Overview of the Business Environment Working Group (BEWG)

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.

Addressing Informality

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.

Measuring BER

Green BER

BER and COVID-19 Responses

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)

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

Economic Transformation through BER

BER and Investment Promotion

Creating Better Business Environments for Micro and Small Enterprises

Additional, older Working Group publications are listed at the bottom of the page.

Webinar series

  • 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.

Ongoing work

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

More information

Older BEWG publications

Policies that Promote SME Participation in Public Procurement

BER and Labour Productivity

How BER can Promote Formalisation

Gender-Sensitive BER

BER for Inclusive Business

Territorial and Sectoral Perspectives on BER

Quality Infrastructure

Results Measurement in BER

How BER can be Complemented with Industrial Policy Support

The Political Economy of BER

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.

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.