BEGIN. “The easiest place in the world to do business.” (For 4 years in a row, according to the World Bank) “Located at the center of a burgeoning Southeast Asia startup boom.” “A dynamic global city.” “The most competitive country in the world.” Yes, all of this praise is about the same country: Singapore. It doesn’t even stop there. In its Doing Business 2010 report, the World Bank went on to rank Singapore #4 in the world for starting a business, #2 for protecting investors, and #1 for trading across borders.
As the business world is abuzz about China’s economic growth these days (and rightly so), Singapore is busy building its own empire of success while serving as the hub of Asia. And wow has the country risen quickly. The Republic of Singapore (just 4.6 million people) was founded as an independent country less than 50 years ago (1965) and it has already garnered many positions in the top rankings around the world (as mentioned above in many research reports that I have provided links to).
To try to gain an understanding of Singapore’s lightning fast rise and (perhaps, more importantly) the future of Singapore, I interviewed Benny Lee a few months ago while I was studying abroad at the National University of Singapore. Benny is the Founder and Managing Director of Benroth International.
SEGMENT 3: If you enjoy listening to my “Uncle Benny” (as I came to call him) as much as I do, don’t miss a beat and go watch my segment with him on the keys to doing business in China.
SEGMENT 2: If you’re still craving more, go arm yourself with the most important tactics in a successful exporting strategy to Asia by watching the 2nd segment of my interview with Benny.
SEGMENT 1: And lastly, if you want to know more about Benny and his entrepreneurial story then go watch my 1st segment with him: “Singapore Entrepreneur Benny Lee Talks About Getting Started“.
Without further ado, here are some of my notes from the interview:
I. Language Advantages:
Singapore speaks great English. Other regions in Asia are not as proficient with English, and according to Benny some are not even experts at Chinese! Many Singaporeans speak Malay. Very large educated (especially technically and engineering) labor force.
(NOTE: I tried to research this and found that Singapore has a 96.3% literacy rate, 89.6% secondary or higher qualifications of education, and for what it’s worth is rated by the World Bank as 2nd in Asia for having the most motivated workforce).
II. What’s NEXT:
Benny is working hard to establish the Outsourced Regional Office model as a way for companies to set up shop in Singapore and have access to all of the Asia markets. He strongly believes that Singapore needs to once and for all solidify itself to the western world as the gateway to Asia. He has a solution: the government ought to develop a very special tool, a network of ORO consultants, to help the small and medium enterprises in America come out to Asia.
Singapore has been a center of commerce since 1819. As for ‘competition’, Shanghai is catching up quickly to Hong Kong and Singapore.
III. ENTREPRENEURSHIP in Singapore:
The government is supporting and promoting entrepreneurship in Singapore. And for good reason: with globalization and all the competition from neighbors, the future of Singapore will depend on its ability to cultivate entrepreneurship. This is major. I actually met Uncle Benny at an entrepreneurship conference at the National University of Singapore. Culturally, Benny says that Singaporeans will always avoid open confrontation (NOTE: students do not question lecturers – I can speak to this). However, the older generation is trying to push students to voice their questions to lecturers, to think different, and to harness their own creativity.
IV. Singapore Currently & The Future
Singapore is only 45 years old as a nation, and yet already plays a very important role in Asia. The future of Asia will certainly be largely impacted by the future of Singapore…and the cultural acceptance and governmental encouragement of entrepreneurship is growing. Singapore’s future is bright. Trustworthy. Benny says that corruption is very, very low and looked down upon (NOTE: I researched this and Benny is 110% correct about this assertion – the World Bank ranked Singapore 4th in the world and 1st in Asia for having the least corruption in its economy).
If you have any chance to go to Singapore…take it. And if your company is considering expanding to Asia’s rapidly growing markets, Singapore might be your best gateway. Meanwhile…personal note: I am a rookie when it comes to blogging, writing, and interviewing. Without your feedback, it will be very challenging to improve and bring you better and better content. Solution? You comments baby. See you in the comments! END.