Best country for entrepreneurs?
A BBC World Service poll released in May ranked Indonesia among the countries most friendly to entrepreneurship, along with the U.S. and Canada. The poll, based on ease of starting a business and respect for creativity, ranked Egypt and Turkey at the bottom.
With a large population of youths who are social, tech enthusiasts eager to spend newfound disposable incomes, Indonesia has what it takes to support innovative start-ups. Indonesia is Facebook’s number two market outside the US and its third-largest Twitter base. The growth of affordable Internet-enabled mobile phones has also sped up the tech boom.
Nadiem Makarim, the young founder of Go-Jek, a motorcycle taxi company in Jakarta, represents the new face of business in Indonesia. A recent Harvard Business School graduate, he conceived the idea for his company while zooming through Jakarta’s gridlock on an ‘ojek’, one of Indonesia’s ubiquitous motorcycle taxis.
Makarim’s ambition to create a social enterprise that takes advantage of a market gap shows where Indonesia is headed as tech-savvy, often Western-educated youths build businesses catered toward improving their country.
A lack of infrastructure and access to finance, unfriendly regulations, and weighty bureaucracy pose some of the biggest hurdles to entrepreneurs. Companies, such as Go-Jek, exist to deal with those obstacles, while others are building their businesses online and taking advantage of low start-up costs, increasing connectivity, and the popularity of social media.
“Pioneering companies have more to gain, since they can essentially create the market”, said Leonard Theosabrata, the co-founder of Whiteboard Journal, an online space that incubates small businesses by helping them promote their products. “That’s the beauty of being in a country like this. It’s almost like the Wild West, it’s a frontier,” says Mr. Theosabrata.
Indonesia still has a long way to go if its small businesses are to create the growth officials hope to achieve. Entrepreneurs account for less than 0.2 % of the country’s work-force, hardly enough to create the jobs that will generate widespread prosperity.
Is Indonesia the friendliest country for entrepreneurs?