In many countries the procedures to register a business can be confusing, costly, and discouraging. Although the Doing Business index has recorded increased efficiencies over the years, registering a business can still be a daunting process, especially for smaller firms and firms located outside major cities. In Brazilian cities, for example, it takes on average 129 days to start a business, according to a study by Endeavor.
The new site Global Enterprise Registration aims to bring greater awareness and transparency to registration processes and to simplify the registration experience for entrepreneurs. A project of UNCTAD, Global Enterprise Registration combines access to information portals, which provide instructions and forms, and online single windows, which consolidate applications and payments for mandatory registrations. In addition, the site’s user feedback tool shows where governments can improve the user experience.
From the GER site, for example, one can link to Kenya’s guide to starting a local company and easily see all the steps required. Estonia has a world-class single window to register e-business. Not surprisingly, in many cases there is room for improvement. As GER notes, 62 economies do not have online business registration available. Even where online registration is available, delays on the back end may persist. Online company registration in Nepal has not yet succeeded in eliminating delays, typically caused by expectations of under-the-table settlements.
Streamlining business registration is an important step toward formalizing businesses, which has implications for access to markets, rule of law, public revenues, and labor standards. To be sure, major reforms are required to have an impact on new firm registrations. Encouragingly, CIPE has in fact seen strong numbers of new registrations stimulated by reforms in places like Jordan, Montenegro, and Guatemala.
The Global Enterprise Registration site is worth a look as a starting guide for entrepreneurs and governments as well as a platform that highlights possibilities to improve this key area of the business environment.
Kim Bettcher is Senior Knowledge Manager at CIPE.