Entrepreneurs in Bengal from the manufacturing to the services industry have shunned any perception problem around doing business in the state.
At a session of Infocom 2023, the flagship event of the ABP Group, business leaders from the state, both established and upcoming, highlighted the growth prospects in Bengal and India over the coming years.
“It is not true that people from Bengal cannot do business. There have been historical factors which were temporary because of which it was challenging in the past,” said Rudra Chatterjee, MD Luxmi group.
“India will be the fastest growing country in the next few decades. The eastern region with a lower base will grow faster than the rest of the country. The speed at which Bengal, Assam and some of the northeastern states are growing is actually faster than the national average,” he said.
Speaking at the session titled, ‘Bengal & Business: Opportunities & Challenges’ which was moderated by Sucharita Basu, managing partner Aquilaw and chairperson, CII West Bengal State Council, Chatterjee also said that the way to reach markets has changed through technology and businesses have to re-imagine and re-purpose, to meet the requirements of time. Besides talent and creativity, confidence is also required, he said.
Basu set the tone of the hour-long engaging discussion by sharing her own experience. “For me and my law firm, Bengal has offered the best platform and the fact that we have been able to grow as much as we could, has been possible because of a robust commercial backdrop in the state. Most of my clients, who are well-established business houses in Bengal, are exemplarily satisfied with the state when it comes to doing business,” Basu gushed.
Next-generation entrepreneur Prithish Chowdhary, who had joined the family business built by his father Umesh Chowdhary and grandfather J.P. Chowdhary, said that lack of opportunities in the past could have prompted skilled individuals to seek jobs in other states in the past. But the trend is changing.
“Having lived abroad and coming back to India and experiencing the pace here, I can wholeheartedly say there is no place better than India in the world right now to grow and Bengal is always home,” said Chowdhary, director of marketing & business development, Titagarh Rail Systems Limited.
“We are in the process of building a design engineering centre here and we find there are so many skilled engineers who are all Bengalis. People have gone out (in the past) because they felt that there was no opportunity here and as soon as they see some opportunity where they can genuinely add value to their hometown, there is nothing better than to come back. That opportunity is being created not just by us but by thousands of other companies like us who are innovating everyday,” Chowdhary said.
Sagar Daryani, CEO Wow! Momo, said that he has faced the question from investors as to why the company is not shifting its headquarters from Bengal to Bangalore, Delhi or Mumbai.
“We are a people’s business and the people of Bengal have been our biggest strength. I can proudly say that we have seen the most hardworking human resource here in Bengal,” said Daryani, whose company is operating in 32 cities with 670 plus stores and more than 6,000 employees.
“I personally feel that if we are looking to build a business, it can be built anywhere. If you build a good product and there is an audience for that product, you are definitely going to thrive,” he said, adding that the investor perception about start-ups from Bengal is gradually changing.
“The last biggest blockbuster IPO in the consumer space was Manyavar, which is a brand from Bengal,” he said.
Prashant Sharma, MD of Charnock Hospital and SKM Group, said that in the healthcare sector, Bengal and Calcutta is not just serving its own requirement, but also that of neighbouring states and countries and if businesses can shun any preconceived perception then there is a huge market for the industry to tap into. “There is a patient base and there is a doctor base. What is lacking today is infrastructure,” he said.
“We are much discounted in terms of our perception compared to our capabilities. If the infrastructure is created and with insurance and other supporting socio-economic factors, it is a huge market,” Sharma added.