Business in Africa needs participatory approach, avers advisory firm

New Delhi, May 1 (IANS) Indian enterprises need to follow a participatory approach to develop their businesses in Africa otherwise they would lose out to others from countries like Brazil and Turkey, which are increasingly active now in the continent, says Abhilash Puljal, of the trade and investment advisory firm Avignam.

“We (in India) need to think differently when we look at Africa. If we don’t take Africans along, work with them with a developmental perspective, it is difficult to succeed,” Puljal, who is managing director of Avignam, told IANS.

He said Africa is keen to collaborate with foreigners, who work in a participatory mode, in a way that helps develop their skills and capacity.

Avignam is working with the vision of developing the private sector in the emerging economies with a South-South agenda. A London School of Economics alumnus, Puljal has a Rwandan partner with an office in the capital Kigali.

Pujal said there are three key requirements of developing economies, including in Africa — technology, building capacity and capital. Avignam advises companies in bringing these from middle-income economies to low income economies.

“India has all three. Technologies are available in India, which can be taken to Africa through an Indian investor.”

“African SMEs many times prefer Indian products and machinery compared to products from other parts of the world, and have an image of better quality and longevity. Also, they find Indian engineering simple and easier from a maintenance point of view,” said Puljal.

According to him, there is a renewed surge of interest among Indian small and medium enterprises towards Africa as an investment destination, but facilitation is required to convert this interest into concrete investments.

“The main hurdle for Indian SMEs is access to finance for implementing projects in Africa. They have the requisite technical expertise and the risk appetite to invest in Africa, but they do not have adequate funds.”

Puljal said that in his interactions with Indian government officials he has suggested bank funding for Indian SME projects in Africa.

Also, having an African SME Conclave in India would help in better understanding the opportunities and challenges in this regard.

(Biswajit Choudhury can be contacted at [email protected])

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