Few Americans would pick Amman, Jordan — a city of about 2 million in the heart of the war-torn Middle East — as a vibrant place for entrepreneurs and the venture capitalists who back them.
But there Amman is, ranked as the 10th-best city in the world to launch a tech startup, according to a 2012 list compiled by Rachid Sefrioui, the founder of Finaventures, a California-based venture-capital firm.
Not surprisingly, Sefrioui’s list is topped by Palo Alto, California; Los Angeles, Boston, London and New York. These cities have long been hotbeds of venture capitalists and the high-tech entrepreneurs who seek them out, and with good reason.
There are billions of dollars in equity capital to be invested. There is an advanced physical and intellectual infrastructure devoted to matching venture capitalists with entrepreneurs. And there is a 30-year-plus record of success — and failure — from which investors can learn the winning combination of a great idea, a receptive marketplace and a gifted management team.
Amman has very few, if any, of these advantages. Jordan is surrounded by strife, has few natural resources — it has no proven oil reserves and is the fourth-driest country on Earth — and is among the world’s top recipients of U.S. aid on a per- capita basis. The official unemployment rate is 13 percent but few believe it; the conventional wisdom is that half the population is either unemployed or underemployed.