Objectives of the 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.
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.)
In June 2018, the Working Group produced a video introduction to the Business Environment Reform approach:
Full list of of BEWG publications on specific aspects of BER
This section compiles DCED guidance on specific aspects of BER, as well as technical working papers and case studies, which have often informed the process of developing guidance. It is organised by sub-themes.
- 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.
Preferential procurement for SMEs:
- 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.
- 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. subnational) 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Political Economy issues:
- 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.
Dealing with the informal economy:
- 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.
Original Donor Guidance on Supporting Business Environment Reform
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 benchmarked against the good practice summarised in the Donor Guidance.
- Individual country review reports are available for Kenya, Bangladesh and Rwanda.
- The comparative report proposed 51 lessons learned.
Currently, the Group focuses on several themes, including:
- Working paper on BER and Investment promotion
- Working paper on BER for small and micro enterprises
- Policy Brief on BER and Labour Productivity
- Policy Brief on BER and Public Procurement for SMEs
- The group also plans a series of webinars to disseminate their work.