Entrepreneurship Goes Global

Among the global economic upheavals of the past two decades, here’s one worth cheering about: the worldwide spread of entrepreneuriship. Anyone who doubts that should have headed to Monaco last weekend for the World Entrepreneur of the Year awards ceremony.

The 42 countries represented at the event included China and several former Soviet-bloc nations - places where starting a private business was illegal not so long ago. In other countries, the weakening of traditional business structures, such as Korean chaebol, have created opportunities for smaller players. Tax and regulatory reform, the lowering of protectionist barriers, technological advances and the rise of the Internet, all have made it easier — though certainly not easy - to create and build a business.

Ernst & Young started the competition in the U.S. in 1986 and expanded it worldwide 10 years ago. More than two-thirds of this year’s 5,000 contestants were from outside the U.S. The finalists included the heads of emerging-market powerhouses such as Indian industrial conglomerate Mahindra Group, and Geely Automobile Holdings, a Chinese automaker that recently bought Volvo, and dozens of lesser-known success stories.

This year’s winner was Michael Spencer, the founder and chief executive of London-based ICAP. Spencer started the company in 1986 with $45,000. It’s now a $2.7 billion-a-year business that is the world’s No. 1 inter-dealer brokerage, serving as an intermediary for trading between financial institutions. In starting a company, “I knew there was a serious chance of failure,” Spencer says. “But we fought our way out of setbacks.”

Indeed, many of these entrepreneurs have shown a remarkable ability to use adversity as a springboard for growth. Take Indrek Sepp of Estonia, who started AS Pristis, the biggest security company in the Baltics. Sepp started installing car alarms to make extra money while a student in the early 1990s. When revenues flagged after automakers began installing alarms in new cars, he started installing alarm systems. That worked fine - until the housing market in the Baltics collapsed when recession hit two years ago. Undeterred, Sepp moved into the security-guard business last year, buying one of the region’s biggest security-services companies. Says Sepp: “It’s because of the crisis that we were able to purchase this company,” which was being unloaded by its corporate parent at a bargain price.

Another finalist in the competition, Korean entrepreneur Hyeon Joo Park, spotted opportunity in the Asian financial crisis of the 1990s. He started Korea’s first mutual fund in 1998 when that country’s equity market “was the most undervalued in the world,” he recalls. As share prices began rising, investors flocked to his Mirae Asset Global Investments group, which specializes in emerging-market equities. Today it has $45 billion in assets under management and operates in eight countries, including the U.S.

Ernst & Young CEO Jim Turley says his firm last year surveyed entrepreneur-led companies, comparing their responses to the global recession with the responses of longer-established multinationals. “Two-thirds of the entrepreneurs reported they were seeking new opportunities,” he says, while only 20% of the older companies were doing so. “The entrepreneurs are the only ones adding jobs.”

That finding wouldn’t startle anyone in the U.S., where entrepreneurship has long been seen as a key engine of economic growth. But elsewhere in the world, the emergence of a new generation of resourceful and resilient business people is very big news indeed.

Given entrepreneurship’s increasingly global dimension, it’s probably fitting that the U.S. finalist in this year’s competition was Tom Adams, CEO of Rosetta Stone, a company that makes software to help people learn foreign languages.

View the original article here

0 komentar:

Posting Komentar