Lee Min Hwa

Founder -- Korea Venture Business Assn. -- South Korea

For decades, South Korea's large family-run conglomerates, or chaebol, have been the mainstays of the economy. But suddenly in the last couple of years, high-tech companies have burst onto the scene thanks to visionaries such as Lee Min Hwa. The workaholic Lee, 47, practically engineered Korea's venture business boom, pressing Seoul to enact a raft of new laws to support fledgling high-tech startups and allow venture-capital firms to flourish. As a result of Lee's efforts, Korea now has more than 7,000 such companies, the highest number in the world outside the U.S., compared with a mere 250 before Lee started the Korea Venture Business Assn. (KOVA) in 1995.

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