"Destiny" and "opportunity" are the reasons Thomas Woo, president of Hong Kong lifestyle store City Super, gives for returning home to Asia after studying in the U.S.
Woo is just one of many successful Asian entrepreneurs, who while educated in the U.S. or having spent some time on Wall Street, opted to return home to put their ideas into play.
"I was going to work in the U.S. after graduation but then fate intervened," says the Hong-Kong born entrepreneur, who though tempted to stay in the U.S. after he graduated from Eastern Oregon State University, returned to Asia. In 1996, he set up City Super in Hong Kong with friends to cater to a growing appetite for high-end lifestyle products.
"I remember when I was studying in the U.S., people were just starting to talk about the future of the Pacific-Rim and China was opening up. So even though that was in the early days we did see opportunities popping up," Woo added.
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Asia's rapid economic development and a growing consumer class in countries such as China, India and Indonesia means the temptation to return home for those Asian entrepreneurs with a Western education is strong, analysts said.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) forecasts that as a result of the rapid economic growth in Asia outside Japan, spending by the middle-class will surpass that of the U.S., European Union and Japan combined by 2022.
It is this lucrative market that is bringing Asians back from Western countries such as the U.S., which has long been a magnet for talented professionals and business people.
The latest Forbes list of successful entrepreneurs in China under the age of 30 offers some examples of those who were educated overseas and returned home to set up their business, taking advantage of a boom in the Chinese economy.
Chen Ou, number two on the list, got his MBA from Stanford University before coming back to China to set up jumei.com, an online cosmetics retailer, in 2010. The site has about four million registered users and sells products from Calvin Klein and Elizabeth Arden, according to Forbes.
Mykolas Rambus, the CEO of Wealth-X, a research firm that tracks the ultra-wealthy, says Asia is about 15 years into a 150-year wealth creation cycle and that means the region is an ideal place to be in if you have a great idea.
"We're about 15 years into the process of wealth creation across Asia, so we've got a long way to go, which is a good thing for entrepreneurs in Asia," Rambus said. "Growth will come from new places; we will think mostly there will be consumer driven opportunities and businesses that cater to the middle classes in China, India, and Indonesia."
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