inhibit the growth of jua kali businesses, and as business owners are unable to secure ownership over their shops and land, it is diffi cult to access credit.
To these numerous challenges, the government has given a mixed response, largely because of a lack of dialogue between the government and the informal sector.
The Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) has led the way in integrating private sector input into Bangladesh’s national policy process. With assistance from the Center for International Private Enterprise, DCCI developed an advocacy campaign that achieved important economic reforms. These reforms liberalized the economy, improved the investment climate, facilitated job creation, and made government more responsive and accountable.
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