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For China at some point in the not- too-distant future—just as for the Soviet Union in the s—the time will come when old-fashioned capital accumulation is no longer an adequate strategy to sustain rapid growth. More later in the book on the reasons for the Soviet collapse. Will its growth come to a crashing halt as it runs out of labor capacity to match its ever-increasing capital base?
Recurrent labor unrest may suggest that some sort of turning point has already been reached. However, it is also hampered by a political system that continues to award positions of aca- demic and industrial leadership on the basis of party loyalty rather than analytic acumen or business skill.
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Time will tell. Addressing the adverse consequences of growth is another dimension that will challenge China in the next quarter century. In some domains, progress has been evident and rapid. To be sure, this trend is just getting started; it has a way to go even in the United States and Western Europe. And the rest of the world is following suit.
When then there is a stronger incentive to take than to make—more gain from predation than from productive and mutually advantageous activities—societies fall to the bottom. Afghanistan, land of opportunity. But look out at the world from the eyes of Karim Khoja for a few minutes, and your perspective might change. I met Khoja in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in October So, in this instance, picture a Liverpool rugby coach with a full head of jet- black hair that encroaches slightly on a menacing pair of eye- brows. Have we gone gray? You had to bribe their salespeople even to see you.
The electricity and other power infrastructure are minimal, so we have had to install generators at each of our sites. It is those sixteen engineers we chose—the ones who could speak English and start up a PC—that today run a quarter-of-a-billion- dollar network nationwide. Roshan connects more than 3. However, it is precisely the failure of government to provide basic services, combined with a lack of formal regulatory constraints, that can create tremendous opportunities for entrepreneurs.
To claim, as many in development circles do, that an honest, stable government is a prerequisite for economic vitality is akin to claiming that a healthy, bountiful garden is a prerequisite for rainfall. Previous chapters have addressed threats to the coming prosperity by large-scale unemployment, resource scarcity, and climate change. But what of global terrorism? As it turns out, neither. What does work? It is not about building power plants—although infra- structure services are essential.
Once that happens, true development can start.
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In the Shomali Plains, about thirty miles north of Kabul, the issue is literally that grapes are rotting on the vine. There, losses in agricultural know-how are among the casualties of three decades of war; a seven-thousand-year history of growing grapes that was abruptly truncated by the Soviet invasion in In , the National Guard approached microirrigation pioneer Paul Polak for advice. Polak is a world-class entrepreneur who looks and sounds like your grandfather and possesses the rebellious spirit of your teenage daughter, the trustworthy smarts of a master mechanic, and the analytic acuity of your favorite college professor.
Back in , when most people of my generation were either listening to Bon Jovi or slam dancing, Paul Polak had already worked his way through one career as a psychiatrist and another running a venture in real estate and oil and gas. The microirrigation technologies developed and sold by IDE provide a mechanism for increasing labor productivity, expanding planting options, extending the growing season, and obtaining higher prices in the market.
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The result is increased income and improved well-being. I asked, are there fence post materials available? Is there wire available?
But these are farm boys from Missouri, so they get it right away. With assistance from the National Guard, new microenter- prises developed and yields went up sharply. Bringing back the grapes also helped keep out the production of poppies used in the production of narcotics and marijuana. As I will discuss in detail in chapter 8, a better question is this: On what else can the development of a nation possibly be based? The reality that entrepreneurs—whether founders of mobile phone companies or farmers—can thrive in environments rife with violence and corruption should come as no surprise.
Ample evidence exists of entrepreneurial initiatives thriving in failed states or regions beset by anarchy. The com- pany has not only survived but thrived ever since, even in the absence of a stable, formal government.
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How can we counter a destructive insurgency? With positive insur- gencies led by entrepreneurs. It is against this backdrop that I was surprised to receive a message in July from Nadeem Ul Haque. I had come to know Ul Haque over the previous year via exchanges on Twitter. He and I shared an interest in the role of entrepreneurship in development—and a corresponding frustra- tion with the lack of attention paid to this topic by the global amalgam of development experts.
In May I heard from Ul Haque. He had decided to return to Pakistan to see what he could do more directly to help advance the development of his native land. Soon after, his Twitter feed went cold. Then, at about p. A few minutes later I reached him in Islamabad, where it was a.
I could use your help. Over the coming weeks I was able to put the entire picture together. It turned out that Ul Haque had been appointed deputy chairman of the Plan- ning Commission in Pakistan, a position functionally similar to the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in the White House. So that was the reason for the call. Now, at that time, I admit I was a bit apprehensive.
But even more to the point, I wondered, as the father of three children, if I might not be taking an unnecessary risk in traveling to Pakistan. My eighty-three-year-old mother certainly thought so. I told her that the travel advisory the State Department had just issued was actually for Europe, not Pakistan. As I persuaded my mother, I persuaded myself. Images issuing from the cable channels notwithstanding, there would be little danger to me in taking this trip. In any event it quickly became apparent to me that I would be not be saying no to Nadeem Ul Haque.
A solidly built, almost burly man with a square jaw and heavy eyebrows set below a barely restrained white mane, Ul Haque can be as charming as a diplomat or as direct as a sledge- hammer.
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Honored Donors. On one hand, the twin cultures of business—dependency of business on government and dependency of government on external assistance—were both very much in evidence. The competitors, he complained, were denying the family access to their own market. If this sort of request for special treatment in the marketplace sounds backward, think back to when autoworkers in Detroit staged events to smash cars imported from Japan and auto executives sim- ilarly sought action from government to restrain trade.
The tendency of incumbents to seek protection from government is a universal one. Yet the entrepreneurs Elmira, Sara, and I met were another story. Building a successful business is a challenge anywhere; in a place like Pakistan, that challenge is aggravated by unreliable electric power, arbi- trary and incomprehensible government regulations, and a widespread external perception that the risks of doing business in the country out- weigh opportunities.
What he found was that an entire community of master weavers resided in Karachi, but they were dispersed and, as a consequence, deprived of an opportunity to use their talents.
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He decided he had to change that. So he created Khaadi, a high- end fashion label, with the dual objectives of building an internationally recognized brand and providing master weavers in his native city with a chance to practice their craft. I got him out of there, got him to my place, and got him started. He is now the head weaver, owns two cars, [and] his son goes to a super college. He ended up on the microprocessor team as the youngest member of the group developing the Itanium chip. But being in Silicon Valley at that time, he felt a strong pull to create his own company.
Within thirteen months, he sold the company. After that experience, Rahman decided to return to Pakistan. His idea was to build a matchmaking site for Muslim singles. In the course of their conversation, Rahman described the venture he had in mind.