Portugal: One-stop shopping

Author: Maria Manuel Leitão Marques
Publication: SmartLessons 2007

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This lesson is part of the Doing Business series, written by “star reformers.” In 2005, entrepreneurs were required to complete 11 procedures that took an average of 78 days to start a business in Portugal, making it a slower process than in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As soon as new Prime Minister Jose Socrates took office in March of 2005, the planning for reform began.  Then, in just 4 months, Empresa Na Hora, the Portuguese one-stop shop for creating a company, was fully operational. Portugal is now one of the easiest countries to start a business in, taking only 7 procedures and the total cost has dropped to 3.4 percent of the gross national income (GNI). As head of Office of Public Services Reform, Maria Manuel Leitão Marques was responsible for bringing together the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economy, and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security—all involved in the process of starting a business—to make this change a reality.

Main Findings

  • Empresa Na Hora began in 12 locations. Once things were running smoothly in the original 12, staff from other cities was sent to be trained on site. It is now present in 60 locations.
  • It now takes only 46 minutes to start a business, compared to 53 minutes a few months ago.
  • Empresa Na Hora has been a success. More than 37,000 entrepreneurs choose to use its services, and this success has inspired other countries to seek assistance to reform.