In fast-growing economies, entrepreneurs play a key role in generating durable and inclusive growth. Asia's entrepreneurs can be found at the helm of start-ups, as well as companies with billions of dollars in market capitalization. Oftentimes, the sources of economic growth are assumed to be driven by top-down factors such as geography, demographics, natural resources or official policies. The role of entrepreneurs and businesses, however, cannot be overstated as they look to invest and innovate, creating growth in the process. Identifying entrepreneurial Asian companies that are true, long-term value creators requires a bottom-up investment process that draws on deep knowledge of local markets and a willingness to ignore the short-term noise and focus on long-term opportunities.
Small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), in particular, tend to be more entrepreneurial in nature, employing a nimble approach to pursuing and occasionally even creating new markets. Businesses that start small may evolve into mega-cap names with dominant roles in their respective markets. Investment strategies that include companies of all sizes can capture the growth potential of Asia's entrepreneurial businesses at every stage of development, from upstart to market leader.
To thrive, entrepreneurs require basic physical infrastructure, such as roads, highways and ports, as well as a regulatory environment that at least tries to address market failures and encourages fair and robust competition. They also require access to capital, talented employees and customers with growing purchasing power. Asia's progress on each of these fronts fuels our belief that Asia is likely to remain a preeminent source of growth over coming years. Here are five secular trends benefiting entrepreneurs that we believe make Asia a compelling destination for growth-oriented investors.
Trend #1: Rise of the Private Sector
Across the region, the continuing trend toward deregulation is supporting entrepreneurs. Deregulation of labor provides SMEs with an opportunity to build more flexible cost structures. Deregulation of ownership structures provides more flexible arrangements for raising capital and bringing on equity partners. Deregulation of natural resources means that commodities now trade in a more open marketplace and are priced based on demand and supply. And the start of liberalization of financial markets means that Asian businesses can attract both local and international capital. Policymakers increasingly recognize that the role of government should be to facilitate a healthy private sector and at times nudge it in the right direction.