Overview of the Business Environment Working Group

Objectives of the group

The DCED established the Business Environment Working Group in 2002 to share knowledge on donor-supported business environment reform 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.

Key achievements

In 2008, the Group published the foundational Practical Guidance for Development Agencies on Supporting Business Environment Reform, based on the findings of three major conferences. 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. In 2010-2011, country reviews in Kenya, Bangladesh and Rwanda explored practical applications, and the findings can be found here.

The Group has also focused on the relationship between business environment reform and the informal economy. Research was commissioned in 2009, and a conference held in 2010, in Cape Town, South Africa, informing the development of an Annex to the Practical Guidance focusing on how business environment reform can support formalisation.

In 2011, the Group published ‘The Political Economy of Business Environment Reform: An Introduction for Practitioners‘. It considers how political economy issues affect donors’ efforts to support business environment reform, and gives practical ways in which practitioners can address these issues, drawing on examples from four countries.

The Group has explored the particular intersection between business environment reform and industrial policy. The 2013 DCED working paper ‘ Strategic Industrial Policy and Business Environment Reform. Are they compatible?’ addresses the relationship between business environment reform and industrial policy approaches, and makes recommendations to donors on how industrial policy can be applied. The paper draws on examples from four countries. An Annex to the Practical Guidance on Business Environment Reform on how BER can be complemented through industrial policy support summarised the lessons learnt.

The Group has also looked at the results measurement of business environment reform programmes. The results measurement systems and experiences of four programmes across regional trade support, tax reform, business advocacy and public-private dialogue, and improving the regulatory framework for business registration and company formation, are highlighted in a case study report, while an Annex to the Practical Guidance on Supporting BER was developed on how to measure donor-supported BER results.

In 2015, the Group has further published a study of the Contribution of Quality Infrastructure to leverage the impact of BE reform as well as associated donor guidance. It also published a review of Supporting Sector-Focused Business Environment Reform in Developing Countries.

Ongoing work

Currently, the Group focuses on several themes, including:

  • donor guidance on business environment reform at the regional and sub-national levels
  • case studies on gender issues in business environment reform
  • business environment reform and labour productivity
  • analysis of models for public procurement from SMEs

More information