UNDP Around the world

Voices from Eurasia

Governance and peacebuilding

Crowdfunding for small businesses: what’s the story?

21 Jul 2017 by Robert Pašičko, Marina Petrović and Milica Begović, UNDP Alternative Finance Lab

We selected 12 entrepreneurs and helped turn their vision into a crowdfunding campaign. Photo: UNDP
Our experience taught us that crowdfunding is not just a new funding method. It’s also a tool to engage communities; a powerful outreach and advocacy mechanism; and a way to create new business models and use new technologies for tackling social problems. Can it be applied for funding small and medium enterprises (SME)? Donating money can help buy a blanket for one person in need. But crowdfunding a small business can help it to produce affordable blankets for hundreds of people in need. This can contribute to building a whole ecosystem of supporters and ambassadors, serving as a powerful leapfrog. This year, we’re trying to see whether crowdfunding can help small entrepreneurs access funding where mainstream banking is prohibitively expensive. We started with Ukraine. Our recovery programmes there have one challenging task: to inspire people from war-affected areas, many of whom worked all their life in mines and factories, to become entrepreneurs. … Read more

7 things we learned about tackling displacement in the Western Balkans

20 Jun 2017 by Susanna Dakash, Youth and Civic Engagement Consultant, UNDP Europe and Central Asia

A refugee family in fYR Macedonia. Photo: UNHCR
In 2015, 900,000 refugees and migrants crossed through Southeast Europe in the largest displacement of people since World War II. Many crossed from Greece to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia on their way to northern Europe. Most towns on that route were taken by surprise. Many didn’t have the doctors, food stocks, waste capacity, or sufficient housing to handle hundreds of thousands of additional people. Their whole approach to planning was suddenly upended. And many refugees ended up staying for months. Displacement in this region is not a new phenomenon. But over the last two years, we’ve learned a great deal about how to deal not just with the humanitarian side of displacement, but with the long-term impact. … Read more

Can parliaments transform societies?

22 May 2017 by Jonathan Murphy, Senior Advisor, Parliamentary Development, UNDP Ukraine

Parliaments are at the heart of many debates on how to make democracies work. Yet in many countries they rank near the bottom of all institutions trusted by the public. In only four of 15 established democracies in the Europe and Central Asia region did at least half of voters express trust in parliament. Parliaments are often the only national institutions directly elected by citizens. By definition, then, parliaments hold the heart of citizens’ hopes for representative, effective, transparent, democracies. Parliaments are the place where diverse views are expressed, and where decisions are reached collectively. They debate and vote state budgets, ensuring these are invested in the right areas, and spent effectively. … Read more

How can we promote respect for LGBTI rights in Albania?

21 Apr 2017 by Nora Kushti, Communication & Advocacy Expert, UNDP & UN Albania

Gay Pride Parade in Tirana. Photo: UNDP Albania
Since the political and social transformation of the ‘90s, Albania has been working to put in place a system to secure human rights for all. As a candidate country for EU membership, one of the five priorities set for Albania entails re-formulation of the Criminal Code provisions regarding hate speech, discrimination, as well as the amendment of the Family Code. Among measures undertaken to comply with EU requirements is the adoption by Parliament of a comprehensive non-discrimination law that includes the protection of sexual orientation and gender identity. But in my country, implementation of laws is always under constant need of improvement. … Read more

How do you inspire entrepreneurship in a conflict-affected region?

12 Apr 2017 by Janthomas Hiemstra, UNDP Ukraine Country Director and Sofiya Oshchebska, National Coordinator - Crowdfunding Academy, UNDP Ukraine

Pavlo, 71, is a, blacksmith from Lugansk and will open his new workshop in Kharkiv region. Photo: UNDP Ukraine
The armed conflict in eastern Ukraine has not only disrupted everyday life in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, but also led to staggering unemployment. Out of 23 major enterprises in Luhansk region, 19 are currently not operating, while half of the enterprises in Donetsk region have lost about 950,000 jobs. Supporting employment is challenging in the best of circumstances, and far more so in conflict situations. How do you talk about the benefits of entrepreneurship to people who lost everything and, after being displaced, are just trying to find their place in a new community? At UNDP Ukraine’s Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme, we have an ambitious goal: to promote entrepreneurship in Donbas, inspire people who worked all their life in mines and factories to step in the unsure path of entrepreneurship, and make them believe in themselves and their country again. So we decided to start by showing the joy of creating and developing your own business through the stories of ordinary people. Stories of people like us who, despite all the difficulties, have succeeded. … Read more

20 years of mine action progress, but not yet in the clear

03 Apr 2017 by Olaf Juergensen, Mine Action and Development Specialist, UNDP Eurasia

deminers in Bosnia Deminers at work in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo: UNDP Bosnia and Herzegovina
My earliest personal encounter with landmines occurred in Mozambique in 1994, shortly after its brutal 17-year civil war came to end. I was conducting research in a remote district of Tete Province, close to the Malawi border, to learn how communities remaining in the country coped with the daily threats of violence and deprivation. The war created 2 million refugees and 5 million internally displaced persons. With the peace agreement holding, people slowly returned home to begin the difficult work of rebuilding their lives. But they were greeted by an estimated 2 million landmines. I travelled many of same routes as the returnees and often wondered about the presence of mines, but lacking awareness, I didn’t alter my routine or attitude to the risks. After an accident involving a truck in a WFP convoy that struck an anti-vehicle mine only 100 metres from a food distribution point, I realized the risks. … Read more

When it comes to the lives of LGBTI people, dialogue can save lives

21 Mar 2017 by Seda Karaca and John Macauley

gay pride tiranaEven though progress is on its way, many LGBTI members suffer discrimination across the region. Photo: Albinfo/Wikipedia
It is not news that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people face discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity around the world. The situation is no better in Eastern Europe. Opinion survey from Western Balkans conducted in 2015 reveals staggering results: 50 percent of the respondents think “a child cannot become gay in normal families”;25 percent of the surveyed say “gay people are no better than criminals”; More than 50 percent perceive homosexuality as a sickness; Around 30 percent admit that they would stop communication after discovering a friend to be LGBTI. There have been several attacks against gay men in Prishtina. In 2016, 5 attacks happened in a row in Belgrade against LGBTI persons, including a prominent activist. It’s worth noting that only two of these attacks were reported to the police. This raises the issue of lack of trust in authorities among LGBTI communities. … Read more

Can we track disasters before they happen?

17 Mar 2017 by Aida Hadzic-Hurem, UNDP BiH, Disaster Risk Reduction Project Manager

disaster mitigation - BiHHave you tried DRAS? Check it out and let us know what you think in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.
In May 2014, Bosnia and Herzegovina was hit by devastating floods causing loss of human life, and damages and losses of 2 billion EUR. In the midst of the tragedy, all of us were proud of the exceptional assistance that UNDP provided to the ones that needed it the most. Our staff worked tirelessly and efficiently to deliver much needed relief, putting in place recovery programs worth close to 80 million USD. As UNDP, we also used the momentum to start creating awareness that poor development decisions can worsen the impact of disasters. Disaster Risk Analysis System (DRAS) was hence born out of the understanding that disaster risk management cannot happen with civil protection measures alone. … Read more

In Moldova, we can make investigative journalism great again. Here's how.

20 Feb 2017 by Olga Crivoliubic, Project Manager, UNDP Moldova and Mariana Rata, Journalist

anti-corruption drawingJournalists gather in Moldova. Photo: UNDP Moldova / Mircea Zatusevschi
Corruption offences often remain unexposed; investigative journalists often put themselves at high risk to shed light on these crimes. That’s why, last year as UNDP in Moldova we partnered with the National Anticorruption Centre to organise a contest for the best journalistic investigations on corruption. In publicly recognising the strongest journalistic efforts, we aimed to bring further awareness to their work. Read the testimony of Mariana Rata, a reputable investigative journalist who takes an in-depth look at the challenges faced by investigative journalism in Moldova. If investigative journalism today exists in the Republic of Moldova at all, it exists only as ‘connected’ to the oxygen mask of external donors. Investigative journalism is an expensive product due to the amount of time and material resources it requires (including access to databases and public registries.) Indeed, no newspaper can afford an investigative journalist unless they are paid from the funds provided by external partners for different projects. … Read more

Prototyping the government of the future in Armenia

24 Jan 2017 by Marina Mkhitaryan, Max Perry-Wilson, Hasmik Soghomonyan

Innovation
No matter where you live, reforming how the public sector operates is a difficult task. How do we ensure that public services are designed to be as effective and accessible as possible? How do we make government agile and responsive in the face of black swans and wicked challenges? How do we develop a bureaucracy that handles a myriad of tasks as efficiently as possible? In post-Soviet contexts, this challenge is even greater. In the Soviet era, a top-down hierarchy rarely rewarded risk-taking and experimentation, a sentiment that is still too common today. Our own research in Armenia shows that experts fear “rocking the boat” with new ideas without say-so from a higher-up. This results in a channel of creativity that flows only from the top down, leading to services that do not account for citizens’ voices. After all, public sector innovation is not only about listening to citizens’ voices – it is also about optimising working process and getting your big bureaucracy to work effectively and efficiently. … Read more