These economic innovators are thriving in surprising places.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because economic success can be found in unlikely places.
The global economy does not move as one. At any given time, some countries run hot and others run cold, based on a vast array of factors. But with the Next Recession looming at some point in the U.S. and the rest of the rich world, we here at OZY thought it would be a good time to explore the places you wouldn’t expect to be doing well — and find some aspects of their economies worth imitating elsewhere. So here are your Hidden Boomers.
Experiencing village poverty while growing up planted a sense of social justice in Brigitha Faustin. Years later, she has built a business on sourcing sunflower seeds from 1,200 smallholder farmers — 90 percent of whom are women — to produce affordable cooking oil for Tanzanian families. By cutting off the middlemen, she can pay the farmers four times the usual price of seeds and still compete with the prices for locally produced pure sunflower oil.
Faustin is among the African entrepreneurs tapping into what economists have labeled Africa’s “new oil” — the soil itself — and changing lives for farmers at the same time. By investing in processing, the agribusiness sector can turn into a $1 trillion industry by 2030, according to the African Development Bank.
In Tanzania, the agriculture sector accounts for 30 percent of the gross domestic product — which has been steadily growing at more than 5 percent per year — and employs 67 percent of the workforce. And although the sector is gradually modernizing, many smallholder farmers still live below the national poverty line, and consumers’ increasing demands for processed foods are met by imported goods.
When the International Monetary Fund projected recently that Guyana’s economy could jump by 86 percent in 2020, it credited new oil and gas discoveries in the country. But a different buzz is exciting two of its premier industries, agribusiness and tourism. The South American nation is looking for a marriage between those sectors to offer a new attraction to visitors: bees.
Guyana’s not alone. For decades, the Caribbean has counted on its pristine beaches — and Guyana on its lush rainforests — to pull in millions of visitors. Now, the region’s countries are increasingly also looking to attract visitors with beekeeping tours, in the hopes of diversifying tourism offerings. They’re turning to bee tourism — also known as apitourism — at a time the populations of more than 700 North American bee varieties are on the decline, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
After years of hardship, a surprise turnaround of Mongolia’s economic fortunes over the past 18 months has sent growth of the country’s luxury market through the roof. The timing couldn’t be better, thanks to an unrelated circumstance at home and abroad — a coordinated push to increase tourism from neighboring China and the collapse of mainland spending in Hong Kong’s luxury goods market. All of this has aligned to make Mongolia, and in particular its capital, Ulaanbaatar, an emerging destination for China’s luxury spending.
Poland is emerging as an unlikely world leader in exporting video games, riding on a domestic information technology tradition and universities that have long encouraged gaming. Poland’s exports of video and card games rose from $94 million in 2012 to $808 million in 2017. The most iconic Polish computer game is Wiedzmin, based on a popular novel, which has sold some 33 million copies all over the world. In the country there are approximately 800 game companies.