July 12th, 2011, 06:40 AM
This is a new thread I thought of coming up with. Since India's entrepreneurship is booming, it requires a new thread where we can all post news and articles relating to entrepreneurial growth in India.
View Full Version : INDIA—Business & Entrepreneurship
July 12th, 2011, 06:40 AM
This is a new thread I thought of coming up with. Since India's entrepreneurship is booming, it requires a new thread where we can all post news and articles relating to entrepreneurial growth in India.
July 12th, 2011, 06:50 AM
India’s new guard of start-ups
By Bernard Simon
July 11, 2011 10:05 pm
Book buddies: Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal (right) quit Amazon India to start Flipkart.com, their own online bookstore
When Sachin Bansal and his room mate Binny Bansal decided to quit Amazon India in 2007 to start their own “humble online bookstore”, many thought they had lost their wits.
“A lot of people tried to talk us out of what we were doing,” says Binny. “They used to say: why give up a proper job?”
Sachin also recollects friends warning him about the risks of setting up his own business. “We had a job, a good one, but we also had a dream and many people couldn’t get this feeling, this ambition,” he says.
Few believed that the two university friends – who happen to share the same surname – could turn a $10,000 investment into a business generating multimillion-dollar revenues in less than five years. Today, some analysts value their company, Flipkart.com, at about $400m.
The story of Sachin and Binny might be a fairly common one in Silicon Valley, where dropping out of university to set up a company has become the norm. But in India things are different. One reason people were so sceptical was that the two were first-generation entrepreneurs who did not come from a business family background – Sachin’s father was a farmer and Binny’s was a government employee.
“Junior analysts at investment funds found our business interesting but when they pitched our company to their senior partners they would turn us down as they thought that two guys like us couldn’t scale up the business,” says Binny.
Historically, leading entrepreneurs and business executives are children from “business families”. Meanwhile, somebody born in a family of professionals or government employees would end up following their parents’ footsteps as a salaried worker – a throwback to the days when a person’s occupation was tied to caste.
Apart from a few rare rags-to-riches stories – such as that of the late Dhirubhai Ambani who built Reliance Industries, India’s largest listed company, despite being the son of a low-paid teacher in rural India – not many individuals have broken the mould.
Now, a new group of first-generation entrepreneurs such as the Bansals are overcoming social obstacles and taking advantage of the opportunities in the “new India”.
“Initially, we were running the company with just two computers from our room,” says Sachin. “The first order came 10 days after we launched the site. A guy in Andhra Pradesh bought Leaving Microsoft to Change the World by John Wood, who quit his job to set up the charity Room to Read. To us, it all seemed quite ironic as we had quit Amazon to change our lives,” he says, as the two burst into laughter.
“It took us two days to find it,” recalls Binny. “We sold it at a loss to make up for the delay in delivery.”
Setting up the operation from scratch was the hardest task. “At the beginning, it took some time to get [book] distributors and vendors to believe that what we were doing was serious and had potential,” says Sachin.
Flipkart broke even after only six months, allowing the two emerging entrepreneurs to start reinvesting profits into a new office space and employees. “We didn’t take a salary for 18 months and lived off our savings and a little pocket money from our parents, who were very supportive,” says Sachin.
During the first year, the company grew at a phenomenal pace. Sales doubled on a quarterly basis as Flipkart’s innovative cash-on-delivery payment system and growing titles catalogue became the favourite destination for the country’s literati in search of their preferred book.
However, in spite of the stellar early performance, few serious investors approached the Bansals to back their project. “We knew it would have been hard to attract [venture capitalists],” says Binny. “We were just two years out of college with a short working experience. We had to build a customer base to prove that we had something real to offer to potential investors.”
By mid-2009, investors started coming after them and they soon received their first $1m from a VC fund. This was shortly followed by another $10m investment from another US fund.
“From then onwards, the operation skyrocketed,” says Sachin. “We opened multiple offices, hired new engineers and boosted our catalogue.”
This new class of entrepreneurs has emerged over the past decade on the back of India’s unbridled economic ascent, as old barriers and constraining traditions have been overcome by a more risk-prone and self-confident generation. They have a distinct profile: they have a middle-class background; their parents were wage earners; they went to India’s top universities; some also have an MBA or PhD from the US; and they worked for a big company for a few years, before going on to set up their own venture.
Like the Bansals, Samir Patil, a former partner at McKinsey, and Susmita Mohanty, who worked at Nasa and Boeing, are two entrepreneurs who fit this profile. Inspired by Walt Disney and Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organisation behind Sesame Street, Mr Patil launched India’s first child-focused media group in 2007 after he returned from New York, where he lived for several years. Meanwhile, Ms Mohanty returned to India in 2008 to launch Earth2Orbit, the country’s first private sector space company, which consults the government’s space agency and private sector groups to develop space-related business opportunities.
The rise of these new entrepreneurs became possible only after 1991, when on the brink of default India was forced to open its economy, says Ajit Rangnekar, dean of the Indian School of Business. “If you look back pre-1990s ... there were so many hurdles, you needed loads of licences, you had to be close to the government, capital was not easily available ... There were very few non family-run businesses,” says Mr Rangnekar.
The success of India’s IT outsourcing sector also played a big role in instilling a new entrepreneurial culture, says Padmaja Ruparel, president of Indian Angel Network, a community of early-stage seed investors. “Companies such as Infosys [India’s second-largest company], which was set up in the late 1980s by a group of middle-class IT whiz-kids, proved that it was possible for anyone to turn a dream into reality.”
Parminder Gill, a 42-year-old entrepreneur and co-founder of EduSports, which provides physical education programmes to nearly 200 private schools in India, says that the entrepreneurial ecosystem has hugely improved since he set up his first business more than 15 years ago. “The government isn’t in your way all the time, there are more sectors we can invest in, people have money to buy our services thanks to the economic growth we have experienced ... it is a whole different story.”
However, seed funding continues to remain a pressing problem, according to Vinarma Shastri, a partner at the consultancy Grant Thornton. He says that most funds prefer investing in companies with at least a year or two in the business, which means that many start-ups depend on personal or family savings to get things going.
The rise of India’s new generation of entrepreneurs is still under way but what most observers seem to agree on is that the country’s next generation of billionaires will be the likes of Sachin and Binny.
July 21st, 2011, 02:34 AM
Rise of the Dalits: Harsh Bhasker, a rare entrepreneur to have built a knowledge business with Kota Tutorials
Vikas Kumar, ET Bureau Jul 19, 2011, 04.46am IST
About twenty minutes into our conversation, Harsh Bhasker pauses to ask if this story will focus on his being a dalit rather than his success as an entrepreneur. "I am not very comfortable talking about that," he says. Having created one of Agra's most-recognised brands in engineering and medical entrance coaching, and a private college, Bhasker, 35, has come far enough to put caste prejudices behind him and speak about his work.
As he enters his office, parents waiting in the reception area stand up to greet him with folded hands. He is, after all, the face of Kota Tutorials, credited with shaping the careers of many youngsters in his city. He is also the rare dalit who in the knowledge business. "Harsh is among the few who have made it big in a knowledge business," says Delhi-based Dalit activist and writer Chandra Bhan Prasad. "He has done this through his own endeavour and without support from anybody else."
FINDING HIS CENTRE
But Bhasker's isn't a rag-toriches story. Hailing from the Jatav caste, he had the option to join his family's (and caste's) traditional leather shoe-making business. But a rebellious streak led him elsewhere. "I was the stubborn one in the family. I had always set my thoughts high," he says. That focus led him to gain admission at IIT Roorkee (then University of Roorkee) in 1995. "Studying at Roorkee changed my life. I discovered my talents," he says. It was a new world of activities, both on and off the campus, including Himalayan treks, rowing, rafting and parasailing. The shy, smalltown boy transformed into a confident young man.
After completing his engineering in 1999, Bhasker joined HCL in Noida as a software developer. But he found the work too routine and mind-numbing. A year later, he got together seven colleagues to start a software firm out of Katwaria Sarai near the IIT Delhi campus. The company folded up in the wake of the global technology meltdown. Bhasker returned to Agra to start a franchise of Kota-based Career Point in engineering and medical coaching. Those days tutorials were mostly oneperson shows. "I worked hard and established the concept of an organised tutorials business in Agra," he says.
Three years later, he launched his own coaching centre and christened it Kota Tutorials (KT) because "people already knew us as the Kota institute". He started out of a 3-storey building in Agra's commercial district, Sanjay Place. Soon that was falling short as the student numbers swelled. He bought an old shoe factory nearby and restored it. "We didn't have time to raze the old building and build a fresh one," he says. Subsequently, he bought another building behind it. Today, the two structures house 11 airconditioned classrooms with a capacity to teach 2,000 students. There are two hostels nearby to accommodate 250 students, most of whom come from under-privileged backgrounds in rural Uttar Pradesh.
Build a new brand in coaching, however, wasn't easy. It took an aggressive push to uncover demand in UP's hinterland — from conducting seminars in small towns and villages in a 200-km radius to participating in live career-counselling shows on local TV channels.
"I have educated Agra on career options," he says. In a highly crowded coaching market, Bhasker attributes his success to his personalised approach, particularly in the early years. A large number of students came from underprivileged backgrounds, and were not quite focused on their careers. "Many of them don't know how to learn or study efficiently. I took personal interest in students. I often went down to the hostels in the evenings, sat with them and told them to study, helping them out with any problems they faced," he says. "That is why I have earned their respect."
Kota Tutorials is now in 12 cities — including Dehradun, Aligarh and Bhatinda — through franchisees. Bhasker declines to disclose revenues, but it is estimated at Rs 10 crore. Despite annual fees of Rs 50,000 — higher than many competitors – Kota Tutorials has 1,200 students, and growing. Demand evidently outstrips supply in Agra, which has emerged as an important coaching hub after Kota (Rajasthan) and Kanpur (UP). "When I began, the market in Agra for IIT and medical entrance test preparation was 700 students.
Now it is 8,000," says Bhasker. A former student from a nearby town drops in, touches his mentor's feet and requests to get a couple of his cousins enrolled here. Bhasker chats him up, asks him to spread the word about Kota Tutorials, and hands over two handwritten cards that entitle the candidates to a fee discount. Many of the institute's students come from other states like West Bengal, Rajasthan and Punjab after hearing of its track record on getting students into prestigious engineering institutes and its faculty. "The quality of teachers is much better here," says one student.
Last year, Bhasker realised another dream: he opened the Edify Institute of Management and Technology at Farah in Mathura district, using his own money and some borrowed from friends and relatives. "When I completed IIT, my father wanted people to ask what his younger son was doing so he could proudly say, 'he's an engineer'. Now I can see the same happiness on his face. I am the only one from my caste who runs his own college," beams Bhasker. Bring up 'caste' discrimination and Bhasker bristles again.
While there were no big hurdles that came in the way of his success due to this aspect, he cites several small instances where his lineage was hinted at. "When I made a mistake, people often resorted to reminding me of my caste," he says. That has changed considerably now. "My reputation in society has gone up," he says. "It has been one year (since the college opened) and I have given many interviews to newspapers, magazines and TV and radio shows." His workdays, typically, stretch from 9 in the morning to 2 in the night. "I have no timetable — I can work at a stretch for three days," says Bhasker.
"I am obsessed with work." And though he has professionals running the show, he admits to not letting go easily. "When I give work to someone, I'm not satisfied. I think I can do it better myself." This is something he needs to work on, he adds, "I have to change this habit and trust people more." Some things may not change, though. Like the large wallmounted LCD screen that streams live feeds from 16 close circuit cameras — from the reception lobby to office cabins and classrooms.
Even as he chats up visitors across his sprawling desk, he's got a sharp eye on what's going on in the building. "I see motivation and counselling as my main job," says Bhasker. "But I can teach any subject. I can walk into a class and start teaching. In business you have to be hands-on. If there's no teacher, you have to become a teacher. If there's no peon you have to become a peon." In 2007, Bhasker enrolled for IIM Calcutta's distance learning MBA programme for working executives.
More than the virtual classroom sessions, he says it was attending two weeks of classroom study at the Joka campus that helped him the most. "I was thinking I had arrived. But when I did the course, I realised I had just started." With over 250 employees across Kota Tutorials and Edify, Bhasker plans to grow the tutorials business further and promote his new college across India. His franchise manager is a former head of operations at Big Bazaar, UP, who leads 15 marketing executives in expanding the institute's footprint. Students for the college mainly come from states like Assam, Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand.
"These are key markets for college education," he says. "Instead of engineering or MBA courses, I started a polytechnic, and all seats are full." Wife Divya, an MBA, will join him next year. By then Bhasker hopes to move on to his next big idea: an agricultural university for which he's looking for Rs 35 crore funding. He's even eyeing international markets like Malaysia, Dubai and Mauritius (where he vacationed a year ago). "Mauritius has Hindispeaking Indians who want to send their children to IITs. I am thinking of opening a KT coaching centre there."
July 21st, 2011, 11:33 AM
Bhagwan Gawai: From slum boy to millionaire, a true global citizen (http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/et-cetera/bhagwan-gawai-from-slum-boy-to-millionaire-a-true-global-citizen/articleshow/9265497.cms)
MUMBAI: BNP Paribas in Paris , one of the world's largest banking groups, is mindful when it transacts with Bhagwan Gawai, a small customer, but with considerable potential. The bank recently extended a $50 million line of credit to his business group.
Gawai, who as a young lad, worked on construction sites, alongside his illiterate mother and brothers, is now truly a global citizen. As an itinerant businessman, trading in petroleum products, petrochemicals and commodities, his interests straddle the globe. He led an itinerant life earlier too. But back then, he was constrained to do so, as his family moved from one construction site to the other, hauling gravel or laying bricks, raising Mumbai's factories and plush houses.
July 21st, 2011, 11:34 AM
The rise of Dalit enterprise: Pravin Meshram (http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/et-cetera/The-rise-of-Dalit-enterprise-Pravin-Meshram/articleshow/9306082.cms)
For five years, Pravin has been waiting for a final clearance from the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) to build a petrol pump near Amravati Road in Nagpur. The company allotted the pump to Meshram's mother under the scheduled caste quota, and Meshram has bought the land and completed all formalities. "People from upper castes who applied with us are running their outlet," says the 32-year-old.
"Since we are backward class, they don't pay attention to our request." When they had applied, in 2004, Meshram was banking on the pump for sustenance. He had gone through a series of business failures, and the pump held the hope of income stability. Now, more than economic value, its value is symbolic. Between his application and now, Meshram has built a Rs 20 crore business manufacturing electrical transformers, and he doesn't need the pump. "If it comes up, I will be happy for my mother," he says.
July 22nd, 2011, 01:13 PM
The rise of Dalit enterprise: Entrepreneur Sushil Patil (http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/et-cetera/The-rise-of-Dalit-enterprise-Entrepreneur-Sushil-Patil/articleshow/9318611.cms)
When you stay in a 200 sq ft shanty and fail at 20 businesses, there is only one way you can go: up. The transformation for Sushil Patil , 37, has been dramatic. He now lives in a glass-fronted, threestoried, 3,000 sq ft house in the tony Nagpur locality of Manish Nagar; and he owns and runs a Rs 280 crore company that does engineering consultancy and project work.
Till 2003, Patil knew only losses. From poultry to software, broking to services, the civil engineer from Nagpur University dabbled in every conceivable business. And as Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani says, learnt 20 ways of avoiding mistakes. Setbacks were nothing new for Patil. From an early age, he was witness to financial strain and caste prejudice. Like the day his father had to request the engineering college to waive Patil's finalyear fees. "I can never forget my father bowing before the dean. That hit me hard," says Patil. He also recalls the discrimination his father, Ramrao Patil, faced.
Senior Patil was as a labourer in an ordnance factory; and, after office hours, he sold snacks in the office to feed his family of four. Still, he once went 15 years without apromotion. "His colleagues, who were from upper castes, received regular pay hikes and other benefits," he says. This humiliation made Patil resolve to have his own venture. After completing his civil engineering in 1995, Patil worked for several construction firms. "I never wanted to work under anyone, and soon quit," he says. In 1996, Patil borrowed Rs 1 lakh from a friend and started a stock-broking firm.
July 23rd, 2011, 11:29 AM
The rise of Dalit enterprise: Ashok Khade (http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/et-cetera/the-rise-of-dalit-enterprise-ashok-khade/articleshow/9305952.cms)
He speaks animatedly, accentuating his words with hand movements that make his gold and diamond rings sparkle. "My father worked as a cobbler in Mumbai. You can still find the tree he planted and plied his trade under near Chitra Talkies."
For a businessman, Udyog Ratna awardee Ashok Khade has an incredible repertoire of childhood stories to tell. His story is compelling: from extreme poverty to heading one of the most sought-after offshore fabrication companies in Mumbai: DAS Offshore Engineering.
DAS is the biggest employer among dalit-owned companies - with 4,500 employees - and is credited with building Mumbai's first skywalk at Bandra. The company specialises in doing fabrication work on offshore platforms for energy and infrastructure companies.
December 29th, 2011, 03:23 AM
Embracing Social Responsibilities
NEW DELHI: Reliance Industries, India's most valued company, is in "advanced talks" with American defence giant Raytheon to create a joint venture that will pursue opportunities in homeland security in India and abroad.
"RIL and Raytheon are in talks (to set up a joint venture in homeland security business) that are in the late stage," said a person involved in the talks, asking not to be named.
A joint venture with Raytheon - maker of the famous Patriot missiles used in the first Iraq War and a strategic partner of the US government on key homeland security programmes - will give Reliance access to high-end security products and engineering solutions.
"This joint venture will give RIL the ability to innovate and develop key technologies for India," said a Delhi-based analyst who didn't wish to be identified because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
For Raytheon, which is present in the country through partnerships with several companies including the Tata Group, Larsen & Toubro and Bharat Electronics, the proposed venture will mean easier access to one of the fastest-growing markets for homeland security solutions.
The $8-billion Indian homeland security industry is expected to grow to $14 billion in the next three years and to $16 billion by 2016. Defence analysts say that such a joint venture could help end the so-called "India fatigue" that has set in among American companies after failing to make it to the shortlist of the country's biggest military contract, worth 42,000 crore, to acquire 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft for the Indian Air Force.
Responding to an email query from ET, a Raytheon spokesperson said, "We do not comment on rumour or speculation."
As of now, it has a joint venture with only one firm - France's Thales.
Reliance Industries' homeland security and aerospace division head Vivek Lall too did not respond to repeated e-mails about talks with Raytheon.
The Mukesh Ambani-owned company is also in talks with German firm Siemens AG to form a joint venture in homeland security, the person involved in the talks said. A few months ago, RIL had tied up with Siemens to jointly bid for security projects.
The two companies jointly bid for a 600-crore Mumbai CCTV project, which was conceived after the 26/11 attack and envisages setting up computerised video surveillance at 100 critical traffic junctions in the metropolis. The Maharashtra government has shortlisted the combine for the project.
Indian companies such as Tata Group, Larsen & Toubro and Mahindra Group have already tied up with foreign players in the homeland security space.
Mahindra Defence Systems has a joint-venture partnership with US-based Telephonics Corporation to make radars and surveillance and communication systems for the Indian military, while Tata Advanced Systems has a venture with Zurich-based AGT International to tap opportunities in the homeland security market. RIL set up its homeland security and aerospace division early this year after roping in Lall, 42, a former NASA scientist who steered Boeing's military and commercial division in India for years.
Lall worked with Raytheon in the 1990s and was part of the engineering team that developed its aircraft for the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS), an ambitious aircraft procurement programme in the US in 1995.
Ever since the Indian Parliament was attacked in 2001, security experts have called for enlisting the private sector to step up security across the country, especially in cities.
Currently, one of the best "safe-city" communications systems in the country is in Parliament. Installed by Cassidian, the security division of the Netherlands-based EADS, the Tetra radio network doesn't get jammed even in disaster situations.
December 29th, 2011, 03:25 AM
Entrepreneurs get help from alma mater
Ajay Vishnu, a chemical engineer from IIT Bombay, felt his entrepreneurial dreams were being shattered when he saw his venture not gaining scale. After spending two years of his time on the venture, Vishnu was back in the job market. However, his apprehensions of getting a job were removed when his alma mater, IIT Bombay, came up with the deferred placement programme, especially for entrepreneurs like Vishnu.
The deferred placement programme by IIT Bombay that starts in 2012 is targeted at students, who have set up their own ventures but have failed, even after two years of passing out from the institute. This is a new feature for management institutions which have been trying hard to promote students with entrepreneurial intentions by proving infrastructure, funds and even roping in companies as well to help students with their entrepreneurial ventures.
" Very few students currently pursue entrepreneurial activities due to the uncertainties involved. Even if they have good ideas, they are aware of the high failure rate – a serious deterrent. We felt that deferred placement may allow some of these students to pursue such activities, which can in the end provide opportunity for them to achieve their true potential,” said Ravi Sinha, professor-in-charge, placements, IIT Bombay. The institute is also planning to set up a mentoring group for students who plan to start their own businesses.
There are several other strategies being used by other institutes like Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) and Indian School of Business (ISB) to promote such ventures.
Some like TISS has are working towards a system where companies will fund the start-ups. “Earlier, the incubation process was informal but impactful. This year we are working towards making it formal. We have also approached some funding agencies to look into our programme for supporting our graduates with seed fund and fellowship. As part of the programme, students are engaged in pilot run of their ventures during summer internship, and the institute provides them with funds,” he says.
In fact, they have discontinued the placement process for the Masters Programme on Social Entrepreneurship.
“Earlier, students used to arrange for some companies to come to the campus and conduct interviews. This has now been stopped as we wanted our students to take entrepreneurship more seriously,” said Satyajit Majumdar, professor, Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, TISS.
IIM-A has roped in Tata Communications for its flagship programme iAccelerator. The three-month programme run by the Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) since 2009, provides entrepreneurs in ICT segment access to mentorship, infrastructure and investment support to kick start businesses.
Speaking about the tie-up with Tata Communication, Pranay Gupta, joint CEO, Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), adds, “Any start-up always needs additional help, including funds and infrastructure. Tata Communications, apart from providing infrastructure support, will also sponsor the running of their programme.”
The Indian School of Business (ISB) has planned Propero 2012 , an initiative aimed at helping start-up and growth stage entrepreneurs all over India to raise equity or debt financing. The event, scheduled for February next year at the ISB campus, will provide venture capitalists, angel investors and bankers, access business plans from various sectors.
In its inaugural edition last year, 30 venture capitalists such as Indian Angels Network, Mumbai Angels, Helion Ventures, Canaan Partners, Venture East, SIDBI Ventures and others had participated.
This year, apart from the 30 plus angels and venture capitalists, State bank of India, Bank of Baroda and Andhra Bank have confirmed their participation.
Krishna Tanaku, executive director, Wadhawani Centre for Entrepreneurship Development (WCED), ISB, explains, “Each venture would require a funding of Rs 1-5 crore. We have received over 180 ventures that are seeking funding. Out of this about 50 will be shortlisted for presentation to about 40 investors and bankers.”
“We are also talking to multinational corporations to help the entrepreneurs market their products. We already have a partnership with MIT to promote research based solutions to entrepreneurs. Now, we are looking at help from the government to create a network of incubation centres,” adds Tanaku.
December 29th, 2011, 03:29 AM
Small and medium businesses will get people to create jobs
In January, India will host members of the Group of Twenty (G-20) nations at an interim meeting of the Young Entrepreneurs Alliance. The two-year-old initiative, aimed at discussing issues concerning start-ups, helps make policy recommendations to develop a conducive environment for entrepreneurship.
India will be represented at the summit by the Young Indians forum, initiated by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Rahul Mirchandani, an executive director at Aries Agro Ltd and chairman of international relations and partnerships at CII, speaks in an interview on what it will take to boost entrepreneurship. Edited excerpts:
In today’s world, how important is it to promote entrepreneurship?
We believe that it is the small and medium businesses that will get people to create jobs. The reason why this is so important is that in this kind of environment, small businesses thrive better.
It’s been often said that there is no recession in rural India because people there have not heard about it. Similarly, the small businesses are the ones that survive no matter what the environment is. Larger businesses have a connect with other ecosystems and, therefore, get affected.
India has featured very prominently in talking to G-20 countries on how price performance equations have been changed. We have many entrepreneurs who have put together a product which is (at a) much lower price point compared globally, but has world-class quality.
What are the India-specific challenges when it comes to entrepreneurship?
There are a couple of areas where India definitely needs support. One is having an environment that promotes entrepreneurship. We are a country of a billion entrepreneurs. But slowly the new generation is looking at getting jobs which are less risky. On the other hand, we have a society where most people are entrepreneurial in the hinterland. So we are living in this dichotomy. We need to have a culture development around entrepreneurship right from the school level. I think that’s where it all starts. The first challenge is that how can we as a government, as a set of entrepreneurs, promote innovation? So it has to start at the education level. Second is access to finance—a lot of it is available in terms of schemes from the government. However, entrepreneurs don’t know that such schemes are there, so there is an information gap.
How is the government responsible for this gap?
The government has put the information on the table, but the banks don’t promote it. For instance, you have a bank which has funding, which it is supposed to give under the credit guarantee scheme, but they don’t promote it because it’s risk capital. In fact, if you look at Mumbai, the risk rates for small and medium enterprises are much lower than larger businesses. The kind of defaults that take place on loans in Dharavi are much lower than at Nariman Point. Similarly in the rural areas. There is a lot of societal pressure to ensure that you don’t default on your loans. What needs to be done is not necessarily subsidies. One of the things which we have been proposing is that like you have agricultural funding—a minimum ratio of your bank’s funding that goes to agriculture—can you not have a section of that earmarked for start-ups? Can the funding to start-ups be priority sector lending for banks and be provided at a rate which is a few percentage points lower than the usual lending rates?
What is the agenda for the India summit?
The young entrepreneurs summit happens parallelly to the G-20 meeting so that we have access to world leaders. So we go with a set of policy recommendations and not just problems. Also, India has not bid for hosting a G-20 summit, which means that we can’t host the young entrepreneurs summit as well. So the best thing was to get an interim meeting here, which is also a very-high-level interface. The G-20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance was started two years ago in Toronto. So this group of 20 countries decided to have a common voice, decided that let’s talk to our companies and figure out how can we create a good entrepreneurship ecosystem.
G-20 for India is extremely vital because G-20 is a group of the world’s most powerful countries. We are looked at in this group as a country where growth is a reality whereas most other nations in the group are struggling. So India has become a very crucial selling point for this summit, showing how growth is possible even in this era of uncertainty. As entrepreneurs, whether we are in the UK, Australia or India, we are facing the same set of issues—be it regulation or taxation, access to finance or having an educational foundation. It’s the same issues and we all want the same solutions.
August 16th, 2012, 12:39 PM
August 17th, 2012, 02:33 PM
India's business climate improving: Report (http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-08-16/news/33233094_1_continuous-y-o-y-growth-points-capital-market-components-blufin-business-cycle-indicator)
NEW DELHI: The country's business climate seems to be improving as latest trends especially in demand for cement and aluminium indicate early signs of revival, says a report.
The BluFin Business Cycle Indicator (BCI)--that reflects various macroeconomic trends on a monthly basis-- rose to 157.3 in August, slightly higher than 156.8 recorded in July. This is also the first monthly increase since March 2012.
"While most of the BCI components still remain significantly weak, improvements seen in some of components could be pointing towards early signs of moderation in the intensity of the slowdown.
"A bottoming out by end of this year cannot be completely ruled out," financial information provider BluFin said today.
The latest BCI -- designed to ascertain turns in the business cycle -- readings come at a time when the Indian economy is slowing down amid a host of issues, including global uncertainties and high inflation.
Though growth rates are very low, a moderate monthly improvement and a continuous y-o-y growth points out to an early evidence of the business cycle to be healing, BluFin said in a statement.
The index takes into account five broad areas -- capital markets, foreign trade, policy, real economy and survey.
Going by August readings, there have been early signs of improvement in demand and supply parameters of real economy components such as some key intermediate goods like aluminium, rubber and cement, BluFin said.
Sam Thomas, BluFin Director of Research and Development, said the results in August are encouraging.
"We are seeing cyclical dynamics suggesting that economy is continuing to heal and we are encouraged to note healing process has been in place for three straight months now. We hope this would continue in months to follow," he noted.
However, "we are concerned over failure of monsoons and its potential spill over effects on food inflation," he added.
According to BluFin, country's trade deficit has shown some year-on-year improvement, recently.
On the other hand, the capital market components of BCI continue to be weak with equity markets still in the red and high gold prices internationally.
Within the external sector, import traffic has been on the decline, especially that of iron ore, the statement said.
On the fiscal policy front, non plan expenditure consolidation has been in place for some time now and revenue earnings are growing at a steady rate. This would help in better management of the gaping fiscal deficit.
BluFin said that backed by appropriate fiscal policy actions, there is a good probability of the economic growth to accelerate by early next year.
August 17th, 2012, 07:24 PM
Dell takes swipe at Indian way of doing business (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/17/uk-dell-india-business-idUSLNE87G00V20120817)
A combination of power blackouts, uncertain tax rules and contracts that are not honoured make India a difficult place to do business, a senior Dell Inc executive said on Friday in unusually blunt comments by a foreign investor.
India's economy is growing at its slowest pace in nearly a decade, with stubborn inflationary pressures and high interest rates.
But what global firms often find hardest is the red tape and the policy paralysis that has stalled major reforms.
"Doing business in India is difficult because the problem is there are too many decision makers," Amit Midha, president of Asia Pacific and Japan for Dell (DELL.O), told Reuters in an interview.
"And decision makers change quite often. New decision makers come and they don't honour the contract previously signed."
Irked by a lack of opportunities, Germany's Fraport (FRAG.DE) - the world's second-biggest airport operator - recently decided to shut its development office in India, becoming the latest in a growing list of companies exiting Asia's third-largest economy.
"When a company is trying to leave India and that company is well respected, then clearly it suggests that there is something, this place is not easy to work," Midha said.
UNCERTAIN TAXES, TOUGH GESTATION
A lack of clarity in recent proposals aimed at targeting tax evasion, including retrospective taxation on foreign corporate deals involving Indian assets, panicked foreign investors. Those rules have now been put on hold.
"Policies like retroactive taxes...are a huge risk for us to make an investment. We just do not know how to assess our results and how to report our results globally," said Shanghai-based Midha during a visit to New Delhi.
"That sort of a set-up doesn't work for any global company for that matter."
Dell has operations in eight cities in India, where it has had a presence since 1996.
With 27,000 employees, India is Dell's biggest employee base outside the United States.
Chief Executive Officer Michael Dell told Reuters in July that Dell is bullish on India, along with China and Brazil.
Dell's experience in India has helped it deal better with the complications of doing business in a high-growth, but poor-infrastructure market, Midha said.
"From our experience, we tell people, in India, the initial gestation period can be hard, but once it's over, it can be a lot smoother," said Midha, who is also the chairman of Global Emerging Markets for Dell.
"If you don't have the resources, don't get into it. Because you need to make sure you have some staying power to go through the initial gestation period."
Midha said Dell had no plans to leave India and is now familiar with how to "navigate" in the country.
"There is a lot of progress made here in terms of infrastructure, but things like blackouts and other things doesn't give India a good position in the global stage," he said.
Hundreds of millions of Indians were left without power earlier this month in one of the world's worst blackouts when electricity grids collapsed two days in a row.
"I think the government is committed to promote investments in India, I see lots of signs of that," Midha said. "But, that said, proof is in the pudding."
August 17th, 2012, 07:26 PM
Birla skeptical about International Financial Reporting Standards (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/Birla-skeptical-about-International-Financial-Reporting-Standards/articleshow/15532448.cms)
BHUBANESWAR: Corporate czar and chairman of Aditya Birla Group Kumar Mangalam Birla is skeptical about the benefits of the proposed International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), a set of global accounting norms to be implemented in India from next fiscal. While the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) contends that the existing Indian Accounting Standards must converge with the IFRS to increase the credibility of Indian companies globally, Birla said it might create confusion. "There should be more clarity in tax-related issues in IFRS to help our financial analysts understand the norms. It might create confusion.
The government needs to be cautious before implementing it in the country," Birla said on the sideline of a conference of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) in Bhubaneswar on Friday. According to an earlier roadmap laid by the MCA, companies with a net worth of over Rs 1,000 crore were to converge their financial statements as per IFRS from April 1, 2011. But the move hit roadblock in view of opposition by some corporate honchos, sources said.
Corporate affairs minister Veerappa Moily, earlier this month, asserted that IFRS would be implemented from April 1, 2013 to ensure that corporate biggies keep pace with the changing times and global trends. Chartered accountants opined that the companies having high levels of international activities would be benefited from a switch to IFRS from the existing accounting standards. "Currently companies in India and abroad abide by their respective sets of financial standards.
Often it becomes difficult for foreign companies to understand the Indian financial standards and vice-versa. A uniform financial standard like IFRS would bring in more transparency and clarity," said a chartered accountant S B Mohapatra. "A number of multi-national companies are establishing their businesses in various countries with emerging economies. The globalisation of the business world and the attendant structures and the regulations, which support it, as well as the development of e-commerce make it imperative to have a single globally accepted financial reporting system," Mohapatra said.
At present the financial statements are prepared in sync with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in India. It also complies with the provisions of the Companies Act, 1956 and the Accounting Standards as specified in the Companies (Accounting Standards) Rules, 2006.
August 20th, 2012, 11:53 AM
Reliance Capital to expand Nippon Life partnership (http://business-standard.com/india/news/reliance-capital-to-expand-nippon-life-partnership/183388/on)
After bringing in Nippon Life as strategic partner in its life insurance and asset management businesses, Reliance Capital is now looking to expand further this partnership and would help the Japanese financial services giant bring part of its $600 billion assets under management to India.
Reliance Capital (R-Cap), the financial services arm of Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group, last week completed its 26 per cent stake sale in its mutual fund and asset management unit RCAM (Reliance Capital Asset Management Company) for Rs 1,450 crore to Nippon Life.
Previously R-Cap has sold a 26 per cent stake in its life insurance venture Reliance Life for Rs 3,062 crore to Nippon Life.
With the completion of both the deals, which figure among India's biggest ever FDIs (Foreign Direct Investments) in their respective sectors, R-Cap CEO Sam Ghosh told PTI that the company would look at further expanding its partnership with Nippon Life.
"Nippon Life have $600 billion (Rs 30 lakh crore) of assets, but a very small part of that is currently invested in India. There are two-three areas where Reliance Capital could look at working together with the Japanese financial services giant," Ghosh said in a telephonic interview.
Reliance Capital would look at getting get part of Nippon's AUM (Asset Under Management) to India, he said, while adding that the Japanese behemoth has minimal investments here despite having more than $600 billion AUM globally.
He said that R-Cap would work to grow its Nippon's investments portfolio in India and help Nippon make and manage sizeable and meaningful investments in India in near term.
Ghosh asserted that Nippon Life has demonstrated strong confidence in India, and Reliance Group, by investing over Rs 4,500 crore in a short span of 12 months and R-Cap now looking forward to strengthening this partnership further.
Listing out the areas where the two groups can work together, Ghosh said: "We can manage part of their funds for investment in India and then we can help bring some of Nippon Life's assets as investments in India."
"Since they are a partner now, the focus will be to get a sizeable part of their assets to India. We will assist in their portfolio investment in India."
Ghosh said that Nippon Life's move to invest Rs 4,500 crore as FDI in two of Reliance Capital's businesses (life insurance and asset management) shows their commitment to India, especially at a time when there is a perception about the sentiments being very conducive for foreign investments.
"Nippon Life has shown that they see a very good potential in India," he said.