News and Events

(82) Paul Ballard on Capitalizing on Convergence

22 March 2016 – Mr. Paul Ballard, Founding Partner of WAVE (Wei Lai Advisors, Ventures, Enterprises), visited AIM for a Development@Work talk entitled “Capitalizing on Convergence: How Emerging Markets’ Businesses and Governments can Succeed and Manage Risks in Today’s Global Market”. The talk was about the disruptive changes that have occurred in world markets in the past decade, and how the global financial crash in 2008 – 2009 transformed the context for businesses in emerging markets.


Why Convergence?

The world is currently looking at a massive increase in demand and market size in Asia. After 2 centuries of advanced economies plowing ahead, we are now seeing convergence between them and emerging markets. In the next 30-40 years, Mr. Ballard shared, major world emerging markets such as China and India will be joining the world’s high income countries.

One effect of this convergence is the shift of focus of aid. 60% development assistance used to be funded by official development assistance flow but in the present time, that 60% now come from private financial flows to developing countries.

Another effect is that self-contained projects have shifted instead to strengthening institutions and building capacity. From the focus on putting supplies in place, more importance is placed on ways of supporting demand-side solutions.

Privatization has developed from simply being a transfer of assets, into creating an efficient market wherein public and private sectors both play active roles in the market. The improvement of public goods paves the way for better participation in terms of demand and supply.

The result of convergence has been a massive increase in output and growth of emerging markets, but despite these major successes, slow growth has been observed in advanced markets. Given the current convergence, this may hold back growth for emerging markets.


Opportunities and Risks

In this time of convergence, Mr. Ballard sees opportunity in digitization, manufacturing, medical tourism and distance health services, specialized technical skills such as animation, the automobile industry, among others. Recognizing these opportunities, he also asks that as incomes increase, businesses and institutions must figure out what they have to do to go beyond transactional and reach the point of more complex systems. He asks, “What do you do to improve skills for better products?”

As for risks, he lists inadequate investment in education first, mentioning the threat of “brain drain”. There’s also the problem of dominance of large companies, which crowd out the smaller firms. Weak infrastructure and rule of law also both get in the way of facilitating growth.

Mr. Ballard continues to say that there is a need to focus on sustaining investment in public goods. Public goods, he defines, are goods which cannot be provided by private investors because there won’t be much of a return. Governments need to play a role, either as a provider or as a source of a framework which takes private sector roles in consideration.

Strategic Approaches

Mr. Ballard leads into possible strategies when it comes to playing the convergence game.

He mentions moving into a sustainable, capacity-building system, as well as creating a multi-tasking problem solver. He emphasizes the importance of disruptive innovation, which creates new ways of doing businesses and acts as prevention against brain drain. There’s also the use of accreditation systems to set skill standards, as well as private-public partnerships.

“In many ways, emerging and advanced markets are more interconnected than before,” Mr. Ballad says. “World context is difficult.”

Given that we are moving into an era of slow growth, he concludes that internal growth alone is not the only thing needed in the context of convergence. How each individual market relates to the rest of the world is important.

Photo taken by Mr. Gio Candelaria.                           

About the Speaker

Paul Ballard is Founding Partner of WAVE - Wei Lai Advisors, Ventures, Enterprises. WAVE is a boutique venture capital advisory group, based in Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.A. WAVE’s business focus is on assisting small, start-up and first generation high-tech entrepreneurs and businesses by providing advice on business strategy and project execution, project management, and project financing on a hands-on basis.

Mr. Ballard formed WAVE after a long career as an executive and senior professional in investment finance and economics at the World Bank Group. Prior to joining the World Bank Group, Paul worked in private business: in market research; in tourism and travel services; and in public service delivery evaluation.

He holds B.A. (Hons) and M.A. (Hons) degrees from Oxford University, U.K. - where he attended St. Catherine’s College. He studied at Columbia University, New York, where he earned an M.Phil. and undertook doctoral studies in politics and economics of development.


About the Development@Work Seminar Series

The AIM Zuellig Graduate School of Development Management hosts numerous talks and public lectures on different aspects of development management. These seminars and lectures are free and open to the public, unless stated otherwise. For information on future seminars, visit the News and Events section of this website or like us on Facebook (



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