To this day, ICPE remains the sole intergovernmental organization headquartered in Slovenia. 40 years ago, on 24 April 1974, ICPE was established as the International Center for Public Enterprises in Developing Countries by the Government of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, following the initiative of the United Nations (UN) and with the support of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

Today, ICPE’s role and potentials are being timely rediscovered. ICPE now acts as a hub which brings together the knowledge from the diverse corners of the world and is at the same time an open network which can provide meaningful support to the internationalization of national economies.

24 April 1974

It was the time of rapid changes in the world, a time of decolonization and a vision of economic progress. In 1961, the Non-Aligned Movement was formally launched in Belgrade (Yugoslavia) as an alternative to the existing networks of the super-powers. It was a time of enthusiasm, emerging new states in the wake of decolonization and an orientation towards the “New International Economic Order” which strived to reach fair and economically balanced relations between the “developed” and the “developing” worlds. Strong and efficient public enterprises proved to be one of the key pillars of good governance and building of the economies in the relatively fragile and weak countries of the global “South”. ICPE,  then the International Center for Public Enterprises in Developing Countries, grew on these ideas. In March 1976, 30 countries and 9 observers participated in an international conference in Ljubljana where it was decided that ICPE would transform into an intergovernmental organization of its member states.


From the very first years, ICPE's story was one that promised success. Its initial programs, seminars and trainings had a high participation rate. Already in 1974, representatives of 32 countries were present at the seminar on Planning in public enterprises, urging ICPE to become an intergovernmental organization. There was an obvious need for knowledge sharing among the developing countries, in the field of public enterprises in particular.

1974: “Planning in Public Enterprises”

1975: “Education in Public Enterprises”

1975: “Financing and Management in Public Enterprises”

1976: “Self-management and Participation of Workers in Public Enterprises«(comparatively in 14 countries)

1977: “The Role of Public Sector in Developing Countries”

1977: “Women as a Factor of Development in Public Enterprises” (comparatively in 12 countries)

1978: “Management of Development and Transfer of Technologies”


ICPE has been publishing the quarterly journal Public Enterprise for over 30 years. Research results, conference proceedings and thematic issues were regularly printed and distributed among the member states, international organizations and wider. ICPE has produced over 50 other publications, several of them in cooperation with other organizations, e.g. International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the World Bank.

In fact, the publishing activities were recognized as so important by the member states and the public enterprises, which made most use of them in an applied manner, that a special division within ICPE was focusing on ICPE's deliverables and dissemination of research and project results. Furthermore, the member states urged ICPE to translate its findings and for a period of time, the Public Enterprise was published in all four official languages of ICPE at the time (Arabic, English, French, and Spanish).


Strong cooperation with other international organizations helped ICPE to maintain the high level of expertise, gain additional trust from its member states and widen the scope of its influence.

Especially during the first 10 years, considerable support was provided to ICPE by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). In 1982, ICPE received the status of UNDP executive agency.

In 1978, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between ICPE and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO),  and cooperation thrived throughout the 1980s (trainings, seminars, workshops).

ICPE established strong links with other agencies, inter alia with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), International Trade Center (ITC), jointly organizing a high-profile conference on State Trading Organizations in 1982, which led to the establishment of  the International Association of State Trading Organizations of Developing Countries (ASTRO).

Continuously, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) extended its support to the work of ICPE, mentioning it explicitly in the NAM Summits and encouraging the NAM members to join ICPE.


Most of the projects from the initial period of operation were continuedor even expanded. The number of funding sources also increased in the early 1980s. Until then, the operation of the Center was mostly financed by the Government of SFR Yugoslavia and the Government of the SR Slovenia with the support of UNDP. After 1980, in addition to membership fees, funds were still available from UNDP and UNIDO, while additional grants were received from supporting countries such as the Netherlands, Canada and Sweden.

The OPTIMA Program was launched in 1981 as a series of activities for improvement of public enterprises and was delivered in 14 countries in Africa, Asia and South America. OPTIMA was the ICPE’s flagship program in the 1980s.

Public Enterprise Management and Development Planning programs (6—18 months duration) were conducted by ICPE in the framework of the Nationhood Program of the UN Council for Namibia, and between 1980 and 1984 over 200 Namibian students attended training at ICPE.

Since 1986, a series of seminars was organized in cooperation with the Economic Development Institute (EDI) of the World Bank(now World Bank Institute).

In 1990, ICPE ran a UNDP management development program for high representatives of Mongolia.

1989/90 ICPE MBA

During the academic year 1989—1990, the ICPE MBA program was launched in partnership with the Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana (FELU). In the 21 years that followed, more than 650 candidates from 45 countries attended the program. It was the first international program of this kind in the wider region of South-Eastern Europe and succeeded in bringing together promising cadres from Asia, Africa and Latin America, many of whom later took important posts within their own countries or in international organizations. In 2010 the existing MBA program was discontinued and a new, Green Industry MBA programme in cooperation with the Jozef Stefan International Postgraduate School was conducted in the academic year 2010/11. In the academic year 2013/14 the ICPE-FELU MBA program was re-established and was executed in the 2014/15 academic year also. In view of lack of response from countries other than India, the ICPE Council decided that programme is unsustainable and was discontinued. It was decided to launch another MBA programme in partnership with FELU and Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI), Hyderabad in 2015. The programme has since been postponed by ASCI and is scheduled to begin in September 2016.


ICPE wouldnot be what it was in the past and what it might be tomorrow, if it were not for ICPE's people.

For over a decade, ICPE was run by Executive Director, Mr. Žiga Vodušek, while Mr. Anton Vratuša, PhD,  the then Vice-President of the Federal Executive Council of Yugoslavia, was one of the key initiators for the establishment of the Centre; he was first the ProgramDirector and then the President of the ICPE Council between 1974 and 1982, while he remains the Honorary President of the Council until this day.

Many important statesmen from other member states occupied key positions within the Center, especially representatives of the Government of India, who ran ICPE from either of the two main posts for many years  (e.g. Mr. C. Subramaniam and Mr. G. Parthasarathy).


Although it was already in the 1980s that the financial support from the UN agencies was ceasing and the membership decreasing, it wasnot until the 1990s, that ICPE had to dramatically adapt its programs. If officially ICPE still had 40 member states by the end of the 1980s, their membership was more or less pro forma in the 1990s when many of these countries were facing political and economic challenges.

After the break-up of Yugoslavia, the newly independent Republic of Slovenia took over the responsibilities and became ICPE’s host country in 1992.

ICPE has continued some projects in the fields of human resources development, SMEs management, and franchising. Still, several programs ran in cooperation with other international organizations (e.g. UNIDO).

The ICPE– FELU MBA program ran throughout the 1990s, though, continuing to attract students from four continents. 


In 1997 the formal name of the Center was changed into the International Center for Promotion of Enterprises – ICPE, by a Resolution of the Center’s Assembly. In line with a new vision for the Center’s future, a new version of the ICPE Statute was also proposed. These actions tried to give the Center a more inclusive and broad-based mandate, keeping up with the changed economic and political priorities of the new host country, Slovenia, and many of the leading member states, which remained active within the center, most notably India. 

21st Century

By the end of the first decade of the new century, important new steps were made in the direction of reviving the Center’s activities, and responding to the actual needs of its current member states (counting 19 at the time).

ICPE organized several high-end events, e.g. the Symposium on Future Challenges of Public Enterprises (2010), and a High-Level Meeting of the State Ownership Authorities (2011), which managed to attract speakers from 26 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. ICPE also strengthened its long-term efforts focused to the principle of sustainable development (e.g. research and educational work on the project of Integrated Coastal Management, 1990s) with an International Conference on Integrated Environmental Management of the Adriatic/Mediterranean Black Sea Coastal Areas and the Danube/Sava River Basins in 2010 and a conference on Management of Protected Nature Areas (2011).

But of key importance was the Memorandum of Cooperation between the host country — the Government of Slovenia and  the ICPE (December 2011), laying a firm ground for the re-building and revitalization of the international Center. The Memorandum defined the key areas of cooperation,  e.g.  international postgraduate education programs, economic diplomacy seminars for member states, green industry management, promotion of Slovenian scientific and technological achievements, international development cooperation, cooperation with other international organizations, internationalization of Slovenian economy and cooperation with other member states in the field of development, sustainable development etc.


Important milestones were reached in the recent period

  • The International MBA Program in partnership with the Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana, was re-launched in 2013 after a several-year break, holding two international accreditations (EQUIS and AACSB).
  • The cooperation with the Government of Republic of Slovenia was further strengthened: the Inter-ministerial Working Group for cooperation with ICPE was launched and several programs were delivered as a part of the Memorandum with the Government of Slovenia.
  • The close cooperation with the Government of India was renewed, the President of the ICPE Council in the period until December 2013 being  Mr. OP Rawat, Government of India, which was succeded by Ms. Kusumjit Sidhu, DPE Secretary, Government of India.
  • The particularly successful was the re-establishment of the partnership with UNIDO. The Professional Development Program on Sustainable Energy Solutions took place in November 2013, firming ICPE's role in the field of energy efficiency and education. The Director of the UNIDO Energy and Climate Change Branch, Mr. Pradeep Monga, PhD, became the first ICPE Alumni Club President as an ICPE MBA graduate. Also, Mr. Janez Podobnik, ICPE Acting Director General and Mr. Li Yong, UNIDO Director General signed a Joint Communique in order to intensify the cooperation between ICPE and UNIDO on December 18, 2013.
  • Furthermore, ICPE became ITU (International Telecommunication Union)-D Sector Member in December 2012 as well as joined the UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) Virtual Institute in February 2013.
  • Cooperation was also renewed with the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) - e.g.the International Training Program on Wastewater Management and Solar Energy was carried out by ICPE in February 2014 - as well as with the UN Conference on Trade and Development—e.g. the Symposium on UNCTAD Information Economy Report.
  • Short-term training programs were revitalized and in 2013 two programs were delivered for the Government of India officials, one on Budgeting, Accounting and Financial Management and another on e-Governance.
  • ICPE organized several successful events. Four conferences tackled the issue of energy efficiency, environment and public-private partnerships, two of which took place in Slovenia (one in partnership with International Congress of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Russia), one in India (Hyderabad, with the Institute of Public Enterprise) and one in Nigeria (Ogun State, with the UPLIFT Development Foundation), bringing together worldwide experts. The annual Africa Day event, in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia, the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Club of Former Slovenian Ambassadors, and the African Forum, will see its third edition in May 2014, providing a growing platform for diplomatic and economic relations between Africa and Europe, thus filling a gap in this part of the world. Following the immense success of the second Economic Diplomacy and Internationalization conference in 2013, a third edition is taking place in June 2014, this time in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Today, ICPE’s focus is on providing high-quality programs to its member states, particularly in the fields of good governance, efficient public sector, energy issues, economic diplomacy, and internationalization of national economies.