Ambassador Hamamoto: GER Initiative Spurs Entrepreneurship on A Global Scale

UNCTAD Luncheon at U.S. Mission Geneva
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Remarks by Ambassador Hamamoto
As prepared for delivery

Good afternoon, everybody.  Thank you for joining me for this luncheon where we hope to promote and celebrate the early success of GER.co and the “Go Green by 2017” campaign.

Just to be clear, we are not here today to analyze our carbon footprint or our recycling habits.  This is a very different way of “going green.”

Today is about simplifying business registration on a global scale.  The goal is to establish a transparent, user-friendly business registration platform in every country — built around the Global Enterprise Registration website, or GER.co.  The graphics on that site tell the story quite clearly:  more green dots on the online rating scale indicate that more services are being offered to users in that country; in other words, a better, clearer business registration process‎.  Hence “going green.”

The Kauffman Foundation, one of the co-founders of this initiative, hit the nail on the head when they described it as “shifting entrepreneurship into high gear.”  Because that’s exactly what it will do.

Streamlining business registration via this global platform will spur entrepreneurship, save entrepreneurs time and money, reduce corruption, and help governments identify best practices.  Businesses and governments around the world deserve the tools to allow entrepreneurs now and in the future to flourish.  The “Go Green by 2017” initiative is designed to do just that.

I would like to thank Ambassador Londoño Soto from Colombia and our colleagues from Cameroon, Guatemala, Tanzania, and Luxembourg who are here today to share their experiences with the GER website.  As you will hear, although this initiative was just launched a year ago, the results are very promising!

For example, I understand that in Guatemala the time it takes to register a business online has gone from 47 days to only 14, which has obviously had a very positive impact on the number of companies and sole traders registered in the country’s Commercial Registry.

In Cameroon, it used to take one to two months to formally register a business.  It is now possible to create a company in less than 3 days. Today, entrepreneurs in more than 120 countries are benefitting from a simpler, more transparent, more effective online business registration process.  None of this would have been possible without UNCTAD’s business facilitation program.

I would like to recognize the work of UNCTAD’s Investment Division that has led the charge — Frank Grozel, Bita Mortazavi, and Vianney Lesaffre, who have invested countless hours in this promising effort.  Also James Zhan, the Director of the Division, for his steadfast support and leadership.  Their efforts have helped make starting a business easier for tens of thousands of people all over the world in the past year alone.

I’d also like to recognize Ann Low for the key role played by the U.S. Department of State.  Many of you already know Ann from her previous time in Geneva.  She is the architect of GER.co and a true friend to entrepreneurs and investors all over the world.

And it wouldn’t have been possible without the critical early investments in online business registration portals made by Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Germany, and the European Union.  Without their financial contributions, many of the business registration websites that are linked to GER.co would not exist today.  Thank you for your foresight and support!

The website already has a lot of green dots, but we need to see more.  We need more governments to launch their business registration websites.  And we need more governments to expand their services, to help empower entrepreneurs around the world to turn their dreams into reality.

I’m especially excited by the opportunities this creates for women entrepreneurs, who generally face higher obstacles when trying to start a new business.  Fortunately, research by the World Bank shows that female-run enterprises are steadily growing all over the world. We need initiatives like GER.co to nurture this trend by helping to level the playing field for women entrepreneurs and to allow their own creative spirit to flourish unconstrained by gender-limiting regulations or processes that have no place in the 21st Century.

It’s easy to see that for women and men alike, this is a powerful tool with the potential to drive significant economic benefits in both developed and developing countries.  You can help ensure that these benefits are realized.

And with that, I would like to turn it over to James Zhan, who will tell you more about the details of this program.

Thank you.