Private Sector Development
Informality is the subject of many a report, study, intervention, policy brief, political agenda and fireside chat, and due to its prevalence, rightfully so. In emerging and developing economies, the informal sector accounted for 32% of GDP and 70% of employment in 2016. This is a concern because informal firms tend to be less productive than formal firms and pay workers less than their formal counterparts. Reversing informality is enticing and promises rewards in the form of potential tax revenues, productivity gains, and poverty eradicating capabilities. But the quest to bring more firms and workers into the formal sector has proven to be complex.
What would happen if you put all the relevant players for the entrepreneurial ecosystem — startup founders, policymakers, developers, students, investors — into one room and facilitated an open dialogue on improving the business environment? This is exactly what is taking place in West Africa through a series of policy hackathons supported by the World Bank.
“We all have a stake in development and this multifaceted process – local, top-down, bottom-up – is a great example of African innovation. Civic engagement in policymaking is not happening elsewhere so it’s not just about importing knowledge and best practice but generating lessons we can export to the rest of the world,” said Sebastian Molineus, World Bank Director of the Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation (FCI) Global Practice about policy hackathons taking place in West Africa, at a recent World Bank Brown-Bag Lunch in January.
So what is a policy hackathon?
“The training has completed my knowledge about open innovation. I can now go and talk to potential clients to identify their needs and show what we can offer them.” -- Mariem Kane, Hadina RIMTIC incubator
They also allow corporate partners to respond quickly to changing market dynamics and test out new products or target new audiences.
- Central African Republic
- Burkina Faso
- United States
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- Egypt, Arab Republic of
- Congo, Democratic Republic of
- Cote d'Ivoire
- Private Sector Development
- African entrepreneurs
The authentic travel experience should be a boon for Africa, but its missing the mark.
Since 2016, tourism market trends have shifted away from “get-a-way” travel to traveling for ‘authentic’ experiences. This transformation is driven by the world’s largest consumer group—millennials—and amplified by digital platforms and social media but is also echoed across other segments.
African countries, with their abundant wealth of natural and cultural assets, are perfectly positioned to capitalize on this shift, just as the rise of digital platforms are reducing market access barriers for such products. However, in our new World Bank Group report, we found that
- Standards: Africa’s market share lags other regions, and many products are not of sufficient standard.
- Exclusion and the digital divide: Marginalized groups, often best placed to deliver the product, are at risk of further exclusion.
- Community Impact: Bringing tourism into communities also brings other risks which need to be managed.
Tech startups and business angels are not what comes to mind when thinking of the Czech Republic (CR). Instead, this small central European country is known for its beer, scenic bridges crossing the Vltava river, and existential writers. Not so easy to add “vibrant entrepreneurial hub” to the list as it celebrates the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia. Nevertheless, that's exactly what the CR policymakers intend to do.
CR has what it takes to be an entrepreneurial hub for Central Europe
Such reluctance of many local financial institutions (FIs) to invest has been a major impediment to the Nigerian solar off-grid market which lags compared to other African countries such as Kenya.
A year ago, Farzana had no idea that an online business would so drastically change her life. She was drowning in debt with no way of repaying, worrying about her family’s financial future. Reaching for a lifeline, she joined GharPar, a women-founded, women-led social enterprise that connects beauticians with clients seeking at-home salon services through an Uber-like digital platform.