Local Innovation, Openness and Global Ambitions Will Power India’s Take-Off

07 Oct 2016

Yann Zopf, Head of Media Operations, Public Engagement: Tel.: +41 79 204 1610, Email: yann.zopf@weforum.org

· By taking advantage of their local market know-how, Indian entrepreneurs can compete with big foreign players armed with lots of cash

· The Indian government should create the right ecosystem for entrepreneurship and resist protectionism

· For more information, please visit http://wef.ch/ies16

New Delhi, India, 7 October 2016 Indian entrepreneurs should not be daunted by competition from big cash-rich multinationals but should focus on innovating for the domestic market and then taking their products and services global, the Co-Chairs of the India Economic Summit told participants in the meeting’s closing session.

“The opportunity for Indian entrepreneurs is to build a global company out of India and not to give the market to a global company,” stressed Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Indian e-commerce company Paytm. It is not just a matter of capital. “If money is your answer to your problem, you have not yet found the answer to your problem.”

“We need to allow Indian entrepreneurship to grow,” advised Amitabh Kant, Chief Executive Officer of NITI Aayog, or the National Institution for Transforming India, a government policy think-tank. “We need young entrepreneurs to take on the Amazons of the world by sheer technology and their ability to understand the Indian market better.”

This transformation is already happening, Kant reckoned. “Indians are innovating not just for themselves, but for the rest of the world.” India, for example, is on its way to possibly becoming the world’s first cashless society. “Every individual will become a walking ATM by 2025,” he predicted. For this to happen, the government has a role to play, Kant explained. “You have to create the right ecosystem. The government must act as a facilitator and spearhead change.” India should resist copying the models and approaches of other countries, including successful competitors. “India has to have its own growth model.”

The summit Co-Chairs also cautioned against resorting to protectionism to fend off foreign players with deep pockets. “For innovation and the growth of start-ups, it is not capital that is in shortage, but bright, entrepreneurial people,” said Johan C. Aurik, Global Managing Partner and Chairman of the Board of A.T. Kearney in the US. Added Harvard University Professor of Economics Gita Gopinath: “I would be in favour of having an open environment so long as we have a level playing field. But I do like the idea of tying foreign direct investment to some kind of technology transfer.”

Over 600 government, business and civil society leaders from more than 30 countries took part in the 32nd India Economic Summit, which had as its theme “Fostering an Inclusive India through Digital Transformation”.

Among the key outcomes of the summit:

In the (Em)Powering Growth in India session, the World Economic Forum launched a project to build a practical, searchable, digital knowledge bank of successful policy models and corporate or multistakeholder partnership practices from around the world. In collaboration with Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the initiative will catalyse a series of public-private strategy dialogues to shape national, regional and global action agendas.

At the summit, Visa Inc. released the report Accelerating the Growth of Digital Payments in India: A Five-Year Outlook, which outlines how digital payments can save the Indian economy trillions of rupees by bringing down the cost of cash. The study examines how India can make the transition to a digital payment system over the next five years and outlines a roadmap for lowering the cost of cash to 1.3% of GDP from the current1.7%.

Three Indian states committed to advancing agriculture partnerships supported by the World Economic Forum’s New Vision for Agriculture initiative in India. More than 20 companies and producers’ associations are involved in partnership platforms in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka, focused on developing integrated value-chain approaches to improve farmers’ livelihoods.

In partnership with the Jubilant Bhartia Foundation, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, a sister organization of the World Economic Forum, announced that Neichute Doulo of Entrepreneurs Associate (EA) won the 2016 India Social Entrepreneur of the Year award. He received the prize in the presence of Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport, Highways and Shipping of India.

The Global Shapers Hub in New Delhi launched Feed the Need, a project to salvage and supply to homeless shelters unspoiled food that would otherwise be wasted by catering companies and restaurants. Global Shapers participating in the India Economic Summit supported the inauguration of the programme by participating in a meal service at a shelter in Pahagunj, Delhi, run by NGO Aashray Adhikar Abhiyan, where they discussed opportunities to scale up and replicate the model across India.

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