This Hippo Thinks excerpt, written by Vinnie Lauria with contributions from Hippo academics Sam Sussman and Ho Chi Tim, digs into the historical context behind Singapore’s rising economy. The piece was originally published in Forbes Asia on July 10, 2014 and can be read in its entirety there.

When Dutch economist Dr. Albert Winsemius arrived in Singapore in 1960, tasked by the United Nations with salvaging the struggling island economy, he gloomily remarked upon “this poor little market in a dark corner of Asia.” Over five decades later, Singapore’s market is neither poor nor little—the country sports the world’s seventh largest GDP per capita and more than one in six households have $1M in cash savings. In the past decade alone, the number of Singaporeans running their own business has doubled, giving the city-state the world’s second most entrepreneurs-per-capita, behind only the US.

Yet when I arrived in Singapore in 2010, I didn’t understand how the city-state could be an entrepreneurial hub. My first night on the island, I attended a talk at a local university led by Danny Tan, CEO of HipVan. Danny asked the crowd of business students, “How many of you would like to start your own business?”—and none raised their hand. One young man said he needed to wait until he had “more experience first.” This was counterintuitive to what I’d experienced in Silicon Valley where everyday countless entrepreneurs (many not even college graduates—like Aaron Levie of pursue their dreams.

In the four years since my first visit, there’s now a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in Singapore supported by government financing and grants, community events, and lively co-working spaces, such as The Hub. When I moved here, I wondered: What permitted this island nation to so rapidly become the leading Asian hub for innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship? How could my work here change the minds of young business students like those listening to Danny’s talk that evening years ago?

For the answers to these questions, continue reading here.

Image Credit: Nicolas Lannuzel via flickr