CNBC has a lengthy article about Asians shunning the “American dream” to return home. The article began by profiling Thomas Woo who returned home after studying in the USA to become a co-founder and president of City Super – a Hong Kong lifestyle store which caters to Asia’s growing appetite for high-end lifestyle products. Woo is not alone because the latest Forbes list of successful entrepreneurs in China under the age of 30 includes a number of those who were educated overseas and returned home to set up their entrepreneurial ventures.
Why are entrepreneurs or would-be entrepreneurs returning home to Asia? According to Mykolas Rambus, the CEO of Wealth-X, a research firm that tracks the ultra-wealthy, Asia is about 15 years into a 150-year wealth creation cycle:
“We’re about 15 years into the process of wealth creation across Asia, so we’ve got a long way to go, which is a good thing for entrepreneurs in Asia. Growth will come from new places; we will think mostly there will be consumer driven opportunities and businesses that cater to the middle classes in China, India, and Indonesia.”
In other words, anywhere in Asia can be the ideal place to be if you have a great entrepreneurial idea.
Moreover and according to Ringo Choi, the strategic growth markets APAC leader at Ernst & Young, Asian entrepreneurs educated or trained in the West have a distinct advantage over peers who are not:
“To start up a new business you need finances. For those people who have worked on Wall Street or in Silicon Valley, it helps them create a business model that might appeal to Western investors.”
Finally, Steven Pan, the chairman of Regent Hotel who returned home to Taiwan in the 1990s after starting his career as a banker on Wall Street, added:
“If you stay in the U.S. there are a lot of opportunities in the financial industry alone, but in Asia there is a broad range of industries you can go into. I didn’t even know about the hotel industry until I came home.”
Pan returned to work for a hotel and went on to buy out his boss, but turning his back on the “American Dream” was not so easy because he took a 50% pay cut after he quit his Wall Street job to work in Asia. However, returning to work in Asia has certainly paid off for Pan because he was also the winner of the 2012 Ernst & Young entrepreneur of the year award in Taiwan.