November 4th, 2010
08:06 AM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) – Although the news media focuses on the GMs, Microsofts and Wal-Marts of the world, it’s really Mom-and-Pop shops that make the world economy go round.

Most jobs in any economy are created and sustained by small and medium-sized businesses. And the seeds of recovery are often sown through the entrepreneurial blood of laid-off workers.

Indeed, some trace the tech entrepreneurial boom in the 1990s to the round of layoffs that occurred in the U.S. after the 1987 stock market crash.

Entrepreneurship – and the South Korean economy – soared in the years following the devastating 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis.  So in the aftermath of the greatest world recession since World War II, it’s worth watching which countries are doing the most to help foster entrepreneurial growth.

By that measure, East Asia is ahead of the pack. According to a ranking released Thursday by the World Bank and the International Financial Corporation, the economies of East Asia are doing the most to foster entrepreneurship.

“For the first time in eight years, the economies of East Asia and the Pacific were among the most active,” the report said.

“Eighteen of 24 reformed business regulations and institutions in the past year—more than in any other region.

“Emerging-market economies such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam took the lead, easing business start-up, permitting, and property registration, and improving credit information sharing,” the report said.

The report examined ease of starting a business, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and other factors that help pave the way for new businesses.

Global rankings on ease of doing business:

1) Singapore

2) Hong Kong SAR, China

3) New Zealand

4) United Kingdom

5) United States

6) Denmark

7) Canada

8)  Norway

9) Ireland

10) Australia

11) Saudi Arabia

12) Georgia

13) Finland

14) Sweden

15) Iceland

16) South Korea

17) Estonia

18) Japan

19) Thailand

20) Mauritius

Do you agree with the World Bank? What issues do you encounter starting your own business?

soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. Joe

    In Ukraine, the government is stuck in Post-WWII era: Mountains of meaningless paperwork, bureaucratic-red tape, "administrative government officials' fees", lawyers, etc.

    So much of the economy is "gray" because it is not only difficult to become legitimate, its expensive to start, and overly taxed. They keep raising the taxes because the tax base has shrunk – instead of streamlining the process, lowering the rates – keeps those aspiring business owners stuck between going the legitimate route vs. efficient, expedient route.

    November 4, 2010 at 8:44 am |
  2. Manny Pereira

    I have had businesses in U.S., Canada and now England, they have all been built from the ground up simply by printing business cards and soliciting existing businesses for thier business one by one. While it may be relatively easy to start a small business in these countries, you are essentially alone in all aspects of your venture, the governments provide little to no support and financially, no support at all unless you have the matching funds and excellent credit rating, in which case you would do better to visit your local bank.

    Starting a business is a full time job that requires a tremendous amount of hours, so if your family life is alreads bad, its going to get worse. My businesses have always cost me time with my family and a tremendous amount of stress and debt. The key to recovery is not on the consumer, but on government spending and waste, while the consumer must work hard for thier money, governments waste it by the billions and lose it by the billions without a trace. What consumer can do that?

    November 4, 2010 at 8:54 am |
  3. ck

    yes this is true. Singapore is really the best jurisdiction to start a business. Business Registration and Tax related processess are very high-tech.... on top of the efficient people.

    November 4, 2010 at 9:04 am |
  4. Sree

    What is Saudi doing up round there, Exporting T?

    November 4, 2010 at 9:32 am |
  5. DanUK

    I'm not so sure about the UK being number 4 today. This was certainly true 10 years ago, but today, so many have taken advantage of the UK, that there is now so much competition, that no new business can survive in the consumer sector.
    Ebay has also had a huge effect of flooding the UK market and driving down prices, thereby killing-off small and new businesses like never before.

    November 4, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  6. CP

    I totally agree that Singapore is the best place to start a business. The convenience of accessing all set up documentation and registrations are easily accessible online. The efficiency of relevant authority handling all the requirement for business set up is excellent. Most of the information and submission can be obtained and done online. The accuracy of information is excellent and the timing to expect required documentation is very much on time. They deliver what they promised to make life easier for investors and business people like us.

    November 4, 2010 at 9:57 am |
  7. Orestis

    Cyprus is an excellent place for (ahem– Russian) business start-ups :)

    November 4, 2010 at 10:29 am |
  8. Xia Kun

    Well, I don't see China, but there, in order to get a business license, you must first open the business, hire people and start working!!
    this is the only way you can prove to the officials that you are capable
    of doing business and eventually will get your licenses.. I wonder
    if it could be more easier!
    For World Bank, who is not living in China, it was enough to notice that
    the fastest growing economy in the world could not be so if
    government put ugly bureaucraticy and obstacles to small

    November 4, 2010 at 11:14 am |
  9. Husein

    What happened to Dubai(UAE) ? Must be a blind person who put Saudi Arabia.

    November 4, 2010 at 11:20 am |
  10. little boy

    Hongkongwhere i want to vist ls the most beautiful city of china!

    November 4, 2010 at 11:31 am |
  11. Rebecca

    It's certainly not easy for a woman to start a business in Saudi Arabia. It should not be on the list.

    November 4, 2010 at 11:36 am |
  12. kk

    personally, countries with less govt control or more bribery/developing countries in general are the best and i would say easiest to start a business

    November 4, 2010 at 11:51 am |
  13. Eugene

    Joe, the stuff that you described is only the top of the iceberg. You can't imagine how many bribes you have to pay in order to keep the business alive in Ukraine. Also let's not forget about racket, it has not really gone anywhere since 90s.

    November 4, 2010 at 11:53 am |
  14. Reynold

    Obviously Singapore. Saudi Arabia? What has it got to do with business?

    November 4, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
  15. Andre

    What about Brazil?

    November 4, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  16. PS

    Singapore may the easiest place to start a business, but may not be the easiest place to DO business.

    November 4, 2010 at 2:11 pm |
  17. Shoukat Ali Ansari

    Pakistan is peaceful country in the world. I proud that I am Pakistani.

    November 4, 2010 at 2:24 pm |
  18. James

    i strongly disagree with this list, a very strong point was missed out which is "visas" . In order to invest or open a Small business you require a visa to enter and stay at the specified country. With the exception of Asian nations, countries on the top of the list like Canada, USA, NZ, Australia provide an extremely difficult procedure to obtain a visa (unless you're from a first nation/Western World or you invest in excess of $2 Million). I myself have invested in Canadian real estate, but was not able enter Canada itself because i was denied a visa, the same happened to me when i tried starting up a small business in Australia.

    If you have no permission to enter a country, how can you establish your business in the first place? Countries like Singapore, Hongkong and some european nations have already overcome this problem by easing restrictions on visas.

    World bank needs to take this aspect into consideration and view these countries from an international perspective rather than a local or a western only perspective.

    November 4, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
  19. AL

    Denmark, Estonia and Saudi's have strict laws when it comes to business. I wouldn't invest a single penny there. Singapore; not doubt is on top of the list, but what happened to all hard working people from America? A perfect example, I have been working non-stop for over a decade without any proper break or rest from work, paid all my due Federal, State, local and Sales taxes. Here I am loosing my Job for the third time in 2 years time. No help from Govt or Govt agencies who can help assist paying my Mortgage. Where is our American Dream of Living with pride and Honor, Honesty and Freedom? What happened to the entire Nation? Are we doing something not that we are supposed to be doing? Way too many questions but no answers from anywhere? Why are smaller countries and economies are living a lot better than their Big Brothers? Something is truly not right....

    I think we are not working hard & honest enough.......Any solutions?

    November 4, 2010 at 3:14 pm |
  20. Singapore based start up

    Singapore is a great place to start a company. The government has a lot of money to allocate towards start up companies. Many of the young entrepreneurs have experience because universities send entrepreneurs to Silicon Valley so they can 'soak up' the atmosphere.

    In addition, being close to the 'bigger' markets ie: India and China is also attractive.

    November 4, 2010 at 9:34 pm |
  21. S M Kamran

    Pakistan is also a good place to commence business.

    November 5, 2010 at 4:05 am |
  22. UKA UKA

    WOW! Thailand is 2nd of ASIAN country. We still have future even we are too slow.

    November 5, 2010 at 4:15 am |
  23. Smygen

    I agree. In Norway it's very easy – the tax level is high, but the state provides extensive economic security in case of economic recessions. Starting and owning a business is very easy.

    It's a shame most Norwegians think otherwise, and complain in such a ridiculous way that it's embarrasing.

    November 5, 2010 at 6:04 am |
  24. Summer

    China, Guangxi will be a new growth point

    November 5, 2010 at 6:38 am |
  25. Iva

    For sure, making business in Georgia is really getting much easier & easier. In Georgia you simply don’t have to do anything to start business, just to wish. Georgia has so big potential in all kind of business that you my dear friends, who read this letter, soon will be very impressed.

    November 5, 2010 at 8:52 am |
  26. Randevu park - Gyula Ell

    I am from Hungary. Sorry Hungary has a bad government, and the economist is very slow and if the ministeries are slow ones, I can not start with my self employing. I have organised a marketing and tourism plan. It is along in the world and I give the higher profit to a country. Only I would like to start! Sorry Hungary is a korruption fulled country and the business can not work. There are bad thoughts in the tourism, the health, the schools, or culture, or the hungarian entrepreneurs. Sorry. Tell me, are there so country, where the big profit is necessary? Excuse me my english errors!

    November 5, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  27. hider esparado

    no doubt singapore is the centre point between 2 guardian "india and china".....
    in fact in singapore they're teaching their citizen to live like a robot....and therefore,i would like to say here that,singapore u deserve it and i don't see that thailand is better than malaysia!!!! agree with me?

    November 5, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  28. Felipe Jr.

    I am a Jeddah-based Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW). I'm proud of Saudi Arabia's ranking from 13th to 11th this time. I consider Saudi as my second home.

    From burning natural gas and oil fields to producing petrochemicals, gas and steel, Saudi Arabia’s industry has taken a quantum leap in development. During the last 20 years, the economic performance and outlook of the Kingdom have guided the business sector in pursuit of commercial opportunities.

    The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest country on the Arabian Peninsula, bordering Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen.

    Like its neighbours in the Arabian Gulf, Saudi Arabia is primarily known as a petroleum-based economy. It has the largest oil reserves in the world and is the world’s leading oil producer and exporter. Petroleum accounts for more than 90% of its exports and nearly 75% of government revenues.

    “SAGIA offers $500bn investment bonanza.” Saudi Arabia offers new investment opportunities worth $500 billion in energy, transport and industrial projects, Amr Al-Dabbagh, governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, (SAGIA) announced here on Tuesday. (Arab News, 26 October 2010).

    November 5, 2010 at 7:12 pm |
  29. Oladipo Akinyemi Omole

    I think I would go with the first 7 countries, because it's easier doing business there.For instance potential investors choose who their partners are or will be and there are no forced partnerships unlike in most if not all African countries.These countries have functional legal systems that allow courts to enforce contractual obligations among parties in business.They all have functioning infrastructure that makes it easier to do business.
    In Africa it's quite tedious doing business except in South Africa and the Mahgreb for very well known reasons.Cheers.

    November 6, 2010 at 1:42 am |
  30. Dozo

    Mauritius? How many people can pin point that country on a map?

    November 6, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
  31. erik tael

    Watch Estonia to grow in future.

    November 7, 2010 at 1:44 am |
  32. Rudi

    How about Swizerland? I started businesses in Belgium, France and Switzerland and quickly saw the error of my ways in the first two. As a European it was easy to start in Swizerland- though you need residence- easy for a EU citizen. After that the country's efficiency and relatively-entrepreneurial investors are a big plus.

    November 7, 2010 at 10:30 am |
  33. from Saudi Arabia

    11) Saudi Arabia Verey good tame

    November 9, 2010 at 5:32 am |
  34. Rafaqat Ali Malik

    Every top ranking company is now days investing in India which is not on the list quit strange! that is booming economy of the world. but other countries in which you have better ways to access where you can manage easily will be the best to start your business even if that is not on the list. the US, Norway, Denmark, UK are not as good as the other mention countries due to the risk of crisis. However these are good enough but fall very quickly.

    November 9, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
  35. Sunny

    If the govt don't change the way they management the system and give better benefits to business owner and FBA, they might be out of the top 20 lists soon...

    November 10, 2010 at 1:03 am |
  36. Mark

    "what about Brazil" Andre, surely you jest! Are you Brazilian? Have you ever tried to start a business here? It takes months and months to get a CNPJ (business license) There are tons of bureaucratic rules and mounds of red tape to get anything going here. On top of that Brazil has one of the highest tax rates in the world while providing little to no support to its citizenry.
    Yes there is a lot of money to be made in Brazil right now but only for those with lots of capital, connections and LOTS of patience.

    November 10, 2010 at 12:53 pm |
  37. outsourcinghr

    Well I just started an human resources outsourcing company in the Bakersfield, Los Angeles, CA area. We also do business and hr consulting. I think the main things to consider are access to technology and resources. For instance, the US has a majority of the technology in human resources and the people here have a good education and certifications. I know there are other countries with better education and lower costs, yet I'm content. I leverage resources internationally in India, China, etc. to penetrate world markets. Outsourcing HR's website is and our blog is If you have any suggestions or want information please contact me. There are lots of great articles on the site.

    November 11, 2010 at 12:13 am |
  38. Bob Page

    China is not there because you have to be the government to start anything easy, Even a family.

    November 14, 2010 at 9:39 pm |
  39. am

    India should be among the last as the bureaucracy and politicians here deliberately sabotage entrepreneurial effort so that they could extract bribes. India is however the best place to start a dishonest business. The laws are lenient and the law enforcement is purchasable.

    November 15, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
  40. Ann -From New York

    Singapore, give me a break...1) Opening your business there is expensive 2) It may be the easiest place to start a business because "Free Trade"...yes, but fair trade practices forget it. So you can sell almost anything one way or the other and make money! But if you are an ethical person you would have a hard time there because you will always have compeditors steeling your concepts and blocking your business(internet/blogs/gossipy polluters, ie., Oil/Gas Associations, especially if you are not Aisan(well then bribes do work). Blogs are easily built up to tear down the good guys. A New Yorker, Richard Stanley, was 48 and DBS Bank President suddenly died of an overdose of chemotherapy for lukemia 2 years ago !!! Another New Yorker was pushed out because she did not agree with unethical medical sales and hring practices(esp for the employment pass).

    November 18, 2010 at 5:26 am |
  41. David

    Agree. Singapore is the best place to start a business, but you better pray hard that your business is doing good if not Singapore will not hesitate to kick you out of their country. I rather go a place where it is harder to start a business but will allow you a more timeframe to continue and grow your business.

    Story share: my friend set up his business here 3 years ago and he was holding a valid working pass to start his business. 3 years later, Singapore expects him to invest S$100.000 to his business if not his pass will not be renewed and he is forced to sell his business to his local partner as he can't physically stay in SIngapore to look after his business and his business partner was just lending him his name in order for him to start the business... SO... what do you think? I will go for HK...

    November 22, 2010 at 2:29 am |
  42. miki hiir

    Estonia is the best place to start business, utterly easy.

    November 23, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
  43. Rao Imran

    i am agree as mention up but i think Dubai , UAE and Saudi Arab Also nice place to start new business bcaz these country visa process also normal. not like other europion country , Austalia, Canada there so much hard to get visa , then how start new business there.

    Bu i am agree Hong kong ans sigapore

    November 28, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
  44. humres

    The best place to start your business is in your own backyard. You know the terrain, you know where to source-goods, services, human capital, etc. Everything you need is at your doorstep. However, there are a few BUTS, IFS and UNLESS that you need to hurdle which is common anywhere.

    December 2, 2010 at 12:05 am |
  45. prav

    the best place to start business is anywhere the only thing you need to know is the social culltural and if you can read the peoples mind and speak their language thats it you are done never mind if you are a chinese indian european american. you just need to work on the basics to start business the basic law,tax,employment thats it if you know you are in................and you can begin the show and run it very well. correct me if i am wrong

    December 2, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
  46. Anim Profoski

    The best place to start business is Cyprus ("EU Tax heaven").

    Cyprus imposes the second lowest tax rate for individuals and the lowest taxes on corporate profits among the euro area countries, according to data published by Eurostat. The maximum tax rate for individuals in Cyprus is 30%, while the average in the eurozone is 42.4% and 37.5% in the EU. Regarding the tax on corporate profits, the rate in Cyprus is 10%, while the average in the eurozone is 25.7% and in the EU 23.2%. In addition, Cyprus is one of the most advantageous places of residency for Russian and Ukrainian companies. Also It offers a high level of banking, auditing, accounting and legal services, which developed Cyprus into a successful international business and financial centre.

    For more information you can visit
    company incorporation in Cyprus

    They help me some time ago to start my business in cyprus.

    December 10, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
  47. Simon

    Singapore? What a joke. Yes, the paperwork may be simple but the whole environment for business in this country is awful, especially if you are young. Its impossible to find dedicated business partners, if you're a local or a 2nd generation permanent resident you face 2 years of absolutely destructive conscription (and so do your friends with whom you want to do anything, I know because Im stuck in it now), rent is over the roof and the CoE (and other car taxes) prevent you from of owning a corporate vehicle even if you badly need it. Singapore is fantastic for the rich to invest in either stocks or real estate, NOT to build up anything from scratch. Go Hong Kong for that.

    July 28, 2012 at 11:37 pm |

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