World Entrepreneur Of The Year
The best entrepreneurs from around the world will gather in Monte Carlo for World Entrepreneur Of The Year on 5-9 June.
For the 13th year we celebrate the fresh thinking, hard work and positive social change brought about by their energy and innovation. The World Entrepreneur Of The Year Award will recognize, honor and celebrate the contributions of over 50 very special business leaders. On Saturday evening, 8 June, all the country winners will be inducted into the World Entrepreneur Of The Year Hall of Fame. Following the induction ceremony, the World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013 winner will be announced.
Learn more about this outstanding group of entrepreneurs below.
Martín Migoya founded software company Globant in 2003 with just US$5,000. His goal was to build a company that would position Argentina as a powerhouse in the Latin American technology industry. Today Globant is one of Latin America’s leading software providers, working for some of the biggest companies in the world and exporting over 95% of its turnover to the US and England. It has revenues of US$130m and employs more than 3,200 people in Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay and the US. Martin sits on the boards of several organizations including Endeavor, a movement that supports high-impact entrepreneurs. He has received numerous awards.
Former school teacher Anthony Podesta risked his family’s home to take a business from start-up to a top 200 Australian Securities Exchange company.
Spotting a clear gap in the market created by government legislation, he launched an outsourced salary package service in 1989. Today, that business has grown to include vehicle leasing, fleet management, financing and insurance.
Anthony has also been active in shaping the salary legislative landscape in Australia so that millions of workers can now benefit from flexible pay arrangements.
McMillan Shakespeare is now an AUS$ 1b (US$ 1.03b) top 200 ASX company, with 700 employees.
Turning science fiction into reality, Austria’s Guger Technology is the brainchild of two post-graduate entrepreneurs, Christoph Guger and Günter Edlinger, whose medical and electrical engineering company is now the leading provider of brain-computer interface systems. Such systems power the real-time processing of brain signals, technology that is now being put to good use in patient care – for instance paralyzed patients are now able to communicate through Twitter with just the power of brain activity.
Launched in 1999, the company’s flexible corporate structure allows for the development of its innovative systems, including miniature implants that will contribute to many neurological procedures, including high- definition functional cortical atlases.
Guido Vanherpe’s story is one of persistence and pride. His family company, La Lorraine Bakery Group (LLBG), rose from the ashes of a factory fire in 2008, to become one of Europe’s leading bread suppliers, delivering fresh bread to 1,500 supermarkets and exporting its products to more than 25 European countries.
LLBG seized the opportunity to expand its business across central and Eastern Europe by selling frozen ‘bake-off’ products into post-communist countries, where there was a growing demand for more diverse types of high-quality bread.
A key innovation has been Panos, LLBG’s store-concept brand, which sells ready-to-eat sandwiches through 250 outlets across Europe.
Marco Stefanini founded his eponymous company in 1987 to provide IT training services. Since then, Stefanini IT Solutions has become an outsourcing giant with more than 16,000 employees across 30 countries and target revenues of US$1.2b for 2013. Over the years, Marco has been recognized for his significant contribution to the outsourcing industry. He has twice been named on industry website Nearshore Americas’ ‘Top 50 Power Rankings’ of Latin American outsourcing providers and he has also been inducted into the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals’ Hall of Fame. Marco founded the non-profit Stefanini Institute to provide free IT training to disadvantaged children in Brazil.
Dr. Alan Ulsifer’s vision for FYidoctors was clear – to bring together a cooperative of eye doctors to ensure that patient care came ahead of profit, and in the process create Canada’s largest independent eye care product and service provider.
Formed in 2008, FYidoctors has grown to over 100 locations, over 250 eye doctors and over 1,200 employees whose primary focus is on creating an exceptional patient eye care experience. Through the power of vertical integration, FYidoctors has invested in state-of-the art diagnostic equipment, exclusive custom lens manufacturing and a wide selection of premium and exclusive frames."
Jorge Pacheco was born into a peasant family on Isla Tenglo, an island in southern Chile. He started working with his brother Ivar at the age of 14, first as a fisherman and then as a shellfish diver. In 1977, he and Ivar founded Oxxean, now a major provider of maritime services and an employer of more than 500 people. Its main activities include rescue of ships in distress, professional diving, cleaning and inspection of vessels and refloating of sunken ships. It also owns two ports. In 2007, Jorge was named as an Endeavor Entrepreneur by international non-profit organization Endeavor Global.
China Hong Kong
Michael Wu has taken Maxim’s, which was founded in 1956, from its core business of restaurants, fast food and bakery outlets to become Hong Kong’s leading catering company, operating more than 770 outlets in Hong Kong and China.
His success includes bringing coffee culture to Hong Kong through the introduction of Starbucks, and the creation of m.a.x. concepts and a Japanese restaurant chain. Michael’s ambition is to create a leading catering group in Asia, one that can claim to be the best managed through high standard of quality and innovation.
Through innovation and being an early mover, Ma Weihua has taken China Merchants Bank from a single remote branch with 30 employees to a RMB 200b capital bank with 900 outlets and 50,000 employees. A number of ‘firsts’ – online banking, dual currency and multi-function bank cards, and wealth management services for very high-net worth individuals - have seen rapid growth for the Shanghai and Hong Kong listed bank.
Ma puts this success down to understanding the impact of progress in the Chinese economy, society and technology, and how this affects the way people live and work.
Mario Hernandez is a name synonymous throughout Latin America and beyond with high-quality fashion. From his first leather garment store, which opened in Bogota in 1972, he has grown a business that employs 500 staff, with operations in China, Italy, Brazil and Colombia and a network of 45 stores around the world. The business is based on his vision to control the whole leather goods production process, from design, material selection and manufacture.
A committed social entrepreneur, Mario has provided homes for more than 25 of his workers, supports educational workshops and is actively fighting to preserve the Colombian butterfly.
Starting from a small grocery store in Karlovy Vary, in the Czech Republic, in 1992, František Piškanin has shown how drive and determination can be harnessed to grow an international logistics business. Now employing 3,300 people in many central and Eastern European countries, HOPI delivers products to many of the region’s leading supermarket chains.
With an impressive client list that includes P&G, Unilever and Makro, Piškanin is now looking to consolidate HOPI’s leading position in frozen products by building more frozen plants. Describing his company as having a Czech heart with an international body, Piškanin puts HOPI’s success down to a family approach combined with unique knowhow.
Jan Jacobsen and Anders Østergaard launched Monjasa 10 years ago with just two computers and a telephone. Today it is one of the world’s leading suppliers of marine fuel products, employing 450 people around the world, with revenues of around US$2b and a presence in 1,500 ports.
Driven by a spirit of curiosity and creativity, the pair’s core services include all aspects of bunkering, lubricants and oil cargo, trading and offshore activities managed from offices in Denmark, Dubai, Singapore and New York.
Monjasa sponsors many corporate citizenship projects, which focus on education, the environment and community relations.
Ruth Oltjer, a doctor of medicine, founded Chemi-Pharm in 1997, out of personal need for allergen-free disinfectants. In 2000 Chemi-Pharm began production in Estonia and today the company has 5000 loyal customers in all over the world.
The company supplies to the majority of hospitals in Estonia alongside many other establishments, as well as exporting its products throughout the EU and Eastern Europe and Asia.
After a Finnish hospital accidentally sold a PC containing the medical records of 3,000 patients, Kim Väisänen developed a 100% secure data erasure software for wiping all data from hard disk drives. Within four years, Blancco had 1 million users.
Military, defense, police, banking and IT asset reseller organizations around the world, now use Blancco’s products. Every day, tens of thousands of IT assets are sanitized, analyzed and tested using Blancco’s solutions.
New compliance and legislative requirements in data security make secure erasure more challenging, but Blancco is committed to working alongside its clients to help them manage these challenges.
Believing that the recycling revolution is on a par with the industrial revolution, Jean-Luc Petithuguenin has taken a small company with only 45 employees in 1995 to one with nearly US$1b in turnover and 3,500 employees today. Paprec is now France’s leading independent recycler, processing 5 million tons of waste last year.
Pushing constantly at the limits of recycling, Jean-Luc’s philosophy is that today’s waste is tomorrow’s raw materials. After raising US$200m at the end of last year, Paprec is now poised to become one of Europe’s recycling leaders and play a major role in the future of sustainability.
Engineer Sven Bauer is the driving force behind BMZ, a specialist producer of rechargeable battery packs based in the southern German town of Karlstein. BMZ’s products are sold worldwide for use in cordless screwdrivers, electric bicycles, electric cars, garden tools, portable medical equipment, power drills and toys. In 2012, BMZ had turnover of US$166m, representing a substantial increase in revenues of nearly 60% compared with 2010. BMZ has production sites in Germany, Poland, China and the US and it employs over 1,200 people globally. A self-confessed battery enthusiast, Sven gives lectures on the subject of battery technologies at industry forums.
When Adi Godrej joined his family’s business in 1963, it had revenues of some US$20m. He has since built the Godrej Group into a US$4b organization with 28,000 employees in 60 countries. Now one of India’s most trusted and successful brands, it has interests in real estate, industrial engineering and appliances among others. Adi restructured and diversified the group to capitalize on the opportunities presented by the rapid growth of India’s consumer market. Adi has been recognized with two major awards and in 2012 he led a high-level committee on corporate governance, which was established by the Indian government.
From a single retail outlet in 1996, Budiarto Halim has driven PT Erajaya Swasembada Tbk. to become a mammoth in the mobile device business with 400 outlets and 93 distribution centers serving more than 20,000 third-party retailers.
Continuous and sustainable innovations such as the world’s first Android specialty store, direct distribution to third party retailers, and the acquisition of Apple premium chain store iBox have helped capture a third of the market share. The Company is a trusted distributor for the widest range of globally recognized brands.
With concern for the best quality resources, Budiarto created a training academy for his 4,600 employees. Budiarto is also involved in driving numerous social programs, such as education opportunities for the poor.
Dairymaster is serving the dairy farming industry with a technological revolution, re-imagining dairy farming, concentrating on how to reduce the work load, clean up the processes, learn from nature and translate that learning into technological innovations. Products include milking, feeding, manure handling, milk cooling and heat detection systems.
Now exporting 75% of its production around the world, Dairymaster’s customers range from small family farms to installations that can provide enough milk daily for half a million people. By designing products to make dairy farming more profitable, enjoyable and sustainable, Dr. Edmond Harty has used his mechanical engineering background to develop a family business into a world leader. Customers around the world say Dairymaster has revolutionized the way they farm.
In Mellanox Technologies, Eyal Walderman has combined technical achievement with a teamwork mindset to create a leading supplier of InfiniBand and Ethernet products and services.
Eyal has developed InfiniBand technology, a communications link system used in high performance computing and data centers to improve speed and efficiency, through a mindset that has brought together a diverse team – Israeli, Palestinian, American and Asian engineers work together under the Mellanox umbrella.
Headquartered in Santa Clara, California and Yokneam, Israel, Mellanox Technologies is a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ and TASE stock exchanges with annual revenues exceeding $500m and over 1,300 employees worldwide.
With a host of iconic car brands as clients, Alberto Bombassei has driven Brembo to become one of the leading suppliers of automotive brake products. Founded by Alberto Bombassei’s father more than 50 years ago, Brembo has grown from a small workshop into a €1.3b turnover business, attacking the North American, South American, Chinese and Indian markets as well as diversifying through the acquisition of new brands and products.
In 2002 Brembo announce its first application on Ferrari Enzo of the Carbon Ceramic brake discs and in 2009 signed a joint venture with Daimler Chrysler: they become one of the most important producers of Carbon Ceramic brake discs for the most famous car marques in the world. Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Audis, BMWs, Mercedes, Cadillacs, Corvettes, Porsches, Ducatis, Harley Davidsons, Aprilias, and Aston Martins all use Brembo’s brakes.
Since launching in 1981 as a single dental clinic, with three chairs and six staff, Dr. Hiroshi Matsumura’s Tokushinkai Group has grown to a US$120m business, operating in 10 countries through 65 dental clinics, technical centers and management departments, treating 840,000 patients a year.
In this time, Dr. Matsumura has confronted what he believes to be the outdated thinking of many in the dental profession, pursuing a mission to train dental staff to treat patients with humanity, dignity and care, while always remaining professional.
Despite growing to become one of Asia’s largest health services organizations, the group remains true to its roots as a social enterprise, offering help to victims of earthquakes.
Akram Khreis has built a business empire that provides infrastructure support to the food and beverage industry. His companies undertake a range of activities including the installation of bottle-filling lines at beverage plants, carbon dioxide production and the blowing of polyethylene terephthalate, a product used to make bottles. The group, which Akram founded in 2000 with a small investment of US$7,000, has a dominant market share in the Middle East and North Africa. Akram invests over US$2m annually in building the capacity of fresh graduates. He also serves on the board of Oasis 500, a Jordanian seed investment and development company that supports entrepreneurs.
Askar Baitassov has led the rapid expansion of AB Restaurants, a multi-brand restaurant chain offering international cuisine across Kazakhstan. Askar sees AB Restaurants’ greater mission as inspiring Kazakh citizens with the standards of modern developed society, through high-quality service, atmosphere and social initiatives focused on city life and image. Askar believes that his company’s 35 restaurants and 12 distinct brands contribute to building unique subcultures in the modern Kazakhstani cities. In the past three years, the company’s headcount has doubled to 1,000 employees, while revenue has multiplied by 2.5 times. The chain has expanded throughout the country and into neighboring Russia.
Since completing an audacious takeover of FILA Korea’s parent company, FILA Global, in 2007, Yoon Soo (Gene) Yoon has led the Italian sportswear brand to achieve revenues of US$1.87b by 2012. Sponsoring numerous teams and athletes in a variety of sports, FILA was the official partner of the Korean team at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Yoon demonstrated his M&A credentials again in 2011 through the acquisition of Acushnet Company, owner of leading golf ball brand Titleist, and Footjoy golf shoes. A year earlier, Yoon took FILA Korea public through an initial public offering on the Korean Stock Exchange.
QL Resources is among Southeast Asia’s largest egg producers and fish paste manufacturers and is building a presence in the sustainable palm oil and biomass energy sectors. In its 25-year history the company has delivered uninterrupted earnings growth with a CAGR of 25%. Dr Chia Song Kun, founder of QL, has achieved this by developing an integrated business model that adds value to primitive, coastal village economic activities – fishing, agriculture and livestock farming.
Dr Chia’s entrepreneurial spirit is encapsulated by his business philosophy of ‘value for all’, which in Chinese translates as ‘Quan Li’, and is the genesis of QL’s acronymous name. QL creates and shares value among its stakeholder community and by doing so ensures its long term sustainability.
Lorenzo Barrera Segovia was 27 when he founded a foreign exchange firm to serve companies in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey. Since 1986, that firm has evolved into Banco BASE, a commercial bank that offers a range of services including loans, hedging instruments and investment in money market funds. It is rated by two agencies and it has 12,700 customers within Mexico and overseas, of which 60% are SMEs. Banco BASE has been awarded a stream of accolades including recognition for setting a benchmark standard in preventing money laundering and being named one of the best companies to work for in Mexico. In 2009, British magazine World Finance also recognized it as the best forex trader in Mexico.
Paul Nijhof is the driving force behind RFS Holland Holding’s transformation from catalogue to online retailer and its continuing expansion. The parent company of wehkamp.nl, Lacent B.V., Create2Fit and Fonq.nl, RFS last year increased revenue by 12% to hit €550m ($700m), making it The Netherlands’ largest online retailer, employing 830 full-time staff.
Following a management buyout in 2008, RFS’s strategy has been to build on its leadership in online shopping through the organic growth of existing formats, acquisitions and strategic alliances with renowned retailers.
Paul has now begun targeting foreign markets and is experiencing major growth.
Craig Heatley, New Zealand’s most prominent serial entrepreneur, began his first venture at age 22- a mini golf site that grew into the NZ$600 million Rainbow Corporation, employing more than 7000 people when he sold it eight years later. He also established Sky TV, New Zealand’s eighth largest publicly listed company, now employing more than 1000 people with a market capitalisation of NZ$2 billion. Craig is currently launching a New York-based global sports and entertainment business, 818 Sports and Entertainment LLC. A third of his time is now dedicated to philanthropy and not-for-profits including, The First Tee, a project aimed at teaching life skills to children.
Aliko Dangote’s business career took off in 1977 when he used a loan from his uncle to start trading in cement. Before long, he was also trading in sugar and flour and, by the early 2000s, he was producing both of these commodities as well as cement. Now his company, Dangote Group, owns sugar refineries, flour mills and salt processing facilities. It is also Africa’s largest producer of cement.
Aliko is ranked the richest man in Africa by Forbes magazine with an estimated fortune of US$16.1b. A renowned philanthropist, he donated US$26m to victims of flooding in Nigeria in 2012.
K.A.Rasmussen is one of the world’s largest suppliers of precious metals to industry and the jewelry crafts business. It has manufacturing facilities in Norway and Sweden as well as operations in six other countries. Since joining the management team in 2007, Harald has played a major role in driving the group’s impressive growth. By 2011, revenues had more than quadrupled from NOK 500m to NOK 2.3b and operating profits were NOK 75.2m, up 55% on the prior year. K.A.Rasmussen supports environmental protection through its corporate social responsibility program and Harald is an adviser to the United Nations’ panel on climate change.
Jim Ayala is a social entrepreneur on a mission: to boost his country by providing remote villages across the Philippines with solar-powered products and services that enable them to climb out of poverty. By giving Filipinos a means to achieve their God-given potential, Jim feels he is making an important contribution to his country’s efforts to catch up with its more prosperous Asian neighbors.
Prior to becoming a social entrepreneur, Jim worked for international strategy firm McKinsey & Company, where he was head of the Asian energy practice.
Ewald Raben opened a branch of his Netherlands-based family company in Poland in 1991 with just 12 employees. Today the Polish branch is the headquarters of a multinational logistics operator, with 4,500 employees in Poland alone and 8,000 working across 10 countries in Europe. Raben Group’s revenue has grown from €5m in 1991 to nearly €1b in 2012. He might be Raben Group’s CEO but Ewald has also driven trucks and packed pallets and he knows the logistics business inside out. Ewald has launched a number of initiatives promoting road safety, the importance of logistics and offering advice on living a healthy lifestyle.
At just 33 years of age, Andrey Romanenko is already one of Russia’s most successful entrepreneurs. His company, QIWI Group has an integrated proprietary network that enables payment services across physical, online and mobile channels, which allows consumers to pay easily and securely for goods and services around the world. Its revenues exceed US$290m and it collaborates with multinational brands such as Apple, Skype and Visa.
Andrey is also an avid supporter of technology start-ups and since 2011 he has invested in two venture funds. In 2010, he took first place in Finance magazine’s ranking of the most successful men in Russia under the age of 33.
Darko Budeč is an electrical engineer with a love of interior design. In 1992 he combined his passions by setting up a company that produces lighting fixtures and delivers lighting solutions. Buck, the company that he founded, creates innovative and energy-efficient lighting for a vast range of environments, including public buildings, churches, offices, schools and shops. Buck’s primary markets are the Scandinavian countries, Italy and Russia but its products are sold in 25 countries.
Darko likes to nurture internal talent, preferring to “keep it all in the family” from recruitment until retirement and Buck’s organizational structure resembles a roundtable, rather than a pyramid.
Real estate tycoon John Lim has climbed rapidly to the top of the Singaporean business world after setting up ARA Asset Management in 2002. A pioneer in establishing real estate investment trusts (REITs) in Singapore and Hong Kong, ARA has nearly US$18b in assets under management today. It employs more than 1,000 staff in 12 cities and has recorded year-on-year revenue growth since it was listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange in 2007. It also appeared on Forbes magazine’s “Asia’s 200 Best Under A Billion” list in 2010 and 2011. In 2008, John set up the charitable Lim Hoon Foundation to support needy students.
In 1995, former math teacher Vladimír Levársky founded lighting company OMS with six staff members and start-up capital of just €17,000 (equivalent). Today, OMS is one of the world’s leading names in lighting, distributing its goods to 122 countries around the globe. It manufactures interior and exterior light fittings that are suitable for banks, hotels, hospitals, offices and sports stadiums. OMS employs more than 1,050 people, has annual revenues of approximately €73m and boasts 92,600 m2 in production facilities. Around 98% of the company’s products are exported. Vladimír owns the football team FK Senica, which plays in the top division of the Slovak Republic’s league.
When Sipho Nkosi founded coal mining company Eyesizwe Holdings and Coal in 1999, he was determined to become a role model both for his own son and others. He also dreamed of creating a mineral extraction giant based in South Africa that would help the African continent to earn the respect of the world. Eyesizwe grew rapidly under Sipho’s leadership and by 2005 it was producing 20 million tons of coal annually. In 2006, Eyesizwe merged into coal and mineral group Exxaro and a year later Sipho became Exxaro’s CEO. Now Exxaro has a turnover of US$1.4b and it employs more than 7,500 people.
Maria del Mar Raventós is a great granddaughter of José Raventós Fatjó, the man who uncorked the first bottle of sparkling wine in Spain in 1872. She is also President of Codorníu, which is the world's largest producer of bottle-fermented sparkling wine known as cava. Since taking charge, Mar has presided over a period of expansion and internationalization. The company now has 10 wineries located in the best wine regions in Spain as well as in California and Argentina. It has also bought distributors in the US and the UK. Mar is the mother of six children, juggling professional responsibilities with family life.
Kopparbergs Bryggeri was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy when Peter Bronsman bought it in 1994. He transformed it into Sweden’s largest brewing company and revitalized the world’s fruit cider market. Today nearly 290 employees work for the company, which exports its cider and lagers to more than 30 countries and boasts turnover of almost SEK 2b. Peter masterminded this growth by developing a sweeter cider and a wide range of flavors. Kopparberg Cider is the world’s bestselling pear cider and the brewer is the third largest producer of cider in the UK. Peter is chairman of Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC, a top women’s soccer club.
Dr. Riccardo Braglia is CEO of Helsinn, a family-owned chemical and pharmaceutical company based in Lugano. The group manufactures and markets medicines for use in oncology and gastroenterology. It employs approximately 500 employees and sells its products through distributors in 90 countries. Over the past five years, it has enjoyed a compound annual growth rate of around 6% and it invests some 20% of its turnover in research and development. Under Dr. Braglia’s leadership, Helsinn has adopted a unique business model based on the in- and out-licensing of pharmaceuticals. Dr. Braglia is a board member for Swiss basketball club the Lugano Tigers.
Chinese pottery with a 21st century twist is the dazzling output of Franz Chen’s Taiwan-based ceramics company. Franz is credited with reviving interest in ancient porcelain art through the vases, jugs and figurines in the Franz Collection, all of which embrace oriental tradition and Western styling in their design. Franz founded the Franz Collection in 2001 and its products are now distributed across 6,000 points of sale in 56 countries. Between 2009 and 2011, the company achieved healthy growth rates of between 16.55% and 18.07%. Last year, Forbes magazine recognized Franz as one of the “25 Influential Chinese in Global Fashion”.
Dr. Şükrü Bozluolçay is the founder of Bozlu Holding, a group of 18 companies that mainly specialize in medical services such as laboratory analysis, medical electronics, nuclear medicine and radiotherapy. The group also has its own oncology clinics. Through the services it offers, Bozlu is helping to establish Turkey as a destination for medical tourism. Bozlu’s financial performance has been impressive, particularly over the past three years, and its revenues have doubled from US$60m in 2010 to around US$120m today. Companies within the Bozlu group work with the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) to improve treatment for cancer patients.
Emmanuel Katongole is the founder of Kampala-based Quality Chemical Industries Limited (QCIL). QCIL is the only pharmaceutical company in sub-Saharan Africa that manufactures triple-combination antiretroviral (ARV) drugs for reducing the virulence of the HIV infection, the virus that causes AIDS. The company produces some six million tablets daily and over the past five years, it has helped to increase the number of AIDS patients receiving treatment from 140,000 to around 500,000. QCIL also supplies drugs for the treatment of Uganda’s other killer illness – malaria. Emmanuel is the founder of a Ugandan food and beverage producer and the director of a technology company.
A barn in the English countryside isn’t where you would expect the first daily default credit swap (CDS) pricing service to be born. But that’s where Canadian Lance Uggla founded Markit in 2003 after he recognized that credit markets needed reliable independent valuation data on CDSs, then a new and fast-growing financial product. Markit has since grown into an information and services giant, which is valued at around US$5b and has more than 2,800 employees and offices in more than 22 offices worldwide. It has a shared ownership structure, which has resulted in employees as a group being the largest holder of equity in the company.
When it comes to making yogurt, Turkish-born entrepreneur Hamdi Ulukaya has the magic touch. Chobani Greek Yogurt, which he created in 2007, is already the best-selling brand of yogurt in the US. The story began when he bought an abandoned yogurt factory in 2005 and hired five employees. It took a year and a half to develop the product, but today Chobani’s annual sales are approaching US$1b, it has a workforce of nearly 2,000 people and sells its products in Australia, Canada and the UK, as well as in the US. Chobani donates 10% of its profits to its charitable foundation, Shepherd’s Gift.
Orlando Dovat founded the first private free-trade zone in Uruguay in 1990. Zonamerica is located close to the capital city of Montevideo and today the business park hosts more than 300 companies, which employ some 8,500 people. Its annual revenues are in the region of US$45m and the organizations based in the park generate approximately 2% of Uruguay’s GDP. Zonamerica supports eight business sectors including: audiovisual technology; biotechnology; call centers; consulting; financial services; logistics, shared services and software development.