Best Countries to Start a Business

In recent years, the world of work has undergone quite a transformation. Remote working and conference calling have become mainstays, now out of choice rather than necessity, while many are considering trading in employment for entrepreneurship. Running your own business presents many opportunities, one of those being flexibility as to where you choose to launch it. Where you choose to establish your business can have a significant impact on its chances of success, as well as on your quality of life as a business owner.

That’s why we’ve shortlisted the best countries to start a business in 2023, based on findings from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s (GEM) latest study, which focuses on the theme of ‘Adapting to the New Normal’.

Best Countries To Be An Entrepreneur

Below you’ll find the top five countries to be an entrepreneur as outlined by the GEM report. The rankings were made according to several metrics relating to support for entrepreneurs, adequate infrastructure, educational factors and more.


With a score of 7.2, the UAE has been ranked the most entrepreneurial country in the world for two years running. The UAE scores consistently above average, notably for its physical infrastructure, governmental support and social culture that supports entrepreneurship. These conditions combined make the UAE an ideal context for budding entrepreneurs to thrive.

More than just a hotspot for expats, the UAE government’s plan confirms that significant investment is going into building the nation’s knowledge economy and supporting “entrepreneurship and advanced industries”. There are many initiatives in place to nurture homegrown projects such as the Dubai Economic Agenda D33. On top of that, it is easier to relocate to the UAE than other international business capitals. The Golden Visa and Green Visa attract international entrepreneurs and investors via self-sponsorship.

With SMEs (small and medium enterprises) already making up 95% of the UAE’s economy, start-up culture is alive and kicking. Additionally, so is the social culture surrounding entrepreneurship, with Dubai being one of the international capitals of business networking and conferences.

Saudi Arabia

Bordering the UAE both geographically and in this shortlist, Saudi Arabia is ranked the second-best country in the world for entrepreneurship with an overall score of 6.3.

Saudia Arabia scores particularly highly for its physical infrastructure, accessible market dynamics and supportive social context surrounding entrepreneurship.

Similarly to the UAE, social attitudes in Saudi Arabia are highly favourable towards starting your own business, with a staggering 95% of adults agreeing that being an entrepreneur is a positive career choice with a high status.

There are many government initiatives in place as well as venture capital availability which enables SMEs to secure the necessary financing to succeed in their business ventures.


Taiwan is ranked the third-best country in the world for entrepreneurship by the GEM report, with a score of 6.2. Ranked even higher than the UAE and Saudi Arabia for its physical infrastructure, Taiwan also scores notably high ratings for its tax conditions and bureaucracy.

In recent years, a new visa option was introduced to attract international entrepreneurship to the country. It allows newcomers to apply with a team of up to three individuals for one year. It is optional to have started the business before arrival in Taiwan, and you may be able to extend the visa if the business is a success.

Taiwan’s social culture is supportive of entrepreneurship and there are several networking opportunities which can be of interest to both Taiwanese entrepreneurs and expats.


Scoring a 6.1, the fourth top country in the world for entrepreneurship according to the GEM report is India. Similarly to Taiwan, India is a country with a lower-middle income bracket, compared with the other countries that rank highly in the list. Nevertheless, they show that a fruitful entrepreneurial context can be created regardless of income level.

India scores above average for its EFC criteria, particularly in infrastructure, ease of entry into the market and government support. Since 2019, India has seen its overall entrepreneurial score grow from 5.8 to 6.1 partly due to 2022 governmental initiatives to support smaller businesses, the “Raising and Accelerating MSME Performance” (RAMP) and “Capacity Building of First-time MSME Exporters” projects.

As the COVID-19 pandemic severely hit India, its economy has also suffered. It seems this has had a knock-on effect on the social attitudes towards the security of entrepreneurship. 78% of adults had confidence in their ability to start their own business, compared with 85% in 2019.

The Netherlands

The only European country making the shortlist, The Netherlands comes in fifth place with a score of 5.9 in the world’s best countries to start a business.

While it has always had a strong entrepreneurial spirit, the Netherlands’ economy continued to grow in 2022. The GEM report showed that it was just one of three countries worldwide that scored sufficiently in all areas of the EFC, making it a reliably consistent choice for entrepreneurs looking to relocate.

The pandemic has had negative effects on entrepreneurship in some countries, but for the Netherlands, it has triggered an increase in new business ventures. 1 in 5 adults in the Netherlands now intend to start a new business, compared with just 1 in 8 in pre-COVID-19 years. This may be due to a lack of reliability with standard employment and income tax relief opportunities for new entrepreneurs making it an attractive choice.

Europe has lowest business exit rates

While only one European country made the top 5 list for most entrepreneurial countries, the GEM report also showed that European countries had the lowest business exit rates globally – every country had a business exit rate of less than 6%. Comparatively, the highest rates of business exit were in Latin America and North America, which could indicate that these countries offer a tougher climate for start-ups to thrive.

Methodology: What Makes a Country ‘Entrepreneurial’?

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor analysed each country based on the following Entrepreneurial Framework Conditions (EFC).

  1. The prevalence and accessibility of funds for new startups.
  2. Government policies that promote and support startups.
  3. Fair taxes and bureaucracy for new businesses.
  4. The presence of entrepreneurial ideas and courses in schools and universities introduce entrepreneurial ideas.
  5. Quality commercial, professional and physical infrastructure is available and financially accessible for entrepreneurs.
  6. Free, open and growing markets as well as fewer regulations around entering the country.
  7. An encouraging culture that celebrates entrepreneurship.

Most Popular Age to Start a Business

As well as outlining the best countries for entrepreneurs to thrive in, the GEM report also calls attention to what is called ‘the entrepreneurial age gap’. It transpires that 18–34 are far more active as entrepreneurs compared with older generations between the ages of 35–64.

While older generations often have more skills, experience and wider business networks, they also may have more to lose. They may have well-established careers, families to provide for and mortgages to pay. This could explain why they are statistically less likely to pursue a new business venture.

On the other hand, younger people have comparatively fewer skills, experience and business contacts. What they do offer is an understanding of current trends, and technological advancements and an enthusiasm for the challenge of starting their own business.

For the younger age group, the GEM report showed that there are seven countries where more than a quarter of the population were starting or already running a business. When comparing this with the older generation, there were just four countries where over a quarter of the population were business owners.

Regarding the question of which country is the most entrepreneurial, this age gap “gives a distinct entrepreneurial advantage to societies with younger populations, and an entrepreneurial disadvantage to those with more ageing populations, such as many economies in northern Europe.”

The Entrepreneurial Gender Gap

Another factor that affects entry into entrepreneurial pursuits is gender. The GEM report has a detailed breakdown of what it called the ‘entrepreneurial gender gap’. Male-owned start-ups continue to be more prevalent than women-owned start-ups across most economies, although there were four economies in which more women than men were engaged in new entrepreneurship, Togo, Indonesia, Poland and Qatar. Columbia and Guatemala have the highest overall levels of female entrepreneurship, though still fewer female-owned businesses than male-owned. While Poland, Morocco and Greece have the lowest levels of female entrepreneurship – despite Poland’s rates still exceeding male entrepreneurship.

There is also a higher frequency of male ‘established business’ owners, as opposed to start-ups, which may suggest that female entrepreneurship is a newer development or perhaps that female-owned businesses have a lower chance of survival. This could be for several reasons including lower salaries causing financial constraints for women pursuing entrepreneurship, other conflicting responsibilities such as childcare or a lower level of work experience. Exceptions to this trend are Venezuela, Indonesia, Togo, Israel and Saudi Arabia – where more women than men own established businesses.

Fastest Growing Industries

If you’re at the beginning of your journey towards entrepreneurship, you may still be debating what you’ll do, as much as where you’ll do it. Listed below are the fastest-growing industries, according to Indeed. These industries are ranked highly due to their reliability, longevity, higher salaries and career advancement opportunities.

Information Technology

IT professionals maintain network and internet systems. Computer support specialist jobs, such as help desk positions, are among the fastest-growing roles in this field. IT occupations are due to grow over the next decade, primarily due to the need for technical support services as individuals and organisations upgrade and replace their computer software and equipment.


Construction involves building safely and efficiently, with heavy civil engineering being the fastest-growing sector. The growth is due to community projects and urban development.

Drink Manufacturing

Rather self-explanatory, drink manufacturing refers to the ideation and production of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. This industry accounts for multiple factories distilleries, breweries and wineries for which the demand is continuing to grow.

Personal Services

The personal services industry accounts for a range of services, including wedding planning, pet care, childcare, food delivery and beauty treatments. As people lead increasingly busier lives, they are more likely to outsource these services.

Direct Retail

More and more people are choosing to shop online to have products delivered directly to their door rather than visiting supermarkets, which means the sector that accounts for the sale and delivery of manufactured products such as newspapers, petrol, food and bottled drinks is seeing increasing growth.

Next Steps

Regardless of where you choose to launch your new venture, the fundamentals of starting a business remain relatively consistent. Start by identifying a need or gap in the market. You’ll then want to research your business idea thoroughly to ensure there is demand for your product or service. To ensure your business is financially viable, write a solid business plan. This will help you clarify your business goals and strategies. To get things off the ground, fund smartly. Explore financing options like business loans, crowdfunding, grants and investor capital to fund your startup costs. With these elements in place, you can begin building an online presence. Having a website and leveraging social media is crucial for reaching customers and claiming your business name across platforms.

The business landscape can change quickly. Be prepared to make pivots to your model and offerings based on market and consumer changes. With careful planning, flexibility and adaptation, 2023 can be an excellent year to launch your new venture.

Written by:
Alice is one of Expert Market's resident software experts, helping businesses improve their efficiency or reach, with an emphasis on productivity software, CRM and telecommunications.