Each CEI industrial and agricultural mission introduces participants to one or more trade associations in the U.S. As a direct result of that experience, several groups have returned and established their own associations. Most participants had not previously worked with others in their own industry and thus had not gained the benefits an association can bring to its members. Most CEI study tour participants now enjoy the benefits that working together can bring.
In most countries, most of the national legislative acts concern the regulation of economic relations. Specifically, a great number of them regulate entrepreneurial activity. Businesspeople attempt to influence the law-making process so that legal regulations support and stimulate development of their businesses as well as the economic development of the country.
Success in Ukraine
A number of associations have been established as a direct result of the CEI study tour program. These include: architects, construction companies, aquaculture, and agriculture organizations. CEI has provided training and guidance on such points as organizational structure, leadership, lobbying, industry standards, and dues assessment. In the case of construction, entire industry practices have been changed to allow for the issuance of public requests for proposals and competitive bids. As a result, all companies are able to get a fair share of the available work.
Objective of Associations
Businesspeople form business associations whose main objective is to represent and protect their common interests. The services most business associations offer are similar – providing information, training services, advice, organizing meetings to exchange views, assisting members in conflict situations, and representing members’ interests to the authorities at all levels. The goals and services of business associations depend mostly on their members’ needs and on external conditions. However, more and more business associations are beginning to realize that in order to effectively develop a favorable economic environment, associations need to influence the law-making process.
How can CEI help?
CEI can provide technical assistance to selected business associations to help develop self-certification programs for personnel, processes, and products in the industries they represent. As the state reduces its regulation of the economy, there will be an increasing need for private-sector-led organizations to establish market-oriented quality standards and certification.
Assistance in self-certification will strengthen the capacity of business associations to align the competencies of the local workforce to the real market demand for skills. Self certification also can and assist businesses to participate in the international marketplace by demonstrating that services and products meet international industry standards of competence and quality and that systems to certify services and products conform with international standards for certification, such as the International Standardization Organization (ISO). Targeted technical assistance to associations will educate them on how to develop certification programs and concurrently help them identify existing industry-specific certification standards, trainings and assessment programs that might be utilized and/or adapted for use at home.
CEI can assist business associations to explore the feasibility of:
using a uniform international certification standards
licensing agreements between foreign and local associations
exporting certification from other countries
implementing steps to establish international partnerships that are mutually beneficial for all parties
Assistance to develop advocacy skills
CEI will help business associations develop advocacy skills. Business associations will be shown how to engage government at various levels (to work together on local and national development strategies, tax regimes, administrative reforms, and any other point of interaction between government and business) to ensure that the business environment meets the needs of the business community. For example, business associations can gauge the economic damage and tax revenue leakage created by illicit activities and recommend regulatory, legislative and enforcement measures that contribute to increased transparency and legal compliance. As a result, revenue enhancement will occur in the respective sectors.
Assistance to business associations
CEI can support business associations and other institutions to transfer skills to SMEs and stimulate adoption of good business practices and a culture of entrepreneurship. Through technical assistance and grants, business associations will be supported to undertake export promotion and investment promotion activities and to promote fiduciary standards and regulations, thereby building valuable SME skills while generating an immediate return. CEI activity will also provide technical assistance to business associations and other institutions that train SMEs to apply for credit and provide accurate and reliable information to lenders.
Business associations aware of the downside of not being involved in the legislative process are beginning to address the problem professionally and create mechanisms within their organization that can function effectively at any time. This includes, above all, the appointment of persons from among the group whose immediate responsibilities are to protect the rights and represent the interests of the members of their organization, using a certain set of tools. The appointed persons become representatives that work on behalf of their organizations, speaking out for their interests during the development of regulatory acts and other activities in order to influence the attitude of decision makers.
There is quite a long list of tools that business associations and their representatives may use to exert influence upon decision-makers. This extensive list can be divided into two parts; tools that involve direct influence and those that rely on indirect influence. Direct influence is exerted with the help of the following tools:
Meetings with lawmakers
Discussion of certain issues during personal conversations
Providing such information to lawmakers