Malaysia is one of the most vibrant countries in Southeast Asia. The country prides on its beautiful beaches and its culinary scene. But what is rarely mentioned is the fact that Malaysia offers a high-quality alternative to Silicon Valley. The country is home to an incredibly literate and tech-savvy population. This is the perfect formula for entrepreneurs: a highly-educated, English-speaking population that is also hungry for digital innovation.
When you combine the English-speaking population and the high GDP per capita, it’s not hard to see why Malaysia is such a desirable place for business. There are no restrictions on opening a business, and the business environment is one of the most welcoming in all of Southeast Asia.
A High-Quality Education
The first thing that strikes you when you visit Malaysia is just how clever and intelligent its citizens are. From a very young age, children in Malaysia are taught the valuable skill of logic. While in the U.S. you might learn to count to ten in English, in Malaysia you’ll be learning how to use math in a language that you’ll be using in your entire life. This focus on education doesn’t just apply to math and the sciences; the English language and literature are taught at an early age too.
In light of this emphasis on education, it comes as no surprise that a large number of entrepreneurs in Malaysia are either graduates or have graduated from college. According to the most recent figures that apply, there are currently around 50,000 registered companies in Malaysia. This figure represents an increase of 15% from the previous year. Amongst these companies, there are a large number of SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises), which is also a measure of the country’s vibrant entrepreneurial spirit. Around 80% of all businesses in Malaysia are classified as SMEs. Incomes are also quite high across the board, which gives the country’s entrepreneurs all the motivation they need to keep going.
A Vibrant Tech Sector
To understand why startups in Malaysia are so successful it’s important to first understand the role that technology plays in the country. In many ways, Malaysia is a pioneer in the field of information technology. Back in 1995, the country became the first in Southeast Asia to offer local access to the World Wide Web. Since then, the tech sector has boomed, and Malaysia now offers a wide range of internet services and platforms, from cyber cafés to online forums.
It’s not just limited to the internet either. The country also leads the way in the field of computer science, with most of its universities holding world-class rankings. In fact, many of Malaysia’s universities boast high employment rates, with many graduates finding employment in the tech sector. Many international companies have also opened offices in the country, further enhancing its reputation as a desirable place to do business.
An Open Business Environment
Alongside its high-quality educational institutions and flourishing tech sector, Malaysia also has one of the most open business environments in the world. The country abolished its capital gains tax in 2018, and it also completely eliminated its corporation tax that same year. This could be a huge boost to entrepreneurs who are based in Malaysia or who plan to invest there. The country also offers a 100% foreign ownership of businesses, which means that any entrepreneur, no matter where they’re from, can set up shop under their own flag and begin to flourish.
Silicon Valley in Southeastern Asia
If you’re unfamiliar, Silicon Valley is referred to as the “Valley of the Tech-Savvy”, due to the fact that so many of its inhabitants are extremely tech-savvy and innovative. People in the Valley are often referred to as “Silicon Unicorns” due to their immense wealth and how quickly they can come up with great ideas and innovations. Not many countries can proudly claim that they’re “the Silicon Valley of…” anything, but Malaysia can.
What is unique and interesting about the country is that it combines all of the above, creating a winning combination for entrepreneurs. You have a high-quality education system, a booming tech sector and an open business environment. It’s fair to say that you couldn’t put a better package together if you tried.
Malaysia does not have one or two big industries that dominate the country. Instead, it has a variety of smaller industries, which is a sign of how competitive its entrepreneurs are. In many ways, Malaysia is the Silicon Valley of Southeast Asia, and you might not even need to leave the country to find your fortune.