A discussion from my Entrepreneurship in the Emerging Market course at Harvard University on identification of Institutional Voids and the opportunities – with Professor Tarun Khanna of Harvard School of Business. 
by: German Oliver Hain

One task for the course is to discuss the topic and make assessment to the situation of my country  — the Philippines.

Institutional voids are the gaps that exist in specific markets that serve as roadblocks to the ideal interactions and transactions of buyers and sellers. 
Institutional voids are a site for entrepreneurial opportunity in emerging economies. Once entrepreneurs have identified a particular institutional void, what can they do to address it?

Institutional voids come in a variety of forms: absent or unreliable sources of information related to the market as a whole, uncertain regulatory or intellectual property regimes, and inefficient judicial apparatus are just some possible examples.  Although institutional voids are palpable impediments to effective transactions and the proliferation of beneficial services (such as reliable healthcare), they are also opportunities for entrepreneurial interventions.

In the Philippines, institutional voids are the unavailability of the convenient competitive resources to general communities despite the access to technology and information. Many have learned through the convenient technology – but unable to apply or execute  for real due to unavailability from the general and more convenient market that could be accessed by the majority of public.

There could be found at some selected marketplace, but inconvenient and in selective access, that usually causes tons of procrastinations, unproductivity and worst is loosing the interest from a great momentum.
This is actually the current case in the Philippines – as still a developing nation (with the very special case of having thousands of islands to be well connected in the market). Online shops are ubiquitous — but the availability for more option is few and as compared to other nation with overflowing of competitive selection. Well, this would be a great opportunity to explore and use entrepreneurship as a bridge to create and deliver solution to this institutional void.

As for the analogs to the emergence of Taobao villages, despite the convenience of technology access (though may not as  in competitive level of services that provide as other progressive community/ nation)  are still a viable and the analogs to Taobao villages is somehow close. But one vital concern for most entrepreneurs are the produce/ product  manufacturing consistency and delivery capability and efficiency. There must be a reliable organization or a trustable public body that would help provide competitive standard consistency, training and support.

 As for the form of local and global entrepreneurship, many from the local villages from the thousands of islands in the country, their locally product handicrafts from the amazing and unimaginable creativity from the resources found in their respective places : handicrafts, furniture, food, accessories and etc.  But I firmly believe and feel that these small entrepreneurs need more competitive digital knowledge empowerment to get onboard on this digital revolution opportunity. If they cannot get a full support from the government to improve  their skills and competitiveness standard — they better take  initiative for themselves through  the convenience of learning technology in the hands.