China tops can-do list

Updated: 2014-11-19 12:34

By Zhang Yuwei in New York(China Daily USA)

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As the number of Chinese entrepreneurs rises, a new survey finds that the Chinese - more than anyone else in the world - believe you don't necessarily have to go to MIT to create a successful business.

Among 43,902 people aged 14 to 99 in 38 countries surveyed for the new annual Amway Global Entrepreneurship report, 83 percent of respondents in China (compared with the overall average of 63 percent) believe that self-employment is possible through practical experience rather than formal education.

Steve Van Andel, chairman of Amway, the world's No1 direct selling company, said one of the reasons may be that the business environment in China offers options for aspiring entrepreneurs.

"China is beginning to get a much larger and larger amount of opportunity for people who want to start their own businesses," Van Andel told China Daily in New York after the launch of the report.

"If you look at some developing markets, some of them really don't have that many alternatives to going out and getting a job, and they don't have the alternative of actually starting their businesses on their own," Van Andel added.

The growing entrepreneurship phenomenon in China has seen a number of success stories, which Van Andel says is helpful for Amway's business to grow.

China tops can-do list

"That's what drives us - people being entrepreneurs and starting their own thing and that's what we all are about," he said, referring to the Chinese market, which is currently No1 for Amway.

Launched in China in 1995, the company now employs some 9,000 workers and has a sales force of 300,000 in 280 cities across China, extending beyond first- and second-tier cities. The company earned about 40 percent of its revenue in China last year.

Elmira Bayrasli, a New York-based author and founder of World Policy Institute's Global Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Project, said the findings about China also show that the government has been encouraging individuals to set up their own businesses.

"In terms of different elements that require a place to be entrepreneurial, China has it," said Bayrasli.

"China is focused on entrepreneurship at all levels," he said. "It's not just in the universities and private sector, it's also the government and non-profit sector as well. There is a great encouragement and push where people are being encouraged to experiment with their ideas and go out there and build businesses."

Bayrasli said that Chinese entrepreneurs - such as Jack Ma, founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, and Lei Jun, founder of Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi - have set the tone for more Chinese to follow their dreams of being their own bosses.

"A lot of that does come from the top," he said. "What you are seeing right now and the reason that there is a lot of excitement from China is because the government is encouraging people to experiment."

Despite the positive attitude among most Chinese respondents, one challenge facing existing and upcoming Chinese entrepreneurs is forming the mindset to go global, according to Bayrasli.

Ari Gingsberg, a professor of entrepreneurship and management at New York University, agrees and says the government plays an important role.

"The government has to encourage policies that will create business opportunities abroad for the Chinese," said Gingsberg.

The survey, conducted in partnership with the School of Management in Germany, also found that China is the only country where more women than men can imagine starting their own business. In Belgium, Canada, Greece and Mexico less than 5 percent more men than women can imagine starting a business.

(China Daily USA 11/19/2014 page1)