The business and investment climate for private sector actors in Yemen has long been challenging. The current conflict has expanded and magnified these changes such that today Yemen is last or near last in a host of global business competitiveness indexes. Many businesses across the country have closed and moved their capital elsewhere, while many of those that remain open have had to make drastic cuts to their workforces. However, relative to the public sector – which has seen the near collapse of most government institutions – the private sector has shown a far greater degree of resilience. Businesses have stepped in to replace absent government services in many areas, allowing access to basic commodities and providing livelihoods for millions of Yemenis.
The surest means of laying the foundations for private sector recovery in Yemen, and indeed recovery for the country overall, is to end the ongoing conflict and reunify public institutions and governance mechanisms. While the conflict is ongoing, however, there are still practical, realistic steps national and international stakeholders can take to support the Yemeni private sector. Doing so would in turn help spur economic growth and job creation for a destitute population. It would also potentially initiate a cascade of positive developments in Yemen: easing the humanitarian crisis, bolstering socio-economic and political stability, and restarting formal financial cycles, among others.