Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Export Opportunities in the New Middle East

Libya, Bahrain and Yemen are following closely on the heels of Tunisia and Egypt as the next Middle-Eastern countries to rise up and demand democratic representation. It seems the United States' hushed and extended stay in Iraq has had the effect of introducing democracy to the Middle East in a powerful, unstoppable way.

If things continue the way they are--which they most likely will--the world will soon see a new democratic powerhouse to compete with the U.S. and the E.U. And this new democratic powerhouse will undoubtably have an insatiable desire for Western and European imports as they get on their feet.

The revolution contagion will open up the doors to the Middle East for Western small businesses in more ways than ever before. But before the floodgates open, I'd like to take a minute to make a world-wide public service announcement.

The United States' business world can choose between two routes when demand for imports skyrockets: the traditional method of exporting obesity, gluttony, greed and a dumbing-down of social culture, or a new ideology of exporting products and services designed to improve the quality of life in the Middle East.

America prides itself on exporting Coca-Cola and McDonald's around the world, and at first glance that seems like a success story. A deeper look reveals that we have a tendency to export our most vicious and destructive vices to developing economies like China and India. Companies like McDonald's are not just an American icon, they are a major contributor to a serious obesity epidemic that costs thousands of lives in our country, regardless of how many salads they put on their menu.

Instead of exporting our worst traits, why not export our virtues? I'm looking for solar panel manufacturers, electric vehicle producers, efficient infrastructure designers, social media marketers and other eco- and socially-conscious businesses to offer their products and services to the infant democracies of the Middle East before socially-destructive mega-corporations entrench themselves in Middle-Eastern life.

Let's not export Hollywood, Burger King and Guess jeans to an area of the world struggling to pull itself out from under decades of oppression. Let's export birth control, communications technology and for-profit education. Let's not export diet pills and OCD pills and depression pills and allergy pills; those are our crutches, and the new democracies do not deserve to be burdened by them. Let's export grassroots political campaign experience, renewable fuel technology and our nation's vast range of nonprofit organizations to the Middle East. Let's export our most admirable and useful products, services and cultural aspects to our new neighbors.

What products and services can your business offer to the new Middle East that do not introduce the darker parts of American culture?

Read More
Daily News Pulse: McDonald's is Still a Favorite Around the World
China Business Review: Coco-Cola in China - Quenching the Thirst of Millions

If you build that foundation, both the moral and the ethical foundation, as well as the business foundation, and the experience foundation, then the building won't crumble. - Henry Kravis Share

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