Venture investors and entrepreneurs are always looking for new markets. But usually, talk of tapping into emerging economies is limited to the two usual suspects: China and India.
A trove of data released this week by the World Bank, however, might provide some idea of new places to look. The nicely mashable datasets (http://data.worldbank.org) are broken down by country and cover such topics as cell phone and Internet penetration, financial sector fundamentals, and energy consumption.
I spent a bit of time this afternoon poking around some of the lists. Based on that, following are some ideas for what might be the places most in need of services in the following sectors:
Internet Access: Bangladesh has a population of 160 million, but just 0.35% of people had access to the Internet as of 2008. In Afghanistan, just 1.7% had access. And North Korea, not known for its friendliness to Internet startups, came in last at 0%.
Cell Phone Service: In Yemen, there are just 16 subscriptions to mobile phone service per 100 people. The island nation of Vanuatu has just 15. And Bangladesh, with a population of 160 million, has 28 per hundred.
Loan processing: How about Madagascar? The island off the eastern coast of Africa boats an interest rate of 45% for prime borrowers. Banks in The Gambia, Mongolia and Tajikistan, meanwhile, charge average rates of 27%, 20.6% and 23.7%.