MANILA, PHILIPPINES (21 September 2022) — Four-fifths of developing Asian economies place toward the bottom in a global ranking of digital environments and support systems for entrepreneurs, according to a new index developed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Singapore has the world’s best digital environment and support system for entrepreneurs, according to the Global Index of Digital Entrepreneurship Systems, released today as part of the Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2022 Update. The United States ranks second, while Sweden takes third place among 113 economies on the list. But 17 of the 21 developing Asian economies included are ranked toward the bottom—underscoring the need for many of them to nurture digital entrepreneurship.

Digitalization offers big growth opportunities for businesses in Asia and the Pacific. It’s a driver of innovation, which is key for economies striving to achieve high-income status. It can also make economies more resilient, as seen when digital technology helped many businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic, and it can promote inclusive growth by lowering the cost of starting a business.

“Digital entrepreneurship helped economies stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it can become a major engine of growth and innovation in the post-pandemic world,” said ADB Chief Economist Albert Park. “For this to happen, there needs to be a supportive environment enabled by conducive policies and incentives. While the environment for Asia’s digital entrepreneurs made substantial strides in the past couple of years, there’s still a lot of room for improvement.”

The index measures the quality of the environment for digital entrepreneurs by looking at the level of digitalization in eight areas: culture, institutions, market conditions, infrastructure, human capital, knowledge, finance, and networking.

In addition to investing in digital infrastructure such as broadband networks, governments need to promote political stability, reliable legal systems, open and competitive markets, and strong property rights. An ADB analysis shows that strong rule of law has a positive effect on enterprise innovation, while less corruption in a society is correlated with an increase in the entry of new entrepreneurs in the market.

For Asia and the Pacific as a whole, an insufficiently supportive culture is among the biggest weak spots when it comes to nurturing digital entrepreneurship. One example is a general lack of public appreciation for the vital role that entrepreneurs play in economic progress. One way to change this is to improve the public perception of entrepreneurship through education.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

Global Index of Digital Entrepreneurship Systems Scores

  Rank out of 113 global economies Score (0-100)
Singapore 1 81.3
United States 2 79.7
Sweden 3 79.6
Denmark 4 78.8
Switzerland 5 76.9
Netherlands 6 75.6
Finland 7 73.3
Norway 8 69.9
Luxembourg 9 69.6
United Kingdom 10 69.0
Republic of Korea 22 54.1
Malaysia 27 43.1
People's Republic of China 39 35.3
Georgia 50 28.3
Kazakhstan 52 27.4
Armenia 58 26.0
Thailand 59 25.9
Azerbaijan 60 25.5
Viet Nam 63 23.1
Indonesia 71 20.4
India 75 19.6
Philippines 79 18.5
Sri Lanka 82 17.5
Mongolia 84 17.2
Kyrgyz Republic 88 15.2
Tajikistan 95 12.8
Bangladesh 96 12.5
Pakistan 97 12.3
Cambodia 101 12.0
Nepal 104 11.5

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