By Mouayed Makhlouf , International Finance Corporation

For years, the Middle East and North Africa has been grappling with conflict, widespread unemployment, and civil unrest. Today, governments across the region face the additional challenges of an unprecedented refugee influx, inadequate infrastructure after years of neglect, and lukewarm investor sentiment. With all of this, should closing gender gaps be a priority in the region?

A growing body of evidence makes a strong business case for saying “yes” and ensuring that women are fully integrated into the economy. A report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) found that if Egypt leveled the economic playing field, for example, it could boost its GDP by 34 per cent. Read more

Emerging market investors have little to cheer about these days. EM currencies are falling, corporate debt is rising, and economic growth, to say it with Christine Lagarde’s words, is “cause for concern”.

But that shouldn’t stop venture capitalists and private equity investors from making a bullish bet on EM entrepreneurs. Why? Because, Turkish-American author Elmira Bayrasli writes in her book From The Other Side of The World, “the next great innovator – the next Steve Jobs – won’t be from Silicon Valley, but from Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan or Turkey”. What makes her so sure of that? Read more

Youth unemployment across the G20 is stuck at 16 per cent. Globally, some 358m young people are not in education, employment or training – more than the population of the US and Canada combined. The scale of the problem is such that the major economies of the world are at serious risk of another financial crisis if nothing is done. How do we ensure a bright future for our youth that not only contributes to their livelihood, but builds upon and strengthens our economic foundations?

The answer of course is obvious – produce more jobs and provide skills and confidence to young people. But how we get there is a better question to ask. Read more

If you think launching a start up in Silicon Valley is hard, try it in Sierra Leone, Surinam or Senegal. Emerging market entrepreneurs face extraordinary challenges to growth, including access to finance, access to markets and access to talent. Of these, talent is the most critical. Over the past few years, I have become increasingly convinced that the lack of quality managers in emerging markets is the lynchpin to unlocking the prosperity-creating potential of small and growing businesses. Yet we have seen little movement on the talent issue. And the time has come to change that.

Having qualified management teams is fundamental to receiving growth capital. Successful private equity investors look first at the team – and then consider the business plan and implementation strategy. Banks may look at financial statements first, but even a solid balance sheet is not enough if lenders are not comfortable with the management team. Read more

By Tony Elumelu of Heirs Holdings

This week, world leaders from the public and private sectors, civil society and academia are gathered at Davos to discuss a “new global context” – the theme of the World Economic Forum’s 2015 annual meeting. In this new context, the WEF fears that profound transformations – social, economic, political and technological – are hastening the end of “economic integration and international partnership”. Read more

By Michael Drexler and José Ernesto Amorós Espinosa

Fernando Fischmann once had a dream of building a holiday resort around an artificial lagoon that many international experts considered “practically impossible”. Today, 15 years later, Fischmann holds the Guinness World Record for the largest swimming pool in the world (see photo below). His dream is a global business based on patented technology that has developed over 300 projects in 60 countries. Where is this lagoon? Dubai? Las Vegas? Shanghai? No – it is in a small coastal town near Santiago in Chile. Read more

By Pablo Sanguinetti of CAF and UTDT

A long time ago, a reporter is said to have asked the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, “Who is Borges?” To which the characteristically subtle answer was: “A forgotten man, from a forgotten time, from a forgotten continent”. With economic growth in Latin America having decelerated to 4.6 per cent in 2011, to 2.9 per cent in 2012, to 2.7 per cent in 2013 and with commentators dismissing the growth momentum of the preceding decade as a commodity-driven fluke, the region seems indeed to be on a path to oblivion. Read more

By Shaomin Li and Seung Ho Park

China has produced a class of successful entrepreneurs whose wealth rivals the “old money” of the west. Their success has created a novel phenomenon in China: “fu-er-dai” or “2Rich,” – the second generation of the rich. While their parents earned their money through their own hard work and thus respect in society, the 2Rich have a reputation of spending lavishly and driving expensive sports cars.

While mature economies go through slow wealth transfer over multiple generations, wealthy first-generation entrepreneurs and their descendants are entirely new in fast-growing emerging economies like China. These entrepreneurs are now in their 50s and 60s and beginning to look at retirement and the question of leadership succession in their family-run businesses. Will they hand the reign over to non-family professional managers or their children? Would the 2Rich be willing and ready to continue the family tradition? Read more

By Alan Clark of SABMiller

Whether you are in Bogota, Brazzaville or Boston, micro and small businesses are vital to prosperity, economic growth and employment. Global Entrepreneurship Week is an opportunity to recognise these motors of job creation – never more important as economies around the world continue to struggle with the legacy of the global financial crisis. And because they are found in every community, rural and urban, they play a key role in driving social progress.This is why supporting micro and small businesses – and the entrepreneurial spirit that drives them – has to be at the top of the policy agenda not just for governments but for the private sector as well. Read more

It’s one of the anomalies in global statistics: South America is home to the world’s highest proportion of entrepreneurs, yet their presence doesn’t often translate into global innovation or broad-based wealth creation.

Chile has been eager to change that reality. And, it seems, its efforts are starting to bear fruit. Several Chilean-bred tech companies have recently been acquired by venture capital funds, and three Chilean-focused VCs vowed to invest some $67m in Chilean companies this year. Is Chile really becoming “Chilecon Valley”? Read more

A quarter of the world’s 161m blind and severely visually impaired people live in India, according to Sightsavers, the international charity.

Combine that with the fact that India is buzzing with technology and entrepreneurship, and it makes sense that the world’s first Braille smartphone is being developed in the country. Read more

By Justin Vela

With 4 per cent growth likely in 2013 and a young, educated population powering the economy forward, Turkey makes an attractive prospect for those seeking new horizons.

But entrepreneurs coming from abroad who don’t know how to navigate the market are likely to be frustrated. Two such arrivals tell beyondbrics their stories. Read more

President Raúl Castro wants the recent liberalisation of small businesses to bolster Cuba’s sagging economy and absorb the 1m state workers he says will eventually be laid off.

But Cuba’s budding micro-entrepreneurs – over 350,000 had registered as of November 2011 – lack almost everything that start-ups need, from premises and relevant skills to capital. Will they ever really get off the ground?

A bustling restaurant in Havana’s colonial centre – which opened in January 2011, is appropriately called “La Moneda Cubana”, the Cuban coin, and is run by Miguel Ángel, a 37-year old entrepreneur - suggests some answers. Read more

The Chinese wealthy are facing a problem that the rest of the world would love to have: they do not know what to do with their self-made riches.

China’s first generation entrepreneurs are worried that their children will ruin the family business that they gave their lives to build – and the kids are none too keen to run it anyway. Read more

Márton Szõke , a Hungarian entrepreneur and angel investor, learned his trade the hard way. “When I started my first business, I was a fool. In hindsight, I probably wouldn’t have started it.” Nevertheless, he made enough money “to burn most of it in my second venture, which failed.”

But next time round, Szõke got it right and a few years later he sold Indextools, his analytics software company, to Yahoo! and made his first bundle. Read more

China corruptionWant to get rich quick in China? In Beijing’s anti-corruption drive, some entrepreneurs have seen unusual business opportunities. Take the story of four young men from Hunan, who hatched an unusual plan, recently recounted by state-run newspaper People’s DailyRead more

Taj Hotel, Mumbai, a hub for India's richIndia’s economic boom has given life to a new “caste” of uber-rich risk-takers that are set to become even wealthier over the next decade.

A report called “Top of the Pyramid” by Kotak Mahindra Bank, a Mumbai financial group, and Crisil, the Indian ratings agency, said households with a net worth of Rs250m ($5.6m) would triple within five years to 219,000 on the back of economic growth. What’s most interesting is that many of these families will be headed by risk-on entrepreneurs,  not the safety-first conservatives that have long dominated India’s rich lists. Read more

Olivia LumEntrepreneurs often grab the popular imagination through the sheer scale of their achievements. Think Steve Jobs, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim or Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska. But the millionaires can be as interesting as the billionaires, especially in key sectors in emerging markets.

Meet Olivia Lum, Ernst&Young World Entrepreneur of the Year 2011, founder of one of the world’s largest water treatment companies, as the FT reported on Tuesday in its special report, Understanding Entrepreneurs. Read more

Chief executive of SeppanRatan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group and doyen of Indian business, is 73.

But a younger breed of entrepreneur is beginning to break the mould that you have to be old to get to the top in India. Sindhuja Rajamaran, is celebrated in her home country as one of the world’s youngest chief executives. She is 14 years old. Read more

Roman Abramovich's yacht June 2010The annual of Russian Forbes rich list reads like a who’s who of Rublyovskoye shosse, Moscow’s wealthiest drag, and London’s Belgravia. At the very top of the list are old favourites: Mikhail Prokhorov, Oleg Deripaska, Alisher Usmanov, Roman Abramovich.

But look a little further down and you’ll see the name of Deni Bazhaev, Russia’s youngest multimillionare on the list at the tender age of, gulp, 15. Read more