There are few spots more in need of entrepreneurship–and entrepreneurial leadership–than the middle east. As we note in the book, the gap between “haves” and “have nots” is growing there at a rate that governments can’t (or won’t) address. Thus entrepreneurial leaders need to step into the fray to make opportunities where they can’t be found. This won’t always be easy, and models for success are few and far between.
But here’s one model worth a careful look: the Anatolians of Turkey. As Guy Sorman reports in City Journal:
Fueling this economic expansion is a new generation of entrepreneurs from Anatolia, in eastern Turkey. These businesspeople are conservative Muslims, but they aren’t extremists. The Anatolians are astonishing; no one can say for sure how they arrived on the scene as the dynamic engine of Turkish modernity. Ask an Anatolian entrepreneur about this success and he may credit a strong work ethic, combined with family values ingrained in the Muslim faith. Or he may mention the business traditions of Anatolia, a crossroads between Asia and Europe under the Ottoman Empire. Pamuk, a secular Turk, points to mundane factors like the Anatolians’ low labor costs and Turkey’s proximity to the vast European market: Turkey now exports 25 percent of its national production, up from 3 percent in 1980. Whatever the reason for the Anatolian breakthrough, Islam has not impeded it.
Will the Turkish model spread to nearby Arab countries?