America calling

Updated: February 3, 2015 1:41:48 PM

US SMEs are looking to partner small enterprises in India

India is back on the American investment map and small and medium-sized businesses in the US are keen to explore partnership with Indian SMEs in various fields. The growing partnership segments are services, manufacturing, hospitality & tourism, human resource & skill development, defence, aviation and IT & cyber security, according to Asoke K Laha, national president, Indo-American Chamber of Commerce.(IACC).

IACC, which has an SME membership of 2,100 from India and the US, provides a platform for entrepreneurs from both sides to engage.

Laha said the rapport developed between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has enthused US businesses, and IACC’s annual Indo-US summit in New Delhi last October was its largest event. “More than 200 delegates from the US participated in it.” Obama’s India visit this month is expected to bolster the sentiments.

IACC, which has MoUs with many US chambers, will be taking an SME delegation to the US this year. IACC has an Indo-US SME Forum to foster collaborations, share best practices, and link SMEs to global supply chains.

Laha, who is a US citizen, said though US companies have been looking at India as an alternative to China, events in the previous two years had left an impression among US investors that India was an uncertain and difficult place to do business. “The perception was that nothing is happening in India.” With the Modi government in place, that perception has changed, and, “India is now an attractive place for US companies.”

“The biggest concern of an investor,” Laha says, “is ‘will I get my money back?’ So political stability is very important.”

He is appreciative of the government efforts to improve India’s score in ease of doing business. “ In fact, India always had that attraction, because of its English-speaking people, demographic dividend and domestic demand. But the only problem was in doing business.”

He says chambers like IACC are important for small players. “It is the small companies, more than big ones, that need our services, since they do not have the resources or knowhow to reach out to potential partners.”

He said his Silicon Valley-based SME, Interra Information Technology (InterraIT), renders IT services to clients in the US, UK, Canada and Japan from its Noida SEZ office. Laha, a technocrat with stints at US IT majors GTE, DEC and Cadence and a BE from from Jadavpur University and an ME from University of Saskatchewan, Canada, has a word of advice for SMEs looking to do business with US firms. “Three things count in the US–quality, agility and milestones. Milestones are sacrosanct. You have to deliver anything that you have promised.”

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