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People who have an entrepreneurial spirit simply think and act differently. They aspire to rethink traditional business means and models to create unique, enhanced, and futuristic forms of commerce. In this mindset, such individuals tend to employ critical questioning, take calculated risks, and are relentless in executing their creative imaginings.

Which country has the highest percentage of such people? You might be surprised that the United States is not at the top of the list of entrepreneurial countries. In fact, Vietnam, ranks highest among the 45 countries in the Amway Entrepreneurial Spirit Index (AESI). The U.S. ranked 12th, and Japan ranked last.

AESI takes into account three factors in scoring entrepreneurial spirit–the desire to start a business, feelings of readiness to undertake the effort, and the social impact of friends and family in possibly dissuading them from pursuing the venture.

The AESI rankings are just a few of the many eye-opening findings of the 2016 Amway Global Entrepreneurship Report. The annual survey by Amway, one of the world’s leading direct-selling companies, offering high-quality products sold exclusively through Amway Business Owners, is designed to evaluate the differences in entrepreneurial attitudes and potential among the participating countries. Now in its seventh year, the report surveyed nearly 51,000 people across 45 nations. The responses were tabulated across a variety of demographic factors such as age, gender, and education.

Positive attitude

A key finding was that more than three-quarters (77 percent) of the respondents have a positive attitude about entrepreneurship. This percentage slightly exceeds the findings from the 2015 survey (76 percent) and 2014 survey (75 percent), indicating a possible gradual trend upward. The three countries with the most positive attitudes are Norway (96 percent), Vietnam (95 percent), and Denmark (94 percent).

Why might Vietnam top the list of people with the most entrepreneurial spirit? According to Amway’s scientific partner in Vietnam, both Vietnamese men and women have a strong desire to start their own business for reasons of self-fulfillment. Many Vietnamese also are very confident about their ability to acquire customers, which adds to their initiative to strike out on their own.

Despite the difficulties often associated with change, most people actually have a positive attitude about executing new ideas and concepts. Age plays a role in forming such attitudes, with 82 percent of people younger than 35 years sharing this positive outlook, compared to 70 percent of respondents older than 50. Yet another factor involved is level of education. Eighty-four percent of respondents with a university degree have a more positive attitude about entrepreneurship, while only 74 percent of those without a degree were similarly positive. Gender, on the other hand, does not materially factor into this viewpoint, with 78 percent of men and 76 percent of women having a positive attitude.

Entrepreneurial potential

The survey also tallied entrepreneurial potential on a geographic basis across the same demographics. Entrepreneurial potential was measured based on respondents gauging the accuracy of the statement for themselves, “I can imagine starting my own business.”

The countries with the greatest entrepreneurial potential include Colombia (80 percent), Mexico (73 percent), and Thailand (70 percent). Across all countries, the older a person is, the less inclined they are to start a business. Respondents under 35 years of age showed the highest entrepreneurial potential (52 percent); those above the age of 50 the least (33 percent).

Gender also factors into entrepreneurial potential. Across all regions, men (48 percent) are more eager to start a business than women (38 percent), with the widest gender gap reported in North America (56 percent/men versus 39 percent/women). In Vietnam, on the other hand, women are as positive about entrepreneurship as male respondents, 95 percent and 96 percent, respectively.

Among the key findings of the survey is that the economy doesn’t have an impact on entrepreneurial desire. In much of the world, the call to entrepreneurship remains relatively strong, the magnetic pull of self-employment and independence a constant.

Entrepreneurship is on the rise in many regions around the world. Such ambition and innovation offers an optimistic sign for the future of many economies.

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