The letter states:
Doug says, “You could airdrop me naked and penniless into the heart of the Congo, and by the time I emerged, I’d not just have survived, I’d come out wealthy.” Maybe you guys could speculate, if you were Doug, what would you do in these countries to become wealthy?
Well, I’m not going to try and answer a “WWDD” (What Would Doug Do?) type of question, but I can share a couple of suggestions:
To become wealthy in another country is the same process as to become wealthy in your own country (at least from an entrepreneurial / investment perspective):
- Find a need or problem to be solved.
- Develop a solution to that need or problem. (Or, better yet, hypothesize the solution, go onto step three and see if there is a market, then produce it.)
- Find a group of people willing to pay you a high enough price to cover the costs of providing the solution and earn you a good profit.
- Sell the solution.
- Repeat as needed until you have as much as you want.
Obviously, different places will have different ways of approaching this process. In some places, political connections are paramount. In others not so much. In some places, the administration of bureaucracy is crippling and virtually requires an expert to manage the process. In others (like the West for the most part), rules are pretty clear cut, even though there are many.
Of course, some places are much better (and easier) for achieving wealth – the US is still a great place to get started for those coming from a foreign country with limited capital. On the other hand, no matter how much capital I had, I’d be very careful about going into Belarus or Venezuela.
But the process itself is sound and the method by which many individuals have created wealth since the beginning of time, from the earliest trader selling vegetables at the market to the most sophisticated computer systems that run Fortune 500 companies.
In terms of specific solutions, you really need to get on the ground to find that out.
However, if I may give one more further suggestion, providing services to a Western-oriented expat community in a place very different to where they came from is never a terrible place to start looking for opportunities. With relatively few exceptions, expats have more resources than most and are willing to pay to have someone provide products or services that make getting used to a new place a little easier.