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Entrepreneurship in India #9 : East and West

22nd Jun 2010
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This is a guest post by Alban Leveau-Vallier of Socialter.The aim of Socialter is to spread the good ideas using social media. As they travel, they spot interesting social entrepreneurs and then they write about them on the blog, make video about them, and spread their word and their good ideas through facebook and twitter. They also offer to advise them on the use of social media.

Christophe Plais is a French entrepreneur who launched Terra Indica, a social business based in Kolkata. The company sells wooden sculptures and furnitures and employs young adults who grew up in the street. The company is only four years old, but it already has prestige contracts, like designing the French consulate.


For Christophe Plais, being a foreign entrepreneur settling in India is not easy. "Implantation is very long. It is difficult to obtain precise information and to know who you can trust. Ethic of work is different and the rhythm is slow, which can be frustrating. But here you can find an enthusiasm and opportunities that doesn't exist in France."


With time, he found the way to cope with this difficulties "First, build a team with Indians and listen to their advices. Second, be very patient." Besides, being a foreigner can be an asset. "Although getting the visa and the resident status is hard, but Indians make it a point of honor to welcome you the best."


The main thing he learnt from his collaborators is that "In Rome, do as the Romans". But Christophe Plais brought many Western style things to the company, like the French habit of drinking black coffee or proposing to his employees to build a rugby team. "Rugby is an excellent management tool which allows to solve relational problems in another context and to meet and spend some time together outside the company."

His Indian associate, Apurba Banerjee, is also convinced by this East and West cocktail. "This exchange will be replicated more and more, as Europe has a growing need for man power, and Asia a growing need for skills."


And you, would you launch a business with a foreigner?

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