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Friendliest country in Asia for entrepreneurs? Try Indonesia.

A recent BBC Global Survey ranked it just behind the US as one of the world's friendliest countries for entrepreneurs.

By Correspondent / July 25, 2011

High-rise buildings under construction rise behind a market in Jakarta on July 5.

Bay Ismoyo/AFP/Newscom

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Nusa Dua, Indonesia

Nadiem Makarim, the young founder of Go-Jek, a motorcycle taxi company in Jakarta, represents the new face of business in Indonesia.

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More comfortable in a T-shirt and sandals than a suit, the recent Harvard Business School graduate conceived the idea for his company while zooming through Jakarta’s gridlock on an ojek, one of Indonesia's ubiquitous motorcycle taxis.

“I figured that there was this huge idle capacity within Jakarta that needed to be taken advantage of,” says Mr. Makarim, referring to demand for efficient transportation coupled with the need for more jobs among Indonesia’s low-skilled workers.

Makarim is one of the winners of a business plan competition sponsored by the State Department’s Global Entrepreneurship Program, USAID and private partners in Indonesia.

His ambition to create a social enterprise that takes advantage of a market gap shows where Indonesia is headed as tech-savvy, often Western-educated youths build businesses catered toward improving their country.

“Their business plans are well thought out, they are frequently very creative, in many cases they are addressing problems that need to be solved and identifying situations where they believe they can make a difference,” says Loretta McCarthy, the founder of angel investor group Golden Seeds and part of an 11-member delegation of top US investors that visited Indonesia over the weekend as part of an entrepreneurship program.

'New Beginnings'

First outlined by US President Obama during his “New Beginnings” speech in Egypt in 2009, the program supports entrepreneurs in Muslim majority emerging economies by linking them with mentors and access to financing.

Indonesia is the second country after Egypt to implement the pilot, which officials say supports stable democracy by creating jobs and growing local economies.

“It makes for a more prosperous, peaceful, stabler more secure world,” said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at an Asia-Pacific regional entrepreneurship summit in Bali over the weekend.

In Cairo the program hosted a “boot camp.” In Jakarta, hundreds of budding entrepreneurs participated in “speed dating” sessions where they pitched their business idea to potential investors.

The 500 participants in the business competition included Rinny, the creator of an integrated waste management system that produces organic fertilizer and Donald Wijardja from Indomog, an online payment system that lets people buy digital goods and services using gaming vouchers.

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