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THE INVESTOR
November 21, 2018
Big Reunion

Startups & Investors

Top IFC official urges better entrepreneurial ecosystem in Korea

  • PUBLISHED :October 30, 2018 - 17:05
  • UPDATED :October 30, 2018 - 17:06
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[THE INVESTOR] Korea lacks efficient systems to foster entrepreneurs and needs to step up if it wants to tackle the scourge of rising unemployment, according to a top World Bank Group executive.

“Korea needs a role model to look up to foster entrepreneurship conducive for future job creation”, Vivek Pathak, director and regional head of International Finance Corp., East Asia Pacific, told The Investor in a recent interview in Seoul. 

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, offers investment, advisory and asset-management services to encourage private-sector development in developing countries. 

Vivek Pathak, director and regional head of International Finance Corp., East Asia Pacific makes a speech at the third IFC Innovation Day on Oct. 29. 
IFC Korea



“I don’t think Korea lacks creativity when you see other sectors such as sports, music and entertainment, but when it comes to fostering entrepreneurship the country lacks role models to look up to,” he noted.

While Korea and countries like China have an educational system criticized for suppressing creativity of students, China has many celebrated entrepreneurs like Alibaba founder Jack Ma, he added.

“Entrepreneurs are important sources of innovation, productivity growth and employment. They are the ones who can achieve huge unrealized potential by seeking innovative solutions to challenges today. Creating an ecosystem that encourages entrepreneurship is critical for countries to achieve sustainable growth,” he said.

“Getting rid of the fear of failing is another critical factor and challenge for Korea. There needs to be a mindset change that failure is not bad.”

Pathak, who joined IFC in 1998, made a keynote speech at the third Innovation Day conference organized by the Korean unit of IFC titled “Jobs of the Future.”

He continues to be positive on fears of potential job losses amid the technological transformation.

“If you look at the top 10 companies by the biggest market cap in the US today, many of them did not exist 25-30 years ago. There will be job losses in certain sectors but jobs of tomorrow will be created in industries and sectors that did not exist years ago,” he said.

More important is where these new jobs will be generated, Pathak and other experts at the conference said.

Lee Min-wha, chairman of Korea Creative Economy Research Network and professor at KAIST emphasized that jobs do not disappear but are just replaced by jobs created by new disrupted technology. Many of the new jobs will be in line with people’s desire to express themselves.

IFC, which has invested half a billion dollars in venture investments globally in the past 18 years, is dedicated to investing in emerging markets and a large portion of investments goes to countries like India.

“Even though we don’t directly invest in Korea, we hope we can help Korean companies reach out to global markets,” Pathak said.

“It is the right timing for Korean companies as K-pop is getting hugely popular overseas.”

By Park Ga-young (gypark@heraldcorp.com)

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