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IFC Sustainability

Business Registration

 

Worldwide, women are three times more likely than men to be working in the informal economy. This has huge implications.

 

Formalization of a business is the first step toward accessing financial and other types of support that can help a small business grow to scale. Women can find it more difficult than men to register their businesses and obtain necessary licenses and permits.

 

Applying a Gender Lens to Business Regulation

 

The reasons for women’s greater difficulty vary. A key issue is whether a woman is required to obtain the signature or consent of her husband or a male relative on business registration forms. Other legal or cultural limitations on women’s ability to travel can prevent them from filing registration documents. Domestic responsibilities can limit their time to appear repeatedly in person during the registration process.

 

Even where the law supports women, a lack of business skills training and limited access to business networks may mean women are less aware of the formalization process. Gender bias in dealing with officials can also take its toll.

 

Applying a gender lens to business regulation reform and simplification, and including women in the dialogue, will help ensure that both women and men entrepreneurs can benefit from any change.

 

Step-by-Step Guide for Reform 

 

To learn how to include gender dimensions in regulatory reform connected with business entry and operations, refer to Gender Dimensions of Investment Climate Reform: A Guide for Policy Makers and Practitioners.

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