Wealth through value creation. Opportunity from solving problems. That is what business and entrepreneurship is about, and right now we live in the best time in the history of man to start a business. However, the opportunity to start a business is not in the old world – Europe, the US, The West.
The west is broken, the examples are too numerous to list, and the writing is on the wall. Plenty of other intelligent emerging entrepreneurs and investors are all saying the same thing: the party is over in the west. If you want to get rich: go east young man. Guys like Jim Rogers and Marc Faber, and the infamous Simon Black (who, for the record, is a real person – an intelligent and authentic international investor, but orders very girly drinks at the bar…)
In case you aren’t convinced…
Writing. On. Wall.
You don’t have to go down with the sinking ship. You have the ability and the freedom to change your location, pioneer into a new, fresh economy. With a bit of planning you can plant a flag in an emerging economy. Here are 7 that should be on your radar.
Thailand is South East Asia for tourists. It is unlikely you will catch a glimpse of the Real Thailand during your first, second, or even third trip. Indeed, many places are like this, but Thailand has an outer shell that caters specifically to tourists. What I’m driving at is that when you go to a place like Phuket, or Krabi – you can have a good time, but there isn’t a good business to start there, you probably will meet a bunch of bogan aussie tourists, and then return home.
Overall you just won’t get to experience the REAL Thailand.
Unlike the other places on this list, Thailand is a place where people go mostly to vacation, not in search of opportunity. There is plenty of business opportunity in Thailand, you just need to know where to look, and you absolutely have to know the right people. Thai laws surrounding business are complicated and restrictive to foreign investment for the most part.
Company Law in Thailand | Amity Law
However, the laws have subtle details that allow attuned and well-connected businessmen to succeed. For instance foreigners are restricted to 49% ownership of companies – BUT there is a provision in the law which allows for Americans to own a different type of company, and own %100 of a business (with other restrictions, such as amount of shareholders and restricted business types) through a provision in the Amity treaty – sometimes called an “Amity Company” for short. However, you can’t own land with this company, and in almost cases you will not be allowed to own land in a company where you are a majority shareholder unless you have specific permission from the Board of Investment (BOI). Navigating business law in a foreign country is not for the meek, but it is extremely important to set up your business with a proper foundation of incorporation.
Burma is a country that is exploding with opportunity right now. Strategically situated between China and India, Myanmar finally opened up last spring to a wave of foreign investment. I know a person who made $50,000 his first week in the country, he hadn’t even incorporated yet and people were literally throwing cash at him for the services he could provide (which, by the way, he had never done before in his life before he set foot in the country).
Myanmar will undergo extreme growth over the next few decades as it catches up with the rest of SE Asia. Popular plays include serviced hotels and offices, legal services, tax services, any type of service will be in high demand. The entire value chain is up for grabs, and almost every private equity investor I meet is doing something in Burma, or currently searching for investment opportunities there. If you want to see how to set up a company in Burma, see this article, or leave a message with Jessica.
Bring your jacket, its freaking cold here, but there is tons of opportunity in Mongolia. The country is growing at over 15% per year. That is insane growth, but its being fueled by a commodity boom. Time will tell if the country can also shift resources to other sectors. I quite like this emerging markets interview about the country and entrepreneurs who have gone there to set up shop.
In many emerging economies, it takes a leap of faith to leave the comfort of home in search of something better. You have to be willing to live like no one else is willing now, so you can live like no one else can, later.
Everyone I talk to that has cash to spend on Emerging markets is going, has been, or is considering Africa – but they aren’t sure on the timing. With 60% of the world’s arable land, it’s an obvious choice. You have to be careful about what country you go into, and I highly recommend that you find a local partner on the ground. This is important in any of these locations, but Africa in particular due to language barriers in many countries. I met some entrepreneurs the other day who are getting funding from the Middle East to build secure car parks in strategic locations in Ethiopia.
This is a sleeper pick. You can get permanent residency in Paraguay rather easily, and even citizenship, and the country has a large amount of cheap and fertile farmland. Great place for many different types of flags. Less expensive than Ecuador or Uruguay due in part to its landlocked location, Paraguay is somewhat undeveloped – which places it in a great place for growth over the coming years.
Particularly when food shortages in other countries in South America, Paraguay could see its exports rise, and farmland appreciate in value.
If Paraguay was a sleeper pick, this is a more obvious choice. Coming off a recent civil war which decimated the country’s economy for decades, Sri Lanka has a need for basic services. For instance, only 10% of the people in this country own a smart phone. Huge opportunity in Sri Lanka in almost every sector. Very similar to Myanmar in that respect, except because Sri Lanka is not strategically located between other emerging markets, most businesses would likely be a play on the local market IN Sri Lanka. Due to the poor population, you would be wise to pick a basic need first and then go up the value chain. However it is clear that Sri Lanka needs a lot of help, and those who are able to solve problems in this country will be rewarded with ample compensation.
You could easily miss this country, or visit for a short trip and immediately dismiss it outright. However, the Philippines are where a surprising amount of stuff goes down. There is opportunity in many different sectors, and it’s not difficult to penetrate into the inner circle of key players who run the country with a few connections and a little bit of money. You’ll find scuba guys on vacation, expats, and the special type of entrepreneur building a business in an emerging economy leveraging currency arbitrage.
These guys have been around the block a few times and understand that there is hidden opportunity in the Philippines that you might not catch at first glance. For starters, in terms of value, Pinoy are perhaps the very best workers in the entire world. You won’t find a first rate python programmer or slick designer – but for basic human labor, there is a virtually unlimited supply. The most popular businesses are call centers, and outsourcing centers. Dollars go very, very far when converted into PHP.