Panel Exploring New and Innovative Opportunities for Growth and Investment
On January 15th the MENA Initiative hosted a panel discussion focused on the new investment opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa. MENA Initiative Director Bradley Bosserman moderated the wide ranging conversation.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Naz Ash highlighted some of the exciting work that the State Department is doing to support entrepreneurship in the region, while articulating the critical role that economic statecraft plays in supporting US interests abroad.
Leslie Jump presented a robust vision of the exciting and fast-growing start-up culture that her venture capital fund is supporting. She discussed the opportunities and challenges presented by investing in early stage companies in the region and touched on her firm’s innovative new entrepreneurship accelerator in Cairo.
Phillip Blumberg explained how his company is overcoming hurdles in order to bring their proprietary new agriculture technology to market in North Africa and the Middle East. He shared his unique experience of doing business in the region and argued that many more opportunities can be made available by effectively aligning US policy with the needs of private sector firms interested in long-term regional investments.
Two Major Events on Civil Society, Economic Growth, and Middle East Transition
In the midst of the tragic events in Libya, NDN’s MENA Initiative hosted two events featuring senior State Department officials, a leading academic on Islamist governance, and experts in public-private partnerships.
On September 11th Ambassador William Taylor spoke to a standing-room-only crowd about the U.S. Middle East strategy. Amb. Taylor serves as the Special Coordinator for Middle East Transitions and overseas all American assistance to the post-Arab Spring countries. He was joined by Dr. Nathan Brown, one of the most well-respected scholars of Islamist governance in Egypt, who discussed how U.S. policy can adapt to working with new Arab partners. And finally, Mickey Bergman explained how public-private partnerships – like those he manages through the Aspen Institute – can play a major role in building prosperous Middle Eastern states. A delegation of 25 high school students from Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt also took part in the program.
The Project on Middle East Democracy published a more in-depth summary of their remarks which is available here.
And on Thursday, September 13th, Dr. Tomicah Tillemann presented his exciting work at the State Department building civil society in emerging democracies. With so much discussion of post-conflict nations being focused on political development, the vital role of civil society and economic development is too often overlooked. You can learn more about the projects Dr. Tillemann coordinates through Secretary Clinton’s Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society.
U/S Hormats Discusses Middle East Economic Strategy at NDN
NDN’s new MENA Initiative hosted Under Secretary of State Robert Hormats on June 26th. U/S Hormats overseas all Economic, Energy, and Environmental policy at the State Department and has been at the very center of formulating and implementing the American economic response to the Arab Spring. In his remarks, he highlighted the important – if under reported – efforts undertaken by the State Department to support economic growth throughout the region. He also emphasized the importance of projects like NDN’s MENA Initiative for building stronger support for a more expansive economic growth strategy in these transition countries.
Ultimately, a stable, prosperous, and democratic region is in all of our interests. The region requires stability and patience is needed by its own people and by us because some changes take a considerable amount of time. We have to support them as new democracies. Contrary to what some have said, the Arab Spring has not turned into an Arab Winter. Much progress has been made. And there are many many opportunities for us to play a constructive role. We have to work with the people and understand their desires – and have specific and constructive measures to put on the table. Rhetoric will not suffice; concrete support is needed on financing, trade, and support for SMEs.
Despite progress in key areas- growth in the region has not been inclusive.
Quite simply, many people in the region have not had the opportunity to participate productively in their economies or their societies. This is a challenge that we, and the new governments, have to address. Providing more people with the opportunity to participate productively in their economies and benefit from them will lead to greater and more broadly based prosperity but also to a sounder base for political and social reforms.
The full transcript of U/S Hormats’ remarks is available here.