Editor's Note: Peter Kusek is an Investment Policy Officer with the Investment Climate Advisory Services of the World Bank Group.
Microfinance has been getting its fair share of attention lately.
How do you get a small entrepreneur in northern Sicily to navigate through the maze of government bureaucracy, tap into the creative juices of an architect or a musician and submit a successful funding proposal for a government-funded development project?
The Enterprise Surveys team has introduced a new product called Country Notes. This series of notes provide a customized snapshot of a country’s business environment relative to other economies surveyed in the region. While the survey fieldwork itself is a complex task, the notes themselves provide succinct analyses and policy recommendations based on the collected data.
Might access to credit have anything to do with support for employment protection legislation (EPL)? Felipe Balmaceda and Ronald Fischer propose a connection. Workers in firms with easy access to credit EPL. Workers in firms with shaky access to credit oppose EPL.
Internet usage has been increasing at a rapid rate over the last decade or so. For example, according to World Development Indicators (WDI, World Bank), internet subscribers equaled 13% of the total population in low and middle income countries in 2007. This is up from a mere 1.5% in 2000, implying on average an increase of over 109% per annum in the proportion of internet subscribers.
Microfinance received a nice fillip recently when Muhammad Yunus was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by U.S. President Barack Obama. While Yunus's rockstar status has helped put the access to finance agenda center stage, I wonder if it might obscure some of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. Perhaps the phrase "credit bureaus" may not cause your heart to race, but in some countries this is really where the action is at.
Could a good business environment help countries cope with the crisis? Razia Khan, Regional Head of Research for Africa at Standard Chartered Bank, seems to think so: