Private Sector


World Bank embarks on pilot phase of Business Ready Project, disregarding civil society concerns

9 April 2024

The World Bank has started the pilot 1 phase of its Business Ready (B-READY) project – the successor of the discontinued Doing Business Report (DBR; see Observer Summer 2023, Summer 2021, Autumn 2020) – which will collect and analyse data on 51 economies, while ignoring civil society concerns.
In a March 2021 open letter 360 civil society organisations (CSOs), trade unions and individuals raised concerns about the DBR methodology, which rewarded countries for policies that exacerbated inequality, and eroded labour protections and domestic resource mobilisation capacity. Although presented as an improved version of its predecessor, Bank watchers argue that B-READY is just a form of “label washing” (see Dispatch Annuals 2023), and as noted in a CSO submission to the consultation process of its first iteration, the Business Enabling Environment (BEE) project, is being developed without challenging DBR’s flawed “private-sector first” agenda (see Observer Spring 2022).

“Our members across the African continent face an unprecedented set of crises including unpayable debt, climate change, harrowing unemployment, the digital transition, and geopolitical conflict. When the whole world is looking for solutions to build a more sustainable, equitable, and peaceful world, the World Bank is doubling down on failed ideas. As it is written, B-READY promotes a race to the bottom in labour standards and governance, and it will leave our peoples (particulary women) and our countries less prepared to meet the challenges of the day,” said Joel Odigie of ITUC Africa.

The first release of 51 economies this year marks the beginning of a three-part process, with the Bank adding new countries each year. While the Bank plans to revise its methodology based on its results, there is currently no open consultation process planned or additional review by the Bank’s board of directors.