Emerging Markets Have Emerged: Next Stop for Some Companies the Global Fortune 500?

Game-changing endeavors from the developing world are no longer only occurring in China and India–Thailand, Egypt, Malaysia and others are making moves on the global scene.



The world’s emerging economies are no longer simply “emerging”–they are rapidly growing. In some case, in fact, they have arrived.

South Africa is to launch its own international aid agency, the economy of the continent of Africa is expected to grow at a rate of 5% this year, and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has named companies in over 16 countries, including Egypt, Thailand, Chile, and Malaysia, that are now deemed “Global Challengers” because of their innovations that are re-shaping global industries.

While Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC) get most of the attention as far as emerging economies, some of the world’s less heralded countries are beginning to make their mark.

South Africa was just tapped to join BRIC (hence, BRICS) and is now launching its own aid agency in the early half of this year to help support the growth and stability of other African nations.

“South Africa is in a unique position,” Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, Director-General of the South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation, told IRIN. “We’re recipients of development assistance, and we’re anxious that that status be preserved. At the same time … we’re in the African continent and in that context we occupy a relatively privileged position. Aid is not just about reducing poverty, it’s a very strategic investment.”


Africa’s economy, as mentioned, is projected to grow 5% this year, compared to 4.7% last year, and 2.9% in 2009. Africa’s economy appears to be inextricably linked to Asia’s–the UN, as Reuters noted recently, has said that: “The recovery of global trade and the strong economic rebound in East Asia is supported by a strong rebound in Africa’s commodity exports.”

That piece added: “Increased government spending on infrastructure, strong performance of the agricultural sector and new inflows of foreign investments in extractive industries underpinned strong growth in domestic demand.” Uganda and Zambia, in particular, are helping drive that growth.

And BCG has also taken note of these trends–according to their latest report, companies in countries such as Indonesia, Argentina, India and China “have been the hidden engines of the global economy.”

“Within the next five years, about 50 of the global challengers could qualify for inclusion in the Fortune Global 500,” the report notes.

The reach of China’s construction enterprises, for example, is no surprise, but the report highlights that the China State Construction Engineering Corporation already has a significant presence in the U.S., the UAE, India and North Africa–a fact that further reinforces the growing global role of entities from the world’s emerging economies and their border-hopping activity, such as South Africa’s collaboration with India on innovative vaccine research.


As for Egypt, the El Sewedy Electric company is pioneering wind and renewable energy in the Middle East and North Africa. In India, where the pharmaceutical industry is a primary supplier of life-saving drugs to other developing countries, the country’s Lupin Pharmaceuticals reported $1 billion in revenues in 2010.

Taken together, this recent news makes it clear that the world’s political, power and innovation dynamics are shifting–who knows, perhaps the United States’ debt to China will one day be converted to  “international aid.”

Follow me, Jenara Nerenberg, on Twitter.

[Image: flickr user crcollins]

About the author

Jenara is an overseas reporter for Fast Company and a freelance writer/producer in Asia, regularly on CNNGo, and a graduate of Harvard and UC Berkeley.