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News / July 5, 2023

CIPE 2023 Learning Expo: Framing Issues In New Ways


The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) is celebrating 40 years of work to support democratic and economic development with a wide network of partners in over 130 countries. Milestones and lessons learned featured in a new timeline are the focus of ongoing public and private events, and also provide an opportunity to exchange new ideas.

At a recent hybrid Learning Expo in Washington, DC, CIPE staff from around the world discussed how programs in emerging markets are evolving amid rising concerns about inequality, politicization, authoritarianism, and corruption. “CIPE has answers for all of that,” Managing Director of Programs Abdu Alkebsi told attendees. “But we have to learn. We have to innovate.” (Alkebsi is pictured during the event at the right, next to CIPE Program Coordinator Rebecca Russavage).

From Egypt and Ethiopia to Kazakhstan and Colombia, a key component of CIPE projects continues to be private sector involvement, especially small and medium-sized businesses, which are the economic engines of their communities. Since its founding in 1983, CIPE has worked with more than 1000 business associations, chambers of commerce, and think tanks to address the challenges they face, to frame issues in new ways, and to create models for change that have since been replicated globally, according to CIPE’s Policy and Program Learning Director Kim Bettcher.

Some of the many successful approaches to the economic and social challenges cited by Bettcher and others at the Learning Expo include business-led agendas for reform on the national and sub-national levels, anti-corruption rapid-response measures for countries in transition, Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation co-leadership and projects, and economic empowerment programs for women and youth that are preparing thousands to be self-sufficient.

Concepts such as economic dignity and digital commerce are areas of growing importance flagged by many CIPE experts for developing new programs. The organization and its partners have developed numerous resources and online learning modules for people trying to start or expand businesses, as well as guides to help associations and advocacy groups shape policy. In one example, the Philippine government recently announced plans to distribute CIPE materials as part of the country’s e-commerce roadmap to assist its estimated 50,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). CIPE and partners will also be part of a USAID program called SPEED, short for Strengthening Private Enterprise for the Digital Economy. It is a five-year, $18 million, project to boost e-commerce in the Philippines through the increased use of new technologies related to everything from e-payments to supply-chain logistics.

Meanwhile, CIPE, in collaboration with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI), established the Future of Democracy multi-media collaboration and website. The initiative includes speculative fiction and creative writing by well-known experts and colleagues to encourage people to think about democracy in new ways and to demonstrate the positive role technology can play in democratic governance.

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