Manila forecast to be next ‘great global city’

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FORGET Silicon Valley. The Philippines could be a fertile ground for the next disruptive startup tech company like Uber or Alibaba.

This is according to Josette Sheeran, president of New York-based Asia Society, who cited the rise of cities as one of the megatrends affecting micro and small and medium enterprises (SME) in the world.

“Manila is predicted to be the next great global city at the center of innovation,” Sheeran said in a presentation at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) SME Summit Tuesday, Nov. 17.

“I don’t know what’s happening here but the world is paying attention. What that means is opportunity is coming in a way that we would not have felt or predicted in the past,” she said.

Sheeran cited a study made in 2014 that listed the next global hubs for innovation, topped by Jakarta while Metro Manila ranked second. The list also included Nairobi, Mumbai, Bogota, New Delhi and Addis Ababa.

The Asia Society chief said Manila’s way of doing business and experience in dealing its urban challenges manifested the rising power of cities.

Globally, Sheeran said between 2010 and 2025, 440 cities of the world would generate half of global gross domestic product (GDP) growth, many of which were cities that most people have not heard of.

Megatrends are defined as profound social and economic changes creating waves that could either sweep away nations that are unprepared for them.

The rise of Asia is another megatrend cited by Sheeran, who noted that the world has yet to fully appreciate the brilliance of this region. Since 1901, she noted that only 68 out of 900 Nobel laureates were chosen out of Asia.

As such, she said Asia Society sought to fill in the recognition gap with the launch of its annual “Asia Game-Changer” awards.

The rise of connectivity is another megatrend cited by Sheeran, who pointed   out that the rise of the smartphone has become the core technology of the developing world. She said humanity was just at the beginning of how connectivity could change the world.

It is the same connectivity that had created companies like the car-booking firm Uber or China-based online market Alibaba.

Sheeran said the next Uber or Alibaba could be born in the Philippines.

The rise of self-empowerment is likewise another megatrend seen influencing SMEs.

The dismantling of barriers to entry, mostly with the use of technology, is allowing individuals to tackle everyday problems by themselves.

“Even at a small scale you can create things to inspire the world,” she said.