Elmira Bayrasli's worldview was turned upside down when a woman in Bosnia told her, “thanks for the help. But we need work and jobs, not foreign aid.” That prompted Bayrasli to embark on a worldwide quest to find how talented people have overcome insurmountable obstacles to build high-growth businesses that are driving wealth and building communities, regions and countries. Through seven remarkable stories, Elmira Bayrasli shows why the next Steve Jobs and the next Apple, Google or Facebook is as likely to come from Nigeria, Pakistan or Mexico as Silicon Valley.
She discovers that what distinguishes techies in Silicon Valley from women selling bamboo stools in Bangladesh isn't their sophistication but simply the conditions that are necessary to sustain and scale business ideas. In the absence of these obstacles, global entrepreneurship can flourish.
Bayrasli paints compelling stories of extraordinary entrepreneurs creatively battling corruption, lack of infrastructure, capital shortages and underdeveloped supplier and customer networks. She offers solutions that can be utilized by entrepreneurs everywhere, and shows why micro-finance, social entrepreneurship, and foreign aid are not enough. Most importantly, she shows how the key to building successful entrepreneurial ecosystems is to provide the framework that enables start-ups to scale.
In this absorbing debut, Bayrasli cofounder of Foreign Policy Interrupted, which aims to amplify the voices of women working in foreign policy profiles seven entrepreneurs from seven different countries who are breaking down barriers and overcoming obstacles. She identifies seven recurring obstacles to innovation in the developing world: scarce skilled labor and management, underdeveloped infrastructure, absent rule of law, a resistant status quo, monopolies, corruption, and lack of collaborative space. A full chapter is dedicated to each challenge and to how a specific entrepreneur is meeting it. To that end, Bayrasli introduces B lent Celebi, CEO of AirTies, who launched a tech start-up in Turkey but struggles to find the talent necessary to grow his company; Tayo Oviosu, founder of the digital payment company Paga Tech in Lagos, Nigeria, who battles his country's inadequate infrastructure; Shaffi Mather, founder of Dial 1298, an ambulance service in India, who must overcome corrupt bureaucracy; and Russia's Yana Yakovleva, founder of a successful chemical company who is unjustly jailed and must fight against her country's endemic corruption. Bayrasli does an admirable job of showcasing these pioneers and arguing that, despite their challenges, the next big breakthrough will come from them or someone like them, not from Silicon Valley.