A New Global Growth Engine

November 29, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Entrepreneurs running sophisticated companies with the potential to create millions of jobs in the developing world are often overlooked by outsiders, say Deirdre Coyle Jr. and Anne Habiby

Phanindra Sama will tell you the reason he became an entrepreneur is that he missed a bus. In 2005, he was trying to get from Bangalore to his hometown of Nizamabad for Diwali, the annual Hindu festival of lights. But tickets, available only at the bus station, had sold out before he could buy one.

That inspired Sama, then an engineer designing digital chips for Texas Instruments (TXN), to create redBus, a website and a network of kiosks, newsstands, and small retailers where customers can see schedules and buy tickets for thousands of bus routes across India. RedBus, which sold 1.8 million tickets in 2009, now has more than 200 employees and is heading toward sales of $30 million this year from commissions and fees paid by bus lines. “The operators had never used any technology of any kind,” says Sama, 30. “We demonstrated how [we] could help them grow their business.”

Young, dynamic entrepreneurs like Sama are showing up all over the emerging world, building companies that could create new industries—and millions of jobs. But fast-growing developing-world companies like Sama’s often stall out because few outsiders know they exist. And their markets offer little in the way of entrepreneurial infrastructure such as venture capital firms eager to invest, small business banking services, and targeted government programs such as loan guarantees. Hoping to identify the most dynamic businesses in the developing world and raise their profile, we teamed up with Harvard management professor Michael E. Porter to found AllWorld Network. We have surveyed 300 fast-growth companies from Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia.

Source: Deirdre Coyle Jr. and Anne Habiby, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Special Report, November 17, 2010

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Entry filed under: entrepreneurship, Innovation.

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