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Business Ideas in Developing Countries

This is a little bit more strategical post. Don't expect me to give you ideas how to put $1,000 into a venture, do nothing and get back $100,000. No. I don't know how to do this. I just want to get you thinking about the possibility to move or travel regularly to a less developed country and do business there with little startup capital. Why would you want to do that? Life's hard there, no? One main reason: those markets are often underserved and have enormous potential to grow. Don't underestimate the competition though: mobile operators, financial services and real estate investors are already there in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Long, long, before you.

So, what kind of business you can think about?

All Kind Of Affordable Stuff & Tech


People in the "third world" do not live in isolation from the modern technologies. They just can't afford them in the same way you can. So bringing affordable tech to them can be really profitable. This population is not rich, but there are a lot of people there. If you can earn $1 from a million customers that's not bad. So, if you have big resources you can invest in creating affordable tech. There is a lot to learn from especially in India for example - there were several attempts to sell people cheap phones and tables, some of which successful. You can learn a lot from this. Think also cheap cars (Tata), bikes, all kind of mobile tech and services.

These ideas are mostly big business. As a small business you can succeed by importing used tech in some local area. But be warry that these people are used to this and local business are already offering them pretty creative solutions. So if you want your place in such market you really need to have something good to offer.

Don't underestimate these customers. They may not be rich, but they still want quality things. Thinking that you'll sell them ugly dumb phone without any features is not going to take you too far. Many tech giants already failed by going this route.


Education is in very high demand in the developing countries. People are underserved and value the opportinity to get educated which can help them get out of poverty. And "online" is not the answer here - there are a lot of sites with free online lessons and courses on everything. What these people need is practical education delivered locally. If you are going to do it online, it must be something very specific for their country and market.

Don't forget these people don't have a lot of money. While they won't spare expenses to educate their children, they simply don't have a lot to pay. So making such business work is a challenge. One solution is to work with local governments and non-profits to finance your projects to some extent. To do this you should plan something that would really benefit the local community.

Use The Workforce

It's not news that the labout is much cheaper in the developing world. And there are many companies which use this to open call centers, outsource shopts, manufactures etc. If you have the resources you can probably benefit too. Think about doing something different than the others do. Think about bringing some technology to the labour intensive manufacture or agriculture people there do. Even a small change can make big impact and give you competitive advantage.

Technology outsourcing is really good option. Think software and India but do it elsewhere. Of course there is a big hurdle - you need good educated people to do it. Maybe if you think long-term you can combine this with education and prepare your people yourself. You can't get an illiterate and teach them to program in 3 months but you can do it with someone who have been to school. Especially if they speak English.

And it's not just software. With the new technologies you can have a team doing all kind of intellectual work all over the world for clients who are on the other side of the globe. Creativity is of course required.

Solve Local Problems

Clean water, electricity, internet, delivery of stuff, bad air... People in the developing world have all kind of problems you can't even think about. If you can afford to go at a chosen "third world" country and live for few months there, do it and you'll learn a lot. This can give you many business ideas for all kind of small and big businesses. See the WakaWaka project for example - they deliver excellent solar lamp to people in areas without electricity.


Don't foget tourism, it can be very good business in underdeveloped places. Adventorous tourists are under-served. While many of them won't use a tourist agency, they still need a place to stay and to eat. Opening a hostel in a place with low competition can be a really good venture. Providing transportation services to remote but interesting place too. And many more of course. Just get ideas from the developed places and transport and adapt them in the less developed ones.

Working in the developing world is not for everyone and is not a get rich quick scheme. However it can be very rewarding not only financially.

Published at Nov, 24 '15 , Read 3316 times.

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