Objectives of the Working Group
The DCED established the Business Environment Working Group (BEWG) in 2002 to share knowledge on donor-supported business environment reform (BER) in developing countries and to support good practice and new approaches. The Group helps agencies and their programme partners to effectively position business environment reform as a part of an integrated private sector development strategy and to enhance the synergies between these reforms and broader development objectives. It is currently chaired by Sylvia Solf of the World Bank Group, and Moussa Traore of USAID.
The DCED defines the business environment as a complex of policy, legal, institutional, and regulatory conditions that govern business activities. It is a sub-set of the investment climate and includes the administration and enforcement mechanisms established to implement government policy, as well as the institutional arrangements that influence the way key actors operate (e.g., government agencies, regulatory authorities, and business membership organisations including businesswomen associations, civil society organisations, trade unions, etc.)
The Working Group has produced a video introduction to the Business Environment Reform approach:
Working Group publications
New publications are listed first; older ones are listed at the bottom of the page.
Conflict and Informality
- Technical report: Dealing with Informality in Conflict and Fragile Settings, 2023. Considers the approach of donor and development agencies in dealing with business environment issues around informal firms in conflict and fragile settings, emphasizing the importance of security, access to infrastructure and information technology, social protection, and governance.
Global Value Chains
- Technical report: Roles of the Business Environment in Global Value Chains, 2023. Considers how the business environment can support positive integration and upgrading of formal firms in global value chains. Chain characteristics are examined by industry and sector, and roles of the business environment, institutions and investment policies are outlined, including discussion of the importance of regional trade agreements.
Legal Identification for Women
- Policy brief: With an ID in Hand, Women Have More Economic Opportunities, 2023. A 9-page summary based on the findings of the technical report below.
- Technical report: With an ID in Hand, Women Have More Economic Opportunities, 2023. Explores the challenges presented by the ‘orphan issue’ of a lack of legal IDs for women and provides a set of practical recommendations and good practices for policymakers and programmers. Current provision of IDs needs to be made more inclusive, by adapting the legal framework, designing policies with clear incentives for women, and creating a gender-sensitive administrative process. The report also includes two case studies, on digital ID, and ID provision for women refugees.
- Technical report: Enhancing the Use of Evidence and Results Measurement in Business Environment Reform Programming, 2022, corresponding guidance note, and short policy brief.
- Research paper: Leveraging Private Sector Practices to Guide Green Business Environment Reform, 2022. Examines why and how a selection of global firms have integrated climate and sustainability into their business strategies, practices, and models, and explores recommendations on how to best support BER and policy development for green growth.
BER and COVID-19 Responses
- Policy brief: Using Business Regulation in Re-opening the Economy following the COVID-19 Pandemic, 2021. Considers how policies and approaches in business regulation can be used to prepare for and during the re-opening of the economy.
- Policy brief: Lessons Learned on the Role of Business Regulation in Economic Recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic, 2021. Considers lessons learned from research on previous crises on the importance of a sound business regulatory environment for economic recovery and building resilience.
Dealing with Firm Informality
- Research paper: Dealing with Firm Informality, 2021. Reviews new and existing evidence on tools to reduce vulnerabilities of informal firms while supporting the transition towards formality.
Public Private Dialogue (PPD)
- Research paper: Public Private Dialogue (PPD) with the Use of New Technologies: A focus on feedback tools and their integration with data-driven policy reform, 2021. Considers how to create meaningful dialogue and collect feedback through the use of emerging technologies. (En français. En español.)
Business Environment Reform in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Situations
- Discussion paper: BER in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Situations, 2020. Considers how donor and development agencies can support business environment reform (BER) in fragile and conflict-affected situations (FCAS). In particular, how can humanitarian aid lay the foundation for longer-term reforms, so that the private sector can grow and create jobs? Practical recommendations are included for reformers to consider.
BER and Regulatory Delivery
- Policy brief: Use of New Technologies in Regulatory Delivery, 2020. Six-page brief summarising the findings of the study report below.
- Study report: Use of New Technologies in Regulatory Delivery, 2020. Explores how innovative technologies are influencing regulatory rule-making and regulatory delivery models, and presents detailed analysis of six case studies from around the world.
- Policy brief: Promoting Economic Transformation through Business Environment Reform and Market Systems Development, 2020. Eight-page brief synthesising the findings of the study report below and the companion report on market systems development.
- Study report: Promoting Economic Transformation through Business Environment Reform, 2019. Examines what Economic Transformation is and how BER might promote it, as well as providing current practices, challenges, and practical implications for donors. For the companion report on Promoting Economic Transformation through Market Systems Development, click here.
- Policy brief: Business Environment Reform and Investment Promotion, 2019. Three-page brief summarising the findings of the study report below.
- Study report: Business Environment Reform and Investment Promotion, 2019. Explores ongoing donor and development agency support in the area of BER and investment promotion and facilitation, and analyses its effectiveness in promoting private investment, both FDI and domestic investment. A recording of the webinar on this report in May 2020 is posted here.
Creating Better Business Environments for Micro and Small Enterprises
- Policy brief: Creating Better Business Environments for Micro and Small Enterprises, 2019. Four-page brief summarising the findings of the technical report below.
- Technical report: Creating Better Business Environments for Micro and Small Enterprises, 2018. Presents the results of a survey of donor and development agencies on their views and experiences in MSE-oriented business environment reform.
Additional, older Working Group publications are listed at the bottom of the page.
- Using BER to Build Back Better, available on YouTube, is a series of six webinars that took place throughout 2021. Involving experts from both the public and private sector, discussions cover a variety of topics around using business environment reform as a tool to increase resilience and ‘build back better’ after the COVID-19 pandemic, from managing vulnerability in the informal sector to taking public-private dialogue online.
Currently, the Group focuses on the following themes:
- BER and COVID-19 responses
- Dealing with informality
- The role of the business environment in integration into global value chains
- Legal identification for women
- The role of social dialogue
- Enhancing the use of evidence and results measurement in BER programming
- BER and climate change – sustainability
- Continuing the webinar series
- Meeting Minutes of the Business Environment Working Group
- DCED Business Environment Reform knowledge page, with key resources from a range of agencies
Older BEWG publications
Policies that Promote SME Participation in Public Procurement
- Policy brief: Policies that Promote SME Participation in Public Procurement, 2018. Four-page brief summarising the findings of the technical report below.
- Technical report: Policies that Promote SME Participation in Public Procurement, 2017. Analyses the various models of preferential treatment of SMEs in public procurement as well as their impacts and lessons learnt.
BER and Labour Productivity
- Policy brief: Business Environment Reform and Labour Productivity, 2018: Four-page brief summarising the findings of the technical report below.
- Technical report: Business Environment Reform and Labour Productivity, 2017: Explores the ways BER can contribute to labour productivity improvements as well as good practices and policies in this field.
How BER can Promote Formalisation
- Guidance: How BER can promote formalisation, DCED 2011. Focuses on how BER can address the informal economy and encourage the formalisation of informal enterprises. Also available in French and Spanish.
- Working paper: Business Environment Reforms and the Informal Economy, 2009. Explores lessons on how donor agencies can address the needs of the poor by implementing business environment reforms aimed at reducing informality. Click here for a French summary of the above paper.
- Annex to Practical Guidance: Gender and Business Environment Reform, DCED 2016. Focuses on how donor and development agencies can implement gender sensitive BER programmes.
- Policy Guide: Gender-Sensitive Business Environment Reform: Why does it matter? – A policy guide, 2017. Sets out the relevance of considering gender in BER; the relationship of gender-sensitive BER to women’s economic empowerment; and how donors can implement gender-sensitive BER.
- Case studies: Advancing Women’s Financial Inclusion through Gender-Sensitive BER, and Gender-Sensitive BER and Informality.
- Working paper: Business Environment Reform and Gender, 2016: Reviews in detail the business environment factors that have an impact on women’s economic opportunities and documents lessons learnt from BER programmes on identifying, measuring and managing gender issues in BER.
BER for Inclusive Business
- Scoping Working paper: How to create an enabling environment for inclusive business? Learning from experience and debates in private sector development, 2016. Summarises a very large body of emerging evidence on the theme, structuring it into key debates for further exploration.
Territorial and Sectoral Perspectives on BER
- Guidance: Supporting Local and Regional Business Environment Reforms, DCED, 2016. Offers guidance on how donor and development agencies can support Business Environment Reforms at local and regional levels.
- Working paper: A Review of Donor Agency Support for Regional and Local Business Environment Reform, 2016: Reviews agency experiences, advantages and disadvantages, and lessons learnt in supporting BER at regional (i.e. supra-national) and local (i.e. sub-national) levels.
- Guidance: Supporting Business Environment Reforms within Industry Sectors, DCED 2016. Explains how donor and development agencies can support Business Environment Reforms within industry sectors.
- Working paper: Supporting Sector-Focused Business Environment Reform in Developing Countries, 2015. Reviews common issues in how agencies support BER in specific industry sectors including Pharmaceuticals, Renewable Energy, Mining Sector (and small-scale suppliers), and Horticulture.
- Guidance: Supporting quality infrastructure in developing and transitional economies, DCED 2014 Synthesises key lessons on how donor agencies can support the development of the Quality Infrastructure in developing and transitional economies.
- Working paper: Leveraging the Impact of Business Environment Reform: The Contribution of Quality Infrastructure. Lessons from Practice, 2015. Offers an in-depth analysis of key lessons on how donor agencies can support the development of the Quality Infrastructure in developing countries.
Results Measurement in BER
- Guidance: Measuring Business Environment Reform, DCED 2013. Provides guidance how to measure donor-supported BER results. There is also an associated Sample list of indicators (in pdf and excel).
- Case studies: Measurement of Donor-Supported Business Environment Reform Results, 2013. Includes four case studies on the measurement of BER results across regional trade support, tax reform, business advocacy and public-private dialogue, and improving the regulatory framework for business registration.
How BER can be Complemented with Industrial Policy Support
- Guidance: How BER can be complemented with industrial policy support, DCED 2013. Gives advice on how BER can best be complemented with industrial policy support.
- Working paper: Strategic Industrial Policy and Business Environment Reform: Are they Compatible?, 2013. Addresses the compatibility of business environment reform and industrial policy approaches, and makes practical recommendations on how industrial policy can be applied.
The Political Economy of BER
- Working paper: The Political Economy of Business Environment Reform: An Introduction for Practitioners, 2011 Considers how political economy issues affect donors’ efforts to support business environment reform, and suggests ways which practitioners can address these issues. Click here for a French summary of the paper.
Original Donor Guidance on Supporting Business Environment Reform, 2008
Based on a series of conferences to identify areas of consensus and debate among donor and development agencies, the BEWG published Practical Guidance on Supporting Business Environment Reform in 2008. It represents the consolidated views of DCED member agencies on the key dimensions and principles of business environment reform support and summarises a number of contested issues. This seminal document is available in four languages.
- Supporting Business Environment Reforms. Practical Guidance for Development Agencies, DCED, 2008
- Le soutien aux réformes de l’environnement des entreprises. Guide pratique pour les agences de développement, CDDE, 2008
- Apoyo a las Reformas del Entorno Empresarial. Guía práctica para Agencias de Desarrollo, DCED, 2008
- إرشادات عملية لوكاالت التنمية دعم إصالحات بيئـة األعمال: Practical Guidance in Arabic
In 2010-11, the DCED conducted country-level reviews of donors’ programmes and practices bench-marked against the good practice summarised in the Donor Guidance.