Informal Businesses

The Informal Sector Enterprise Surveys are produced by the Enterprise Analysis Unit to measure the characteristics and activities of unregistered businesses. These informal businesses are found almost everywhere, yet they are often missing from official records, listings of active businesses, and business-level surveys. The Informal Sector Enterprise ­­Surveys fill this data gap by following a rigorous survey methodology, implemented in ways that fit the unique characteristics of the sector. The surveys use tailored questionnaires and a sampling strategy which is geographically based and which discovers these businesses while also generating representative samples – Adaptive Cluster Sampling. This page provides additional information on the findings, methodology, and coverage of these surveys.

The indicators presented here provide a snapshot of the informal sector based on these surveys. All survey datasets are available from the data portal

The WBES team has recently (as of June 8, 2022) recomputed sampling weights for the Informal Sector Enterprise Surveys, in particular, the recent surveys for cities in India, Iraq, Lao PDR, Mozambique, Somalia, and Zambia. The main revisions involve recalculation for (i) blocks enumerated through strata-crossing (i.e., where enumeration from a given strata expanded into block(s) of a different stratum), and (ii) edge units.

The following table summarizes where Informal Sector Enterprise Surveys have been conducted to date.  All datasets are freely available to registered users of the website data portal.


Completed Surveys

Planned Surveys

East Asia & Pacific

Lao PDR: Pakse, Vientiane

Cambodia: Battambang, Phnom Penh, Siemreap and Siahnoukville

Indonesia: Jakarta, Surabaya, Denpasar, Medan, Pontianak, Makassar

Latin America & Caribbean

PeruLima and Trujillo


Middle East & North Africa

Iraq: Baghdad, Basra, Najaf, Sulaymaniyah


South Asia         

BangladeshDhaka, Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar

India: Hyderabad, Jaipur,  Kochi,  Ludhiana,  Mumbai,  Sehore,  Surat,  Tezpur,  Varanasi



Sub-Saharan Africa

Central African Republic: Bangui, Berberati

Ghana: Accra, Kumasi, Tamale

Mozambique: Beira, Maputo, Nampula

Somalia: Basaso, Mogadishu

Sudan: Khartoum, Omdurman, Port Sudan

Zambia: Kitwe, Lusaka, Ndola

Zimbabwe: Harare

Tanzania: Dar es Salaam

Democratic Republic of Congo: Kinshasa, Bunia, Bukavu, Goma, Matadi, Mbuji-Mayi, Kananga, Kisangani and Lubumbashi

Prior to 2015, several informal surveys were conducted, primarily using a convenience sampling approach. In particular, in EAP: Cambodia, in LAC: Argentina, Guatemala, Peru, in MENA: Arab Republic of Egypt, in SAR: Afghanistan, in AFR: Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Rwanda. Please note that informal sector business surveys were also conducted in Myanmar and Nepal, and the businesses were identified through simple area-based sampling.