Which Asian Countries Are Most Supportive of Digital Entrepreneurship?

By Donghyun Park, Yothin Jinjarak, Shu Tian

These charts illustrate how countries in Asia and around the world are doing in developing an environment that produces dynamic entrepreneurs who innovate and create jobs.

Entrepreneurs, or individuals who start and run a business, stand at the front and center of the digital economy. During COVID-19, information and communication technology helped entrepreneurs weather the unprecedented economic hardship due to lockdowns. For example, restaurateurs who were forced to close their restaurants were able to keep their businesses afloat with online orders.

Such entrepreneurial resilience, in turn, contributed to the resilience of the overall economy and society. Going forward,  digital entrepreneurship is not only vital for economic resilience but can potentially become an engine of growth in the post-pandemic world. The decision to become an entrepreneur, which is risky due to high likelihood of failure, is fundamentally an individual choice. Policy makers cannot force individuals to become entrepreneurs but they can create a conducive environment which produces more dynamic, innovative entrepreneurs who innovate and create jobs.

In this context, and as part of our research for the Asian Development Outlook 2022 Update: Entrepreneurship in the Digital Age, we produced a new index that rates the national environment for digital entrepreneurship. The Global Index of Digital Entrepreneurship Systems (GIDES) measures the quality of the environment for digital entrepreneurs by capturing the degree of digitalization in society and the economy and how effectively it supports the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The index allows for a meaningful comparison of the quality of national digital ecosystems across 113 economies.


 Singapore boasts the world’s best digital entrepreneurship system. Singapore has the top score on our index, 81.3 out of 100, ranking it first among 15 top-tier “leaders” that include, in descending order, the United States, Sweden, Denmark, and Switzerland.

The next tier comprises 10 primarily innovation-driven high-income economies such as France, Israel, and the Republic of Korea. The next 15 “catchers-up” are a mixed group that includes Chile, the People’s Republic of China, Italy, and Malaysia.

Seven developing Asian countries are among 32 that are ranked next in the index. They are mainly upper-middle income, and 10 countries are among 41 at the bottom of the index. They are mostly low and lower-middle income.


 The scores of the 21 developing Asian countries indicate that they need to put in a lot of work to improve digital entrepreneurial ecosystems. Some Asia countries did perform well, including Singapore and the Republic of Korea. However, many of Asia’s developing countries performed poorly.

This reveals plenty of scope for improving the quality of the entrepreneurial climate in the region. Scores across the index’s eight categories are relatively balanced, which suggests that a broad policy mix will have a bigger impact than focusing on any single area. Each country has a very different digital entrepreneurship system profile, which indicates the need for tailored policies on entrepreneurship and digitalization.

This blog post is based on data from the recently published Asian Development Outlook 2022 Update: Entrepreneurship in the Digital Age.