The next great frontier

moderated by John Byrne, Editor-in-Chief, C-Change Media

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Session recap

Taking the next step: time to look beyond the BRICs

The BRIC countries once got all the attention, but smaller economies are gaining ground. Entrepreneurs from Colombia, Kenya, Vietnam, Turkey and Mexico say their homelands are ripe for investment, and they encouraged attendees at the Forum to take notice.

During a discussion moderated by John A. Byrne, Editor-in-Chief, C-Change Media, panelists detailed the opportunities and engaged in candid conversation about the obstacles that persist.

The countries are unique, but the keys to success are similar: patience, a savvy local partner, and the ability to navigate through the bureaucracy and local legislation.

“When you get into these kinds of countries, you have to know and understand that politically there are changes all the time,” said Yonatan Bursztyn, CEO, Nalsani SA/TOTTO and totto tu (Colombia). His company has 474 stores in 22 countries. “Be humble; understand that every country does things in their own way,” he said.

Bülent Çelebi, Chairman and co-Founder, AirTies Wireless Networks, chose to start the company in his native Turkey. Now, the business is a leading manufacturer of wireless home media networking products that integrate free, purchased and personal content. The Turkish economy has been growing at 7% to 8% annually, he said.

The Eurozone crisis has put a dent in that number, but he expects new government policies to help maintain a high growth rate.

Vietnam has a great demographic, said Le Thi Thu Thuy, Vice Chairperson and CEO of Vingroup Joint Stock Company, the country’s largest real estate company. There are 90 million people in Vietnam, and 65% are younger than 35. “There’s a hidden demand in Vietnam,” she said, describing it as the land of underserved markets. “People don’t know what they want yet.”

Africa is going through a massive transformation as it uses the resources boom to transform its economies, said Dr. James Mwangi, Group Managing Director & CEO, Equity Bank Limited in Kenya, and the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012®. He transformed the once-failing financial institution into the largest bank by customer base in East and Central Africa.

There is a misperception about Africa, according to Mwangi. “One aspect that is always mistaken is that it’s a single market. Africa is 54 different countries,” he said.

Mexico is a great market, said Xavier Lopez Ancona, President, KidZania de Mexico S.A. de C.V., a company that designs and operates entertainment centers where children can role-play. Mexico is a young country — 26 is the average age. “And every day they have more purchasing power,” he said.


Yonatan Bursztyn photo

Yonatan Bursztyn 
Nalsani SA/TOTTO and totto tu (Colombia)

Le Thi Thu Thuy photo

Le Thi Thu Thuy
Vice Chairperson and CEO
Vingroup Joint Stock Company (Vietnam)

Xavier Lopez Ancona photo

Xavier Lopez Ancona
KidZania de Mexico S.A. de C.V. (Mexico)

Bülent Çelebi photo

Bülent Çelebi
Chairman & co-Founder
AirTies Wireless Networks (Turkey)

Dr. James Mwangi photo

Dr. James Mwangi
Group Managing Director & CEO
Equity Bank Limited (Kenya)


John A. Byrne photo

John A. Byrne
C-Change Media