THE WORLD BANK GLOBAL INDICATORS GROUP’S annual “Doing Business 2017: Equal Opportunity for All” finds that the world’s economies are becoming friendlier to small and medium-sized enterprises. This result is due largely to key reforms adopted by 137 national economies around the world—a record number in the report’s 14-year history.
More than 75 of the 283 reforms documented by the “Doing Business” report were adopted by developing countries—of those, more than 25 percent were in sub-Saharan Africa. The ten countries on the report’s “top 10 improvers” list include Brunei Darussalam, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Belarus, Indonesia, Serbia, Georgia, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain.
The report noted examples that reflect improvements in the ease of doing business in the world now compared to a decade ago:
- The time to start a new business now stands at a global average of 21 days, down from 46 days.
- Businesses in the Philippines now make 28 payments to settle their taxes, compared to 48 payments.
- Businesses in Rwanda now require only 12 days to register a property transfer, compared to 370 days.
Even so, hurdles to entrepreneurship still exist, especially for women. In 23 economies, the report finds, married women must complete more steps than men to start businesses, and 16 limit women’s ability to own, use, and transfer property. While several countries in the Middle East and North Africa made the report’s “top 10 improvers” list, 70 percent of economies in these regions create barriers for women starting businesses.
“Government policy plays a huge role in the daily operations of domestic small and medium-sized firms, and onerous regulation can divert the energies of entrepreneurs away from developing their businesses or innovating,” says Augusto Lopez-Claros, who serves as director of World Bank’s Global Indicators
The purpose of the annual Doing Business survey, he adds, is “to encourage regulation that is designed to be smart, efficient, accessible, and simple.”
The report and its datasets are available at www.doingbusiness.org.