Rob Katz

Let’s Get (BoP Businesses) Started in Here: Doing Business 2008 Released

NextBillion ally Chris Monasterski, editor of the excellent PSD Blog, wrote me a short e-mail this evening alerting me to the release of the 2008 Doing Business rankings.? This year marks the fifth edition of the annual rankings, which measures the ease of doing business in 178 countries worldwide.

Anyone interested in BoP business ought to pay close attention to the Doing Business reports.? After all, many companies tell NextBillion that one major impediment to launching a BoP initiative is the “business environment.”? Of course, the rankings are really designed to help us understand how easy it is to create a local business in a specific country – not initiate a BoP pilot or subsidiary there.? There may be a hidden lesson in these rankings, however – if you’re interested in pursuing BoP markets, your best bet might be to work with and support the local small and medium sized business community.In any case, back to the data.? Three countries – Brunei, Liberia, and Luxembourg – are new to the rankings this year.? The methodology is largely the same, using surveys to assess the ease of startup, licensing, employment, property registration, credit, investor protection, taxes, cross-border trade, contract enforcement, and business close.? (In short – business environment, sans infrastructure and macro-level policy.)? First and last remain the same from 2007 – Singapore and Democratic Republic of Congo, respectively.

The real story, as it was last year, are the countries that are improving within the rankings.? Chris identifies Egypt as the top reformer, along with Croatia and Ghana.? Who failed to change?? Not surprisingly, Zimbabwe and Venezuela lead this ignominious group.

The press release has some interesting insights on the interaction between the Doing Business report and the role of women:

Higher rankings on the ease of doing business are associated with higher percentages of women among entrepreneurs and employees. ?Greater regulatory reform has especially large benefits for women,? said Caralee McLiesh, an author of the report. ?Women often face regulations that may be aimed at protecting them but are counterproductive in effect, forcing them into the informal sector. There women have little job security and few social benefits.? In the Democratic Republic of Congo, where women need their husbands? consent to start a business, they run only 18 percent of small businesses. In neighboring Rwanda, which has no such regulations, women run more than 41 percent of small businesses.

Check out the full report, as well as the rankings, at the Doing Business web site.

Via PSD Blog.