Have you ever had a bad day that was completely turned around because you were surrounding by a happy group of friends or co-workers? I know I have, and chances are you’ve experienced something similar as well. That’s because happiness is contagious, and surrounding yourself with happy friends and co-workers can certainly make a positive impact on your life.
The best part is that happiness has a real world translation when it comes to the business world as well. A happier and more optimistic society has a better chance of success and growth than an unhappy society.
Just yesterday, I examined the world’s 10 most pessimistic countries according to a recent poll by Gallup, and we learned that many are from debt-riddled Europe. With little prospect of a rebound anytime soon and high unemployment rates, there’s not many reasons to be optimistic. However, there are two sides to this coin.
The happy truth
Other regions of the world are on the cusp of a huge growth spurt, and many citizens of those countries feel quite confident that they’ll be better off five years from now. Like the survey we looked at last night, Gallup based its findings on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale that ranks respondents views of the present and five years into the future with a rating scale of 0 to 10 (10 being the most optimistic rating). Yet again, the findings weren’t a huge surprise, but they do lend credence on a few ways that you could use this optimism to your advantage in the investing world.
Here are the 10 most optimistic countries, according to Gallup:
There’s no need to break out the Magic 8-Ball here to see that Africa is a big point of optimism over the next five years. I have three contentions as to why optimism in this region remains so high.
For starters, some African nations don’t have anywhere to go but up. Burkina Faso, for example, is among the poorest nations in the world on a per-capita GDP basis. However, from 2004 through 2012, its GDP has grown by nearly 145%. Although it represents just a minuscule amount of worldwide GDP, this can represent a huge jump in employment and quality of life for residents of Burkina Faso.
The second contention for optimism in this region relates to the largely untapped mineral resources of Africa. One source of potential growth is oil, which can be quite abundant in the some of the aforementioned countries. Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX), for instance, undertook two projects in Chad beginning in 2000: the development of the Doba crude oil fields, and the building and operation of a system of pipelines capable of delivering that oil to a transport terminal in Cameroon. Robust oil prices can certainly pack a punch for African economies, and it certainly has helped attract big business partners such as Chevron.
The third reason I see optimism growing is that multinational corporations are turning to Africa for its rapid growth potential. Even excluding oil and mining, which are two big reasons multinationals invest in Africa, other sectors of the African economy are ripe to take off. Perhaps no sector exhibits such promise as financial services. Credit payment facilitator MasterCard Inc (NYSE:MA) is counting on Africa to drive its bottom-line growth for decades to come. It has spearheaded a 13 million-card rollout in Nigeria of National Identity Smart Cards and is working on getting some 68% of unbanked South African citizens into the world of plastic.