The four-year Improving Business Environment for Prosperity (IBEP) program is implemented by the World Bank Group (WBG) with support from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office Prosperity Fund. The program aims to strengthen the design and implementation of business environment reforms in middle income countries with the objectives of boosting business competition and catalyzing shared prosperity. It is built around a Global Influence Window and country-level engagements in nine countries: Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Turkey and Vietnam. See the Program’s Theory of Change.
Middle Income Countries (MICs) are home to a substantial part of the world’s population (representing about five of the world’s seven billion people) as well as global poverty (accounting for 73% of the world’s poor). They are also considered major engines of global growth, generating about one third of global GDP, though they often face common challenges, including:
- Stagnating productivity growth
- Worsening inequality and poverty rates
- Weak governance structures
- Growing instability
- More frequent and severe crises (i.e. refugee crisis, commodity prices shocks)
These issues make it difficult for policymakers to promote sustainable growth, firm integration into the world economy, or a more even distribution of wealth. In addition, the emergence of global value chains (GVCs) has changed the global economic landscape. GVCs have transformed the production of goods, increased the relevance of private investment, and set global standards for economic activity. Given their importance, a favorable business environment is essential to create the opportunities and incentives for firms to invest productively, generate jobs, and grow. Transparent and simple regulations, low costs of doing business and open markets give the private sector confidence to start a business, increase market shares and expand into new markets.
By working with governments to improve their business environment, boost competition and attract and retain investments, IBEP seeks to support countries generate more employment opportunities and increase their shared prosperity.
The IBEP program targets key development constraints faced by MICs. Specific activities are designed in alignment with the countries’ national development plans and strategies, and with the WBG’s Systematic Country Diagnostics and Country Partnership Frameworks. Country programs are designed around the following three thematic pillars:
- Strengthening business regulations and practices. Government regulations play a decisive role in creating a predictable and conducive framework for businesses to form, operate, and grow. The objective of this pillar is to improve regulations, reduce administrative costs, foster open and competitive markets, and lower uncertainty for businesses and investors.
- Enhancing business competitiveness. Local firms enhance their competitiveness when they integrate into value chains, increase service and product quality standards, participate in public tenders, or leverage technology. This pillar aims at improving local firms’ linkages to international markets and investors, and at increasing their ability to meet service and product quality standards.
- Catalyzing shared prosperity. Shared prosperity captures two elements: economic growth and equity. From the perspective of businesses and investors, lagging regions in most large MICs account for large markets and hold promise as potential engines of growth. However, these regions face significant gaps in terms of human capacity, legal, regulatory and institutional frameworks for investment, and the reach and efficacy of government services, all impeding business activities, ultimately holding up productivity and job creation. The objective of this pillar is to advance shared prosperity by improving business environment at subnational level.
Global Influence Window
In addition to country engagements, IBEP capitalizes on the WBG’s global reach and cross-country knowledge to inform the design and implementation of the IBEP country programs. It also showcases the experience of the program countries for the benefit of other developing countries and fosters peer-to-peer learning opportunities. The Global Influence Window thus develops and leverages a range of analytical and global engagement initiatives across its five pillars focused on (i) analytics, (ii) reform toolkits, (iii) adaptive policy design, (iii) the bi-annual Global Investment Competitiveness Report, and (iv) peer-to-peer learning events bringing together policymakers with business and academia leaders to enhance partnerships, exchange ideas, and develop solutions. Please find a list of the IBEP-supported publications developed by the Global Influence Window below.
Gender and Inclusion
The program also features the cross-cutting theme of gender and inclusion (G&I) across its activities. Building on the momentum of the peer-to-peer learning event held in Johannesburg, South Africa in March 2019, the program has made a concerted effort of formulating a G&I approach and setting targets in each of the nine country engagements.