OCTOBERASIA BUSINESS OUTLOOK19Asia's rise since 2000 has been one of the amazing economic stories of the 21st century. At the start of the century, China was a $1.2 trillion economy; if you combined China with India and Indonesia, you still had a GDP that was less than a tenth of the G7's. Today, the GDP of China alone is close to $15 trillion, and India and the countries of Southeast Asia have vaulted to much higher positions among world economies. In 2000, only 1 in every 20 Fortune 500 companies was based in Asia, and only one of every nine patents granted globally was to an Asian company. And it would have been impossible to calculate the Western-to-Asian ratio of unicorns--a proxy for the dynamism of a region's startup sector--because Asia had no unicorns. Today, Mainland China alone has more companies than the US in the Fortune 500. Emerging Asia (China, India, and Southeast Asia) has many companies growing much faster than Western companies. And Asia is home to one-third of the world's unicorns.Singapore, with an immensely business friendly environment and access to venture capital, is Southeast Asia's core nervous system for start-ups. Companies, after launching in the island nation, can then test their products in tech-savvy Malaysia before scaling up to reach the 350 million people in Indonesia and the Philippines, the latter also a prime destination for setting up service and delivery centers. Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia are coming into focus as well. At Asia Business Outlook, we begin to curate a list of those business leaders that have transformed businesses, disrupted industries and redefined development as we know it.
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