Clinton School student Burt Hicks (’13) partnered with the Business Plus Initiative, a project funded by United States Agency for International Development and implemented by Chemonics International, to improve the company registration process in Mongolia.
Hicks conducted best practice research, which was used to inform reform discussions and ultimately create buy-in on the part of key stakeholders, including the Mongolian General Authority for State Registration, the USAID and the private sector. Hicks was also responsible for assisting with the solicitation and selection of an international information technology firm to design a customized online company registration system for Mongolia.
Although Mongolia’s economy is one of the fastest growing in the world, a significant portion of businesses in the country still operate in the so-called “shadow economy,” a direct consequence of the difficulty to formally register a business. According to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2013 report, Mongolia ranks 39th out of the 185 economies surveyed for the “Starting a Business” indicator.
The same report finds that it takes seven procedures and 12 days to officially register a new business in the country. However, the Government Reform Action Plan for 2012-2016, adopted by the Parliament in September 2012, requires businesses to be registered within one week. Thus, the need to transition from a paper-based company registration process to an online company registration process, modeled after international best practices.
“When we asked Burt to take the lead in the company registration reform area, we had high expectations,” said Uurtsaikh Sangi, Business Plus Initiative Deputy Chief of Party. “I can genuinely say that Burt’s work has exceeded those expectations.
Hicks’ thorough research provided government officials with international and regional best practices and references, which was essential in creating buy-in on the part of the national registration authority, Sangi said.
“His attention to detail was invaluable in the development of an official Request for Proposal for the design and implementation of an online company registration system and the evaluation process of the responses to that RFP,” Sangi said.
A concurrent degree student at the Clinton School and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, Hicks was pleased that the project combined his graduate studies.
“Working with the Business Plus Initiative has provided me with valuable international development experience in one of the world’s last frontier markets,” Hicks said. “More importantly, the project allowed me to apply skills gained from both my MPS and JD degrees.”
“Using the existing legal infrastructure, reforms were designed that will allow for the development of an online company registration process that will make it easier to formally register a business,” Hicks said. “This is an important issue for a developing country such as Mongolia because cumbersome procedures for starting a business have been linked to informality within the economy, a smaller tax base and more opportunities for corruption.”
Hicks completed the project as his final field service requirement in the Clinton School’s Master of Public Service degree program.