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IFC Helps Improve Business Environment in Solomon Islands with Startup Reform

Honiara, Solomon Islands, April 22, 2010 —IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has collaborated with the Solomon Islands’ Ministry of Commerce, Labor and Immigration to create a digitized list of registered businesses, improving business startup processes by making it easier for first-time business owners to obtain approval of their company name.
IFC worked on the project with high-level members of the business community as well as the government.  The reform recommendation was a response to the World Bank Groups’ Doing Business 2010 report, which ranks Solomon Islands 111 th in terms of starting a business.
Registering a business—whether it is a sole trader business, partnership firm, or limited liability company—involves finding out if the name is already registered.  The Ministry of Commerce’s former practice was to record business names on cards or in logbooks and file them in the Register of Companies, which is located in the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Survey.
“In the past, records were difficult to access, which meant businesses waited up to 17 days to get approval of their company name,” said Francis Billy Hilly, Minister of Commerce, Labor and Immigration.  “Now businesses can find out instantly if the name they intend to operate under is in use or not.”
The new electronic registry has about 9,000 business names and 2,300 company names listed.  Businesses can go to the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Survey to check the lists or visit the Invest in the Solomon Islands Website ( www.investsolomon.com ).  Soon businesses will also be able to access the lists on the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce home page ( www.solomonchamber.com.sb ).  Staff at the Foreign Investment Division will update the names monthly.
“Reform would not have been possible without the support of public and private representatives from the Business Licensing and Administration Reform Steering Committee,” said Jonathon Kirkby, IFC Investment Climate Manager for the Pacific.  “We look forward to continuing our work with the committee to improve the ease of doing business in Solomon Islands.”
IFC is working with the Solomon Islands’ government to improve the business environment, supporting economic growth and job creation through private sector development.  The governments of Australia and Japan support IFC’s program in Solomon Islands.
About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We foster sustainable economic growth in developing countries by supporting private sector development, mobilizing capital for private enterprise, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. Our new investments totaled $14.5 billion in fiscal 2009, helping channel capital into developing countries during the financial crisis. For more information, visit www.ifc.org .