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The Songdo International Business District in Incheon, west of Seoul, South Korea. (LEE JAE-WON/LEE JAE-WON/REUTERS)
The Songdo International Business District in Incheon, west of Seoul, South Korea. (LEE JAE-WON/LEE JAE-WON/REUTERS)

Small Business Briefing

Ease of doing business around the world Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz

Record improvement in sub-Saharan Africa, South Korea climbs into top 10

A record number of economies in sub-Saharan Africa have improved their business regulations for entrepreneurs over the past year, according to a new report from the International Finance Corp. (IFC) and the World Bank.

The report measures the ease of doing business in 183 countries, ranking them in 10 areas of business regulation, to determine how conducive they are to starting and operating a local firm.

The report found that a total of 125 governments in the 183 countries made a total of 245 business regulatory reforms—13-per-cent more than in the previous year

The report found that, in sub-Saharan Africa, 36 of 46 governments made improvements to the regulatory environment, a record since 2005 -- good news for local entrepreneurs in a region where starting and running a business remains costlier and more complicated than any other region in the world, according to highlights of the report.

Among other highlights: Morocco made the most improvement of all other economies, climbing 21 places to 94th in the rankings.

Other economies that had the most improvements included Moldova, Macedonia, Sao Tome and Principe, Latvia, Cape Verde, Sierra Leone, Burundi, the Solomon Islands, South Korea, Armenia and Colombia.

The Republic of Korea (South Korea) climbed for the first time into the top 10 easiest countries to do business. The top 10 were led by Singapore, followed by Hong Kong, China, New Zealand, the United States, Denmark.Norway, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Iceland and Ireland. Canada ranked 13th, preceded by Finland and Saudi Arabia.

The bottom five were Guinea, Eritrea, Congo Republic, Central African Republic and Chad.

For a ranking of the countries, click here. To gain access to the full report, click here.

Coolest offices in the world

As you sit in your cramped cubicle, or fail to find inspiration in the drab walls that surround your office, covet some of the spaces that others are working in, among Inc.'s selection of the world's coolest offices.

Eye candy for the interior designers and architects inside us, Inc.'s choices, made in partnership with Architizer, range from Istanbul to Milan and include, as it writes, "an indoor skateboarding bowl, a converted railway station..., a converted 1940s warehouse, and a tiny atelier open to the sky and earth.."

The winner is found in San Francisco. It is Obscura Digital's headquarters, which were designed by IwamotoScott Architecture.

According to Inc., it showcases "true inventiveness," changing a dull 1940s warehouse into a "tri-level matrix of workspaces."

Inc. found winners in many categories, including best use of nature, most creative materials, best small spaces and best use of products.

Chinese small business owners protest e-commerce fee hikes

A group of small business owners in China have upped their protest against higher fees for using the country's leading online payment platform, Reuters reported.

The group has now set its sights on Alipay, after a corporate sibling, Taobao Mall, announced up to a tenfold hike in some fees for using its services.

That sparked online protests from thousands of small business owners and supporters, Reuters said Chinese media reported. The company that owns these firms is about 40-per-cent owned by Yahoo Inc., according to the Reuters piece.


Social media smarts

Christi, Millar, director for the Canadian Youth Business Foundation in Alberta, will offer some advice on how CYBF uses social media and the role it can play in inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs, at the Calgary social media breakfast. It's being held on Oct. 28. For more information click here.

Summit for small business

One more reminder: If you haven't already, mark Nov. 8 for the Small Business Summit. Hosted by The Globe and Mail's Report on Small Business in conjunction with Achilles Media, the event in Toronto for entrepreneurs offers a lineup of speakers, workshops and networking opportunities. Click here for more details, including registration.


11 years, and still waiting for the big sale

Star Navigation Systems Group Ltd. has been in business for more than a decade, raised $25-million in financing – and made almost no sales. Read about the company that believes it's created the next black box, and why its founder and chief executive officer, Viraf Kapadia, is still hanging in.


Amazing spaces

In this video from our own continuing search for office spaces of note, large format printer CanvasPop.com shows off its splashy warehouse in Ottawa, complete with DJ turntable station. It's part of our ongoing Amazing Space feature.

Canadian entrepreneurs drawn to West Bank

Starting and running a business in many places around the world comes with many hurdles, from political tensions to bureaucracies, trade barries to telecommunications obstacles,as we examined in a September story on Canadian entrepreneurs who have been drawn to start up businesses in the West Bank. In the latest IFC-World Bank report, West Bank and Gaza ranked at 131 of 183 countries measured for their ease of doing business.

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