Policy Advocacy & Economic Reform

Since 2006,  CIPE has worked with its partners to support policy reforms concerning intellectual property rights, women and youth entrepreneurship, and most recently the anti-corruption.

CIPE events have brought together private sector stakeholders to discuss micro-economic problems in these issue areas and offer recommendations that will create a level playing field and improve governance mechanisms. CIPE Pakistan has been active in organizing roundtables, focus group meetings, and technical assistance forums to facilitate this process.

Business Revival through Good Governance

A lack of transparency, insubstantial public accountability, a weak judiciary, and complex legal structures are major causes of corruption in Pakistan and considered to be the most significant challenges to a prosperous business community. “CIPE Pakistan’s collective action has the potential to increase individual impact and include the business community as a trusted partner in driving governance reform,” said Dr. Afar Sajjad, Director of Policy Development for  ACCA.

Expanding Female-Owned Businesses from Micro to Small: A Policy Reform Roundtable

In the past few years, both the private and public sectors have worked to increase female participation in Pakistan’s economy. One such effort was the 2007 revision of the Trade Organizations Ordinance, which required all Pakistani chambers of commerce to include at least two women on their board of directors. In addition, for the first time in history, women can form their own separate chambers. Still, it is estimated that out of three million businesses in the country, only 100,000 are fully owned and operated by female entrepreneurs.

The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and  Industry (FPCCI) has identified Pakistan’s Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise (SME) Policy to be a barrier for female entrepreneurs, as the policy does not define female-owned SMEs. Since effective policies play an important role in creating a level playing field, CIPE partnered with FPCCI to organize a roundtable to discuss the issue in October 2009.

The roundtable brought together over 150 stakeholders from across the country. Participants included representatives of various chambers and NGOs and officials from bodies such as the SME Development Authority (SMEDA), the National Commission for Women’s Development, the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, and the State Bank of Pakistan.

At the roundtable meeting, keynote speaker Mr. Shahid Rashid, CEO of SMEDA, expressed his interest in developing a distinct gender-friendly policy for the development of women’s entrepreneurship, as the existing policy for SMEs offers no strategic roadmap to female entrepreneurs. He declared that the government is committed to the economic empowerment of women through micro-, small, and medium-sized enterprise.

After the event, SMEDA formed a taskforce to review Pakistan’s SME policy. Through this consultation a new classification was established to describe women-owned SMEs and was submitted to the relevant ministry for approval.

CIPE Partners Conference

CIPE recognizes that a continued understanding of local dynamics and changing market needs is essential for developing Pakistan’s future roadmap, and  brought together its key partners to discuss opportunities for Pakistan’s market future in October 2009. Representatives from twenty partner organizations were represented, including chambers and associations, women’s chambers, the Pakistan Institute of Corporate Governance, the Institute of Chartered Accountants, to name a few. Regional Director Andrew Wilson, Program Officer Brooke Millis, and the CIPE-Pakistan team reviewed feedback from the conference and were encouraged to learn that CIPE programs have been consistent with CIPE partners’ expectations. Participants suggested that CIPE should continue to focus on corporate governance, association governance, advocacy, and women’s leadership development.

Digital IPR Issues and their Impact on Business in Pakistan

“[With an] increasing amount of local intellectual property being created due to the increasing use of digital and mobile technologies, it was imperative that the IPR regime be a strong but fair one protecting the rights of both businesses and individuals.”

To address challenges in the protection of intellectual property rights in Pakistan, CIPE and the Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA) organized a business policy roundtable titled “Digital Intellectual Property Rights and their Impact on Business” in April 2009.

As Jehan Ara, President of P@SHA, noted, “[With an] increasing amount of local intellectual property being created due to the increasing use of digital and mobile technologies, it was imperative that the IPR regime be a strong but fair one protecting the rights of both businesses and individuals.”

The roundtable included 45 stakeholders from local and international information technology companies, banks, ISPs, pharmaceutical companies, media organizations, public sector organizations, and the legal community. The discussion focused on creating a sustainable IPR regime and identifying appropriate enforcement mechanisms to do so. Director Mir Zubair Mahmood Si of the Federal Investigation Agency demonstrated a strong commitment to working with the private sector to facilitate reform.

A set of draft recommendations were assembled at the conclusion of the roundtable, and a decision was made that workshops, seminars, and focus groups would be held at chambers, business support organizations, and universities to find a common path toward a workable IPR regime.

Entrepreneurship Development Issues and Opportunities

CIPE Pakistan, the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the MIT Enterprise Forum hosted a business policy roundtable titled “Entrepreneurship Development: Issues and Opportunities.” Dr. Ishrat Hussain, Dean of the Institute of Business Administration and former Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, were the chief guests, and discussions were led by M. A. Roomi, an international expert on the subject. Sixty-five participants from the business community, including female entrepreneurs, presented their recommendations and demanded that the government provide a level playing field and encourage a more entrepreneurial culture in Pakistan. Since the roundtable, the MIT Enterprise Forum has made significant progress by introducing a Business Acceleration Program in Pakistan that will incubate and encourage business growth.