When you hear the word “startup,” you might think of an up and coming tech company in Silicon Valley or a mobile app company based in a garage in New York. However, a “startup” can enjoy different levels of success and it largely depends on where it begins. There are many developing countries with promising startups that might not look or act like the archetypal American startup, but are important and providing jobs, income and resources for locals.
Here are a few startups in developing regions and countries around the world who are redefining small business. There are lessons to be learned from all startups regardless of success, failure, size or address. What can the average American entrepreneur learn from these small businesses?
1. Bethanie’s Group: Congo, Africa
A local Congo bank group Bethanie, based in Brazzaville, has joined forces to create a popular food stand—much like the food carts trending in the US. They create homemade food and killer coffee and snacks. Recently adding spaghetti, milk and sugar to the shopping list, these key ingredients make up a favorite breakfast dish that’s based on a diet of beans. By depending on fostering relationships respecting customers and great service, Bethanie Group has carved out a niche as a leading mom and pop diner.
2. NOVICO Metal Artist: Peru
There’s a Peruvian metal artist, Miguel, who creates stunning sculptures out of 100 percent recycled metal. By finding raw materials, he says, “I’m a self-taught and impassioned artist. I was only 13 years old when I began to make my own toys…I used to tear apart other toys and use their components to create my own versions.” Currently, he sells his art on the NOVICO website, a platform for artists around the world, but hopes to create his own gallery and retail site soon.
3. Willinton Furniture: Medellin, Colombia
A skilled carpenter, Willinton Alexander began carpentry at age 12 and 100 percent of his income comes from furniture crafting. As an independent contractor, he’s looking to add new tools and technology to his craft and expanding to collaborate with other Colombian craftsmen.
4. Taxi Business: Sana’a, Yemen
Going solely by the name of Sami, this Yemen entrepreneur is carving out a niche for himself in the capital city of Sana’a. University educated and currently working in a private sector, he realized quickly that even at a decent salary in a capital city, it isn’t enough to thrive, which is why he turned to the idea of operating his own taxi company. What started as the equivalent of a “gypsy cab” business has prospered and become legitimate and more lucrative than any “regular” job that’s accessible in the city.
5. Animal Husbandry: Fayzabad, Tajikistan
In the small village of Gayzabad, a young man started raising and selling cattle—which expanded into a profitable business. Now, Shokirjon has partnered with extended family members to regularly purchase licestock. He keeps each of his purchases for 30-60 days, fattening them up and then selling or slaughtering the animals for profit.
The entrepreneurial spirit knows no geographical boundaries. Startups can succeed in every part of the world as long as the ambition is there.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi