Opinion - Taiwan’s Big Challenge: Nurturing Foreign Entrepreneurs

(Image credit: Creative Commons Zero - CC0/ Max Pixel)

(Image credit: Creative Commons Zero - CC0/ Max Pixel)

Taiwan has initiated many programs to attract more foreign talent and investors to set up business in Taiwan. The fact that Taiwanese youngsters are now being drained to develop their career and study abroad means Taiwan needs more foreigners to collaboratively help with Taiwan's economy. Foreign entrepreneurs do not only drive economic growth, but they can also provide real jobs for local people.

Unfortunately, foreigners still face some hard barriers to set up business in Taiwan. Barrier of language would be significant factor since English speaking people in Taipei are not as numerous as those in Shanghai, Hong Kong or Singapore. In order to learn about the market, find strategic partners and investors, and to market their product, foreign entrepreneurs will heavily rely on local people unless they can possess good Chinese language skills. This barrier of language is crucial because without an international medium of communication, people will fail to build good relationships which are actually an important determinant of a business' future success.

Another problem is the conventional banking system, with the high cost for international transactions and difficulties in proposing and securing loans, which can be significant demotivating factors for foreign entrepreneurs. The falling economy of Taiwan, and the trend of Taiwanese companies investing their money abroad also make foreigners feel pessimistic about executing their brilliant entrepreneurial ideas in Taiwan.

Another issue is the widespread imitation by local people and businesses that confronts foreigners developing innovative business ideas. Kenneth Kraemer from Paul Merage, School of Business in UC Irvine stated in an interview that Taiwan is good at showing how fast imitation boosts developing economies. They learn, duplicate and finally they create their own innovation, “don’t set up business in Taiwan, people can easily imitate your innovation here,”says Mr. Roberto a former entrepreneur in Taichung city, Taiwan. This is a major challenge for foreign entrepreneurs and if not properly anticipated, it will continue to be a barrier for growing new businesses.

Despite supporting good environmental policies, and the country's government assistance for foreign entrepreneurs, there are still many foreigners who do not fully appreciate the many opportunities that living in Taiwan and doing non-entrepreneurial activities here provides. The orderliness, security and friendliness of local people has become a reason for many foreigners to do what ever they can to secure an entrepreneur visa, and residence permit to stay in Taiwan.

About the author

Donny Susilo is foreign entrepreneur and alumni of Asia University, Taiwan. He is an international business plan consultant, founder of cumajob.com, and the Jakarta business plan training club with more than 1000 members. He is now living in Taichung City, Taiwan. Email: Donnysusilo777@gmail.com