Europe and Central Asia
Tech startups and business angels are not what comes to mind when thinking of the Czech Republic (CR). Instead, this small central European country is known for its beer, scenic bridges crossing the Vltava river, and existential writers. Not so easy to add “vibrant entrepreneurial hub” to the list as it celebrates the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia. Nevertheless, that's exactly what the CR policymakers intend to do.
CR has what it takes to be an entrepreneurial hub for Central Europe
But the stories of the top-earning soccer stars living a glamorous life of wealth tend to make us forget that most athletes are not wealthy enough to retire when their careers end and find themselves facing the same challenges as everyone else looking to change professions.
On 11 October 2018, the World Bank launched its Human Capital Index, which quantifies the contribution of health and education to the productivity of the next generation of workers. The Index is part of the Human Capital Project, a global effort to accelerate more and better investments in people. Belarus didn’t participate in the Index this year.
Back in 1440, King Henry VI of England founded a college for poor scholars, providing a free education for boys whose families couldn’t afford to pay. At that time, the young students learned to read and write so that they could later work as administrators in the royal court.
A few centuries later, in 1977, I became one of “King Henry’s scholars”. I’m not working for a king, of course, but I recognize how lucky I am to have benefited from Henry’s medieval investment in human capital. One could perhaps call him a “very early adopter”.
These days, investing in people makes more economic sense than ever. Human capital – the knowledge, skills, and health that people accumulate throughout their lives – accounts for up to 68% of a country’s overall wealth, on average. In the case of Belarus, where I now live, the share of human capital in the country’s total wealth is somewhat lower, at 49.2%.
Celebrating his 60th birthday recently, my father chatted with me about his career and getting his first job. He graduated as an engineer in the 1970s in Austria and faced very different employment opportunities to those I faced some decades later. There were five construction firms, all just around the corner from his home, to which he could apply for a job at that time.
When I finished graduate school in 2016, I applied for work with organizations in five different countries around the world. Suffice to say, the labor market in which my generation is competing is vastly different and far more globalized than the one my dad faced.
A few weeks ago, The Economist published an article on economic governance that discussed the importance of public sector accounting. It recognized the importance of maintaining existing public-sector assets and investment in new ones. These assets, according to an IMF study, account for a significant portion of GDP. But, the article asserts, filling potholes and repairing bridges are not as politically appealing as flashy new infrastructure, and few economies engage in robust public-sector accounting that demonstrates the net worth of these assets.
Maybe if governments and citizens understood the value of their public assets, they’d be inclined to invest in their maintenance – avoiding waste and even catastrophic accidents when poor infrastructure fails?
What exactly is procurement, you may ask? If you google the word, you’ll likely find several different definitions.
Essentially, procurement is about buying things. That sounds quite simple, of course, but it becomes much more complicated at the level of government buying, especially when complex risks and variables must also be considered. So, is there a way to simplify government procurement?
investment in quality, sustainable infrastructure helps finance the transition towards a low-carbon, more environmentally friendly economic model. This happens notably in the renewable energy and low-emission transport sectors. Given the scale of resources needed to address the infrastructure investment gap, mobilizing the private sector for this goal has become imperative, especially in countries where financial transactions in banking and capital markets follow Islamic law (or shari’ah) principles.
They define an asset-oriented system of ethical financial intermediation built on the principles of risk-sharing in lawful activities (halal) rather than rent-seeking gains. This “entrepreneurial” approach by investors requires a high degree of transparency and creates incentives to monitor projects more carefully, which, in turn, strengthen the efficiency in building and operating infrastructure.
Across the globe, more than 20 million children from conflict-affected countries are out of school.
Take Syrian refugees in Turkey, the country that hosts more individuals fleeing from armed conflict than any other in the world.