Monday, November 7, 2011

Money Matters: Understanding visibility economics

Money Matters

Understanding visibility economics

Monday, November 07, 2011, Zil Hajj 10, 1432 A.H

By Irfan Aamir

When the Harvard University Professor Michael Porter stands up to speak, those fortunate to be around him have no choice but to listen and listen to him very carefully. Professor Porter after all is one of the very few distinguished academics -- in the history of the prestigious institution -- who has been bestowed the title of Harvard University Professor. The professorship recognises “individuals of distinction, working on the frontiers of knowledge and in such a way as to cross the conventional boundaries of the specialties”. Professor Michael Porter, author of 18 books and award winning articles for publications like Harvard Business Review, is the most cited author in business and economics and his work has re-defined the thinking about strategy, competitiveness and economic development. 

Perhaps rightfully, he is called the father of the modern strategy field with his ideas being taught in virtually every business school in the world.

Together with his two very able co-founders, Professor Michael Porter founded and also chairs the AllWorld Network (AWN) based out of Boston, USA. The AWN was established in 2007 by Deirdre CoyleAnne Habiby and Michael Porter at Harvard Business School after many years of promoting entrepreneurship in the developed and developing worlds.

The network has a mission to find and scale all the growth entrepreneurs of the emerging world, creating the largest information system and network of growth entrepreneurs. The AWN ranks fast growing private companies and puts them on the world map, drawing the market to them in new capital and opportunities, what the network calls Visibility Economics TM. The founders believe that the emerging world does not suffer from a capability deficit; it suffers from a visibility deficit. Without visibility, companies can’t get to the scale or prosper, believe advocate Professor Porter and the co-founders of the AWN.

The widespread economic vulnerabilities in the North and South and the ever increasing gap between the unemployed and employed continue to mount societal challenges, especially for struggling economies, making them even more vulnerable to internal and external threats. 

Founders of the network believe that governments are constrained by budget deficits and the corporate sector is contracting due to recession.

Therefore, they will not be able to create additional jobs for an increasing population in developing countries. Economic growth and employment will be driven by private small and medium enterprises.

AWN has the vision of scaling these enterprises by creating a network from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, Turkey, South Africa and other countries to interact and exchange business opportunities that enable them to grow. One way this is achieved is through a prestigious Entrepreneurship Summit at Harvard University, which is attended by the top entrepreneurs of privately-held, progressively growing companies from different countries and regions.

AWN’s concept of Visibility Economics TM is rooted in a collective belief that there is plenty of entrepreneurship excellence in developing countries. The challenge, Professor Porter’s team believes is that the world is not aware of its existence. By putting these high-performing growth enterprises on the global radar screen, the network believes it can help them attract capital, talent and customers. The fact that the criteria of AWN Pakistan Fast Growth 25 companies is the same as INC.500 -- the most prestigious ranking of private companies in the world -- gives confidence that Pakistan 25 is a world standard growth enterprise.

AllWorld Pakistan 25 Winners and Partners
with Pakistan Minister for Finance and
 U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter

Pakistan is not known for entrepreneurship due to the constant media coverage of the many security challenges that the country faces. Pakistan 25 broke the AWN record in October 2010, with the largest number of applications in the shortest period of time, highest average revenue per company and growth rate of winning companies at an impressive 81 percent compared to the network’s other countries’ average of 41 percent. This is a clear signal that despite all odds, entrepreneurship and innovation is thriving in Pakistan. The 25 represented only a segment of a large body of entrepreneurs rearing to go and make inroads into the regional and international business space.

AWN has expanded Pakistan 25 to Pakistan Fast Growth 100 which they believe will be a true representation of the diverse economic landscape and its members, the future business ambassadors of Pakistan. The Pakistan 100 applicants will also have the opportunity to compete for Arabia 500, the premier pan-regional ranking of the fast growing private companies. Pakistan Fast Growth 100 entrepreneurs, according to the network, have been invited by the Turkish Prime Minister to Istanbul to participate in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit-- just the kind of visibility that was needed for Pakistan’s private enterprises, believe analysts.

Such is the frequency of not so positive news around uncertain and at times chaotic state of internal affairs of Pakistan that a distant view of the situation evokes nothing but disapproving perceptions. The higher growth rate of Pakistan 25 compared to those in Middle East, Asia and South Africa shows that Pakistan, despite the mounting challenges is still open for business and offers immense investment opportunities to those who are willing to take the long-term view.

The writer is a Karachi-based
communication consultant.

Irfan Aamir can be reached at:

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