Helping Build Democracy that Delivers

The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) supports reformers around the world who are advancing the cause of political and economic freedom. Democracy is the best hope for people everywhere to improve their lives. Since democracy flourishes in market economies, CIPE recognizes the vital role of the private sector in building prosperous, free societies. CIPE has found ways to nurture independent voices of reform among private sector partners. CIPE’s proven advocacy strategies and capacity-building programs for business associations aid democratic development on two fronts. The first is the creation of effective, responsive institutions for good policies and good governance. The second is the grassroots involvement of all types of businesspeople who take ownership of the reform process itself.

Why is the business community important to democratic development? In a democracy, all parts of society must count, and businesspeople too must be free to express themselves politically. Often a majority of legitimate business interests are not represented in the political process. This is because business does not operate as a single entity. While a handful of powerful business elites and cronies may monopolize access to the government, smaller firms, competitive firms, and informal entrepreneurs will have very different interests (see figure 1). This broader business community must become engaged in the reform process to ensure that fair competition prevails and business involvement in politics is open and clean. Fair economic competition strengthens business diversity and pluralism, which creates a strong context for healthy political competition and checks on government power. Democracy flourishes in countries with open economies; equal opportunity; and responsible, prosperous businesses.

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Center for International Private Enterprise
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