What is the business enabling environment?

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I'm blogging from Hanoi this week, where IFC staff from all over have gathered to share experiences on promoting the "business enabling environment". Like all development jargon, this one has an acronym – BEE. The goal of BEE work is to improve the operating environment for local businesses (especially small and medium-size ones), help countries attract foreign investment (especially poor or troubled ones), and help them draft regulations that make sure this economic activity will reduce corruption, promote equality and protect the environment. Simple, right?

Staff commitment to these lofty goals is high, judging by the mountains of local Vietnamese goods we've purchased on jaunts to the shopping district. Lacquer and silk are hard to turn down.

On Monday we heard about exciting BEE projects that use mediation to pull commercial disputes out of backlogged court systems, simplify businesses registrations, and transform safety inspections from just another bribe payment to a process that protects consumers. I'm amazed by the difficult places where this kind work is succeeding – Tajikistan, Timor Leste, Cambodia, Indonesia, Nicaragua. Watch this space for details on these projects, either from me or from the program officers themselves.

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