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Ranked: The 20 Easiest Countries for Doing Business

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Ranking the Ease of Doing Business

Easiest Countries to do Business

Ranked: The 20 Easiest Countries for Doing Business

Contrary to popular belief, the hardest part about running a business may not be finding customers, it’s getting one started.

Depending on the public policies and application processes of your country, you might struggle or succeed in opening and operating a business.

If you live in New Zealand, for example, you can get a new enterprise up and running in half a day. If you live in Luxembourg or Argentina, however, it’s a different story─with the process sometimes taking over a year.

Today’s chart uses data from the World Bank’s annual Doing Business 2020 report, which delves into the ease of doing business in countries around the world.

Measuring the Ease of Doing Business

Now in its 17th year, the Doing Business (DB) report measures how easy it is for someone to start and run a company in an economy, using 12 key factors throughout a business lifecycle:

  1. Starting a business
  2. Employing workers
  3. Dealing with construction permits
  4. Getting electricity
  5. Registering property
  6. Getting credit
  7. Protecting minority investors
  8. Paying taxes
  9. Trading across borders
  10. Contracting with the government
  11. Enforcing contracts
  12. Resolving insolvency

Of the 190 countries reviewed last year, only 115 made it easier for entrepreneurs to do business.

Note to readers: this year’s DB score did not factor in Employing Workers or Contracting with the Government when ranking economies.

Top 20 Easiest Countries to Run a Business

RankCountryDB Score
#1🇳🇿 New Zealand86.8
#2🇸🇬 Singapore86.2
#3🇭🇰 Hong Kong85.3
#4🇩🇰 Denmark85.3
#5🇰🇷 South Korea84
#6🇺🇸 United States84
#7🇬🇪 Georgia83.7
#8🇬🇧 United Kingdom83.5
#9🇳🇴 Norway82.6
#10🇸🇪 Sweden82
#11🇱🇹 Lithuania81.6
#12🇲🇾 Malaysia81.5
#13🇲🇺 Mauritius81.5
#14🇦🇺 Australia81.2
#15🇹🇼 Taiwan80.9
#16🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates80.9
#17🇲🇰 North Macedonia80.7
#18🇪🇪 Estonia80.6
#19🇱🇻 Latvia80.3
#20🇫🇮 Finland80.2

In the top spot for the fourth year in a row, New Zealand only requires half a day to start a business. Singapore also stands out for having the shortest timeframe when it comes to paying business taxes and enforcing business contracts.

Only two African nations─Rwanda and Mauritius─are listed in the top 50 countries, with Mauritius being the only one to crack the top 20 list.

Latin American economies are noticeably missing from the rankings, as many countries in this region are fraught with bureaucracy and prolonged processes.

Most Improved Scores

Several developed and developing economies made significant strides in 2019 to implement reforms that opened doors for new business owners.

The Doing Business 2020 report shows that the cost of starting a business has fallen over time, particularly in developing economies.

Top 10 Most Improved Economies, 2018-2019

Top 10 most improved economies for doing business

Saudi Arabia made the greatest improvement overall, adding 7.7 points to its score.

Bahrain also made improvements over the most number of factors (9). While Jordan showed improvement in the fewest factors (3), it showed the second highest jump in DB Score.

Gains Among Low-Income Countries

The DB 2020 study also shows that developing economies are making progress: it’s now cheaper than ever before to run a business in developing economies.

However, a significant disparity still remains when we consider the difference in business costs between high-income and low-income economies.

An entrepreneur starting a company in a low-income economy will spend about 50% of per capita income (PCI) to launch a venture, whereas an entrepreneur in a high-income economy spends only 4% PCI to accomplish the same task.

Put another way, entrepreneurs located in the bottom 50 economies spend an average six times more to open a new company as those in a high-income economy.

Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth

Generally, more entrepreneurs will enter a market where they can easily conduct business─adding more value to local economies.

While the rankings clearly illustrate the link between ease of doing business and economic growth, there are still significant barriers in place that not only deter entrepreneurship but also inhibit a relatively simple strategy for growth.

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Markets

Visualizing the Rise of Women on Boards of Directors Worldwide

The representation of women on boards of directors a mixed bag. This graphic looks at the 10-year trend of women on corporate boards.

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The Rise of Women on Boards of Directors Worldwide

Women’s representation in the boardroom is a mixed bag. The number of women on boards is rising across the globe—but the rate of increase has slowed for three of the past four years.

Based on MSCI research of All Country World Index (ACWI) constituent companies, the graphic above reveals a 10-year trend of women’s representation on corporate boards, and projects three future scenarios on the way to parity.

ESG Goals: The Path to Parity

The ESG ecosystem considers 30% representation to be a critical milestone on the road to reaching gender parity on corporate boards of directors.

Following a small uptick in 2019—and two years of slowed growth from 2017 to 2018—the rise of women on boards slowed again in 2020, gaining 0.6 percentage points (p.p.).

Based on different forward-looking scenarios, here’s how long it could take to reach equal representation:

 Progressive scenarioBusiness-as-usual scenarioDeceleration scenario
Years to reach 30%
Women on Boards (WoB)
6 years9 years16 years
Year we may reach >50% WoB203920452070

Source: MSCI ESG Research LLC as of Oct. 30, 2020.

On the whole, parity on corporate boards could be reached as early as 2039 or as late as 2070.

Women’s Representation: State of the Unions

MSCI research reveals trends that highlight significant traction. In 2020, fewer women became directors, but all-male boards continued to decline worldwide to 17% in 2020 (a 2 p.p. drop) among the ACWI contingent.

This trend is partially driven by emerging markets, where all-male boards dropped to 31%, from over 34% initially. Hong Kong is one of the few countries that actually experienced an increase of 5 p.p. in all-male boards. In contrast, Saudi Arabia’s share reduced by 8 p.p. to 86% in 2020.

Country% Companies with 3+ WoBCountry% Companies with no WoB
🇳🇴 Norway100%🇶🇦 Qatar100%
🇮🇹 Italy100%🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia86%
🇧🇪 Belgium100%🇦🇷 Argentina67%
🇵🇹 Portugal100%🇭🇺 Hungary67%
🇫🇷 France100%🇰🇷 South Korea65%
🇸🇪 Sweden91%🇦🇪 UAE63%
🇫🇮 Finland91%🇨🇱 Chile44%
🇪🇸 Spain90%🇲🇽 Mexico38%
🇬🇧 UK85%🇭🇰 Hong Kong37%
🇦🇹 Austria83%🇮🇩 Indonesia36%

Source: MSCI ESG Research LLC as of Oct. 30, 2020.

Europe continues to lead the world in gender representation on boards. All top 10 countries with three or more women directors are found in the region, with countries like Norway, Italy, and Belgium being the closest to reaching parity.

Across sectors, utilities experienced the largest increase in companies with three or more women on boards, with a 9% jump between 2019-2020.

The Other Glass Ceiling: The C-Suite

The number of women CEOs remains low across all regions, but CFO roles show more promise.

 MSCI World, 2017MSCI World, 2020MSCI EM, 2017MSCI EM, 2020
Women in CEO roles4.7%4.9%3.3%4.8%
Women in CFO roles9.4%12.1%9.8%18.7%

Source: MSCI ESG Research LLC as of Oct. 30, 2020.

This global rise is also largely thanks to emerging markets. Since 2017, emerging market companies have exhibited higher percentages of CFOs than companies in developed markets, and the difference is widening.

The Glass Ceiling Isn’t Unbreakable

As MSCI reports, the progress towards parity in boardrooms does not necessarily represent the workplace. Emerging research suggests that women have been more negatively impacted by the pandemic’s economic fallout—potentially undoing several years’ worth of improvements.

However, developing nations still show promising results in key indicators of gender diversity, with further opportunity to grow corporate bottom lines.

As more post-pandemic recovery data becomes available amidst vaccine rollouts, we’ll gain a better sense of whether we’re still on track to follow these long-term trends.

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Technology

Which Streaming Service Has the Most Subscriptions?

From Netflix and Disney+ to Spotify and Apple Music, we rank the streaming services with the most monthly paid subscriptions.

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Streaming Service Subscriptions 2020 - Share

Which Streaming Service Has The Most Subscriptions?

Many companies have launched a streaming service over the past few years, trying to capitalize on the digital media shift and launching the so-called “streaming wars.”

After Netflix grew from a small DVD-rental company to a household name, every media company from Disney to Apple saw recurring revenues ripe for the taking. Likewise, the audio industry has long-since accepted Spotify’s rise to prominence, as streaming has become the de facto method of consumption for many.

But it was actually the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic that solidified the foothold of digital streaming, with subscription services seeing massive growth over the last year. Although it was expected that many new services would flounder along the way, media subscription services saw wide scale growth and adoption almost across the board.

We’ve taken the video, audio, and news subscription services with 5+ million subscribers to see who came out on top—and who has grown the most quickly—over the past year. Data comes from the FIPP media association as well as individual company reports.

Streaming Service Giants: Netflix and Amazon

The top of the streaming giant pantheon highlights two staples of business: the first-mover advantage and the power of conglomeration.

With 200+ million global subscribers, Netflix has capitalized on its position as the first and primary name in digital video streaming. Though its consumer base in the Americas has begun to plateau, the company’s growth in reach (190+ countries) and content (70+ original movies slated for 2021) has put it more than 50 million subscribers ahead of its closest competition.

The story is the same in the audio market, where Spotify’s 144 million subscriber base is more than double that of Apple Music, the next closest competitor with 68 million subscribers.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s position as the second most popular video streaming service with 150 million subscribers might be surprising. However, Prime Video subscriptions are included with membership to Amazon Prime, which saw massive growth in usage during the pandemic.

ServiceTypeSubscribers (Q4 2020)
NetflixVideo203.7M
Amazon Prime VideoVideo150.0M
SpotifyAudio144.0M
Tencent VideoVideo120.0M
iQIYIVideo119.0M
Disney+Video94.9M
YoukuVideo90.0M
Apple MusicAudio68.0M
Amazon Prime MusicAudio55.0M
Tencent Music (Group)Audio51.7M
ViuVideo41.4M
Alt BalajiVideo40M
HuluVideo38.8M
Eros NowVideo36.2M
Sirius XmAudio34.4M
YouTube PremiumVideo/Audio30M
Disney+ HotstarVideo18.5M
Paramount+Video17.9M
HBO MaxVideo17.2M
Starz/StarzPlay/PantayaVideo13.7M
ESPN+Video11.5M
Apple TV+Video10M
DAZNVideo8M
DeezerAudio7M
PandoraAudio6.3M
New York TimesNews6.1M

Another standout is the number of large streaming services based in Asia. China-based Tencent Video (also known as WeTV) and Baidu’s iQIYI streaming services both crossed 100 million paid subscribers, with Alibaba’s Youku not far behind with 90 million.

Disney Leads in Streaming Growth

But perhaps most notable of all is Disney’s rapid ascension to the upper echelons of streaming service giants.

Despite Disney+ launching in late 2019 with a somewhat lackluster content library (only one original series with one episode at launch), it has quickly rocketed both in terms of content and its subscriber base. With almost 95 million subscribers, it has amassed more subscribers in just over one year than Disney expected it could reach by 2024.

ServiceTypePercentage Growth (2019)
Disney+VideoNew
Apple TV+VideoNew
Disney+ HotstarVideo516.7%
ESPN+Video475.0%
Starz/StarzPlay/PantayaVideo211.4%
Paramount+Video123.8%
HBO MaxVideo115.0%
Amazon Prime VideoVideo100.0%
Alt BalajiVideo100.0%
YouTube PremiumVideo/Audio100.0%
DAZNVideo100.0%
Eros NowVideo92.6%
Amazon Prime MusicAudio71.9%
Tencent Music (Group)Audio66.8%
New York TimesNews60.5%
SpotifyAudio44.0%
HuluVideo38.6%
ViuVideo38.0%
NetflixVideo34.4%
Tencent VideoVideo27.7%
iQiyiVideo19.0%
Sirius XmAudio17.4%
Apple MusicAudio13.3%
YoukuVideo9.6%
PandoraAudio1.6%
DeezerAudio0%

The Disney+ wave also spurred growth in partner streaming services like Hotstar and ESPN+, while other services with smaller subscriber bases saw large growth rates thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lingering question is how the landscape will look when the pandemic starts to wind down, and when all the new players are accounted for. NBCUniversal’s Peacock, for example, has reached over 30 million subscribers as of January 2021, but the company hasn’t yet disclosed how many are paid subscribers.

Likewise, competitors are investing in content libraries to try and make up ground on Netflix and Disney. HBO Max is slated to start launching internationally in June 2021, and ViacomCBS rebranded and expanded CBS All Access into Paramount+.

And international growth is vital. Three of the top six video streaming services by subscribers are based in China, while Indian services Hotstar, ALTBalaji, and Eros Now all saw surges in subscriber bases, with more room left to grow.

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