Starting a new business isn’t as simple as coming up with an idea.
In addition to the time investment needed to formulate and create a business, there’s often a hefty capital requirement. A new business usually requires paying different fees for licensing, permits, and approvals, and many governments also have minimum on-hand capital requirements.
And costs are relative. Though it might be more costly to start a business in some countries on paper, affordability also takes into account relative income.
These graphics from BusinessFinancing.co.uk use data from the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report to examine the startup cost for a small-to-medium-size LLC in the largest business cities across 190 countries.
The Cost of Starting a Business in Different Countries
From a pure cost perspective, the affordability of starting a business is extremely dependent on where you are located.
Some countries make the cost of business extremely low to encourage more economic activity. Others have high or nearly inaccessible fees to protect existing businesses, or to simply cash in on the entrepreneurial spirit.
|Country||Cost (2020 USD)||% of Monthly Income|
|Congo (Democratic Republic of the)||80||2.39|
|Trinidad and Tobago||115||0.1|
|Micronesia, Federated States of||231||0.82|
|Papua New Guinea||459||2.71|
|Central African Republic||529||14.55|
|United States of America||725||0.16|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||833||1.93|
|Congo (Republic of the)||1229||25.46|
|Antigua and Barbuda||1271||-%|
|United Arab Emirates||7444||2.23|
At a glance, the cheapest regions for starting a business include Central Asia and Africa.
But the cheapest countries on the dollar for a new startup are Venezuela, Rwanda, and Slovenia. While the former does have fees that only total $0.21, both Rwanda and Slovenia have no fees for new businesses, though Slovenia does have a capital requirement of €7,500.
Expensive countries for new businesses are also spread across the world. There are some in Europe, including Italy at $4,876 and Austria at $2,475, as well as the Americas, including Suriname at $3,030 and Ecuador at $1,630.
The most expensive countries, however, are largely in the Middle East. They include #1 UAE at $7,444, #4 Qatar at $3,952, and #6 Lebanon at $2,855.
Which Country is the Most Affordable for Starting a Business?
Just as costs vary by country, so too does relative affordability.
Though some countries are cheaper than others for starting a business on the dollar, the picture changes when accounting for monthly income. When it comes to the cost of starting a business relative to monthly income, many developed countries take the cake.
Not including countries with missing data, the most affordable countries for starting a business include the UK, Denmark, and Ireland in Europe, South Korea in East Asia, and New Zealand in Oceania. Startup costs in each range from just 1%-2% of monthly income.
The picture is similar in the Americas, where Chile and Canada have the lowest relative fees at 2% and 5% of monthly income respectively. Even the U.S.—which has a decently high cost of $725 for starting a business—is relatively affordable at 16% of monthly income.
Some of the least affordable countries lie in the Middle-East and Central America. Haiti and Suriname have startup costs that are 1,403% and 1,114% of monthly income, while Yemen has affordability rates of 1,070%.
But the least affordable countries are in Africa. Many countries on the continent have startup costs that are more than 100% of monthly income, but the Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic have affordability rates of 2,546% and 1,455% of monthly income, respectively.
Where is the best place to start a business? It can depend on the barrier to entry. But the biggest barrier takes time and ingenuity: finding the right idea at the right time.