I have just put down the latest Economic Report on Uzbekistan. While my mind is wandering about, picturing the blue mosaics of Bibi Khadym Mosque in Samarkand– I can’t help but think about Emerging Markets.
Emerging Markets have been my life for the last five years. They are scary, utterly annoying but truly fascinating. For half a decade, we went and explored, built networks and opened doors. We brought foreign investors and negotiated term sheets, endlessly focusing on our promise: Lock long-lasting competitive advantage while finding the safest structure and the best partners to enter and play.
What did we learn, what did I learn? One THING
Anyone looking to unlock true value would better not only understand different cultures and psyches- but more importantly start starring at MAPS!
Yes, Maps and all kind of maps…
Starting from the simple geographical maps. To place the lands and the seas, and particularly focus on land-locked seas or countries would greatly help identify pain points, or actually opportunities.
Then move on to natural resources, and joyfully overlay reserves status, of black gold- or pure gold, metals, and other agricultural products- that would allow for you to understand supply/ demand (im)balance at a global level and look for arbitrage. Case in point: One Belt- One Road or now known as the Silk Road Economic Belt from- Xi JinPing a true visionary!
Then get fully re-acquainted with Malthus, and understand future demographics powers and needs and wants. Oh, I am not talking about China or India. No, I am thinking the non-obvious ones: 35 Million people in Uzbekistan ready to open doors to Foreign Direct Investment after the country recent clean-up and what about 4 million people in Georgia with another 5 million tourists a year and a hub to all the Caspian markets?
Then move onto infrastructures and assess the “as is” and the needed “to be” – that will give you interesting ideas to alleviate the pain points or simply fill in the gap. Case in point Pakistan recent play in the Silk Road initiative looking to give a sea-access to China against infrastructure development in the country and oh in the process antagonize India !
Finally, this is restricted to the more daring ones- get more sophisticated, super-impose intangible reserves, like patent filling rates, or entrepreneurship mentality and you will truly unlock unknown sources of potential long-lasting value.Case in point and my personal take of the day – 2020 upcoming documentation challenge in the Shipping Industry- aka as IMO 2020- and Israel being a start-up nation at the forefront of block chain technology.
What else did I learn? Well, that curiosity actually NEVER kills the cat, on the contrary!
A deeper understanding of the world’s main flows, allows you to become a Champollion of modern times, deciphering the hieroglyphs of current political games – or for some kayfabe!
Emerging Markets are Petri dishes when it comes to understanding macro-economic and political trends and are actually training ground for a “MAP-based” type of thinking- no pun intended! – that can be meaningfully applied to pretty much everything – From real estate in London, to building a culinary school in Baku.
They ask for us to see beyond and try to make sense of events today and tomorrow. And these, vision, risk taking and long term thinking are the most critical business skills for leaders organisations truly need.
Emerging Markets push the cat to become wiser, and a wiser cat is, eventually, a wealthier cat !
Until we meet again.