While the US economy is languishing, there are numerous opportunities abroad in high growth markets. However, before diving headfirst into any given market, it makes sense to spend time in the country, absorb the culture, and see if it makes sense for your specific goals as an aspiring international entrepreneur. The best way to immerse yourself in a low-pressure environment is to study abroad in a high growth economy. This week, we’ll pick out our favorite Asian hubs for aspiring international entrepreneurs.
If you are still in university or are a Gen Y professional looking for promising opportunities abroad, here are some of the destinations we suggest you check out. If you go to these hubs in the context of undergraduate study abroad, find a mentor entrepreneur who is working in your general area of interest and absorb as much knowledge as possible. If you are a Gen Y graduate already working or looking for a new challenge, consider getting an advanced degree at the top local university in your destination abroad.
An MBA abroad could be useful if you are particularly committed to the destination you choose. The best universities and programs in most emerging markets are usually located in the country’s capital city, which is likely where you would be ending up. As such, if you enrolled in this program you would have access to top professors and the business community at large. You might even get a full scholarship or, at the very least, have a significantly more cost effective education.
Let’s get started.
Ah, Singapore. I’ve never had a love/hate relationship as strong as I do with this wealthy, pro-business, clean city-state with such a sheep-like populace, sterile urban environment, and nanny-state level of control.
As mentioned above, Singapore is a city-state of about 5 million located at the tip of peninsular Malaysia.
Singapore can justifiably be called the de-facto “Capital of Asia.” It’s a bona-fide international business and banking hub and uses English as an official language. Taxes are low, the visa policy is friendly, and transportation is efficient and immaculate. You’ll feel welcome here. It’s incredibly safe and the population is very diverse, comprising mostly of ethnic Chinese, Indians, and Malays.
The Singaporean government is making an aggressive push to position itself as a tech and startup hub in Asia. While it is unlikely that Singapore will ever rival Silicon Valley as a true global startup hub, there is definitely a lot of capital available through formal and informal channels for ambitious tech entrepreneurs. If you are a gifted developer, designer, or simply an experienced web entrepreneur of some sort, Singapore would be a good destination. If you speak Malay or Bahasa Indonesia, it could also be a promising location; many startups that target these two markets are based in Singapore and use it as a hub to tackle larger markets in the ASEAN region.
You can use this as a base to build your internet business empire.
Pearl River Delta (Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Hong Kong)
The Pearl River Delta, in the context of business, is a cluster of economically vibrant cities in Guangdong province in South China. The major cities that are generally included in this classification are Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou.
The Pearl River Delta’s history is relatively unglamorous in the context of China’s long history and among China’s “Nine Nations.”
Sure, the Pearl River Delta lacks the thousands of years of imperial history that Beijing and Nanjing can boast. The mainland cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou are clearly not held in the same regard, domestically and abroad, as Shanghai – a city that is commonly referred to as “The New York of China.” However, it is for these reasons that you should check out the Pearl River Delta urban hubs, instead of avoiding them. While thousands of other students funnel themselves into Beijing and Shanghai to get a cookie cutter China experience, you will be forging a path as a trailblazing American.
Guangdong province in China is undoubtedly the world’s manufacturing center. You can get anything and everything you want designed, prototyped, built in mass, and then shipped out from here. While entrepreneurs have traditionally had their products built here and then shipped abroad, massive changes in China’s economy are causing structural shifts in the kinds of businesses that might want to operate here. Namely, rising wages and an increasingly strong currency are making China less attractive as a manufacturing hub as it once was.
However, if Gen-Y is known for anything it is for being adaptable multi-taskers accustomed to rapidly changing trends. As Guangzhou-based entrepreneurs Tim Nybo and Nick Ramil over at The Elevator Life have shown us, there are massive opportunities available in the other end of the spectrum – importing high quality American goods into China. These savvy grads showed up in Guangzhou after graduation and are forging their own entrepreneurial paths.
These cities are all fairly different from each other. Shenzhen is much more of a mainland city and the de facto language here, despite being in Guangdong, is not Cantonese – it’s Mandarin. This is due to its role as a major South Chinese destination for migrant workers looking for a better life. Shenzhen’s role in modern history has largely been defined by the fact that it is right next to Hong Kong and has been a laboratory for capitalism ever since China embraced capitalism.
Hong Kong is a well-known hub everywhere in the world. We at Career Hack adore Hong Kong as a business base and have our company registered there. Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China and its legal system, political system, and role is dramatically different than that of any other city in greater China. It is a major economic player unto itself and should be treated differently than Shenzhen and Guangzhou, which are very much mainland cities.
The name of the game here is import/export. Whether you are getting products made here to ship abroad or importing high-end goods into China, the Pearl River Delta will offer you tremendous opportunities.
Universities to consider in the Pearl River Delta include Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), University of Hong Kong, Chinese University of Hong Kong, and City University of Hong Kong.