Investing, with love
KLEIN (SMALL) ABER (but) fine is how they say it here. And Wolfgang (Wolfie) Bergthaler is just that, a small man with a big smile.
There is nothing gloom and doom about this Austrian entrepreneur as he continues to promote an exchange of experiences and expertise between Austrian and Indian enterprises. In the face of collapsing large businesses, Wolfie has invested his faith in the spirit of small and medium entrepreneurs.
Founder of Maya India, an Indo-European consulting firm, he has made it his business to help smaller companies become familiar with the Indian market. To make this possible, Wolfie has assembled a group of consultants offering market analysis and business strategies, including contemporary challenges faced by Europeans in the Indian market and Indians in the market here.
When he gets the opportunity to do so, he points out to investors the benefits of investing in biotechnology, infrastructure, energy, environment and transport sectors in India. Wolfie believes India is the most exciting market of the 21st century, perhaps, also because he is so much blindly in love with the country ever since he first visited Hyderabad as an intern with a software company.
"The stay in India changed my life," says Wolfie, who has worked in China as well but has made India the focus of not just work but his life. "When I went to Hyderabad in the summer of 2004, I was exposed to a foreign culture for the first time in my life. I was touched by everything that I experienced there," Wolfie says with an acquired nod of the head similar to that of a South Indian.
Despite all the challenges he faced both culturally and professionally, he looks back on that first visit to India as the best time of his life. "I feel totally adjusted to the South Indian lifestyle," he says.
Wolfie's attraction to India was so strong that he tried to look for work there. That did not happen and so he returned to Vienna to found Maya India in 2008. Last October, Maya India organised 'Invest in India', a symposium with local officials from the chamber of commerce and in April participated in an 'India meets Austria' leadership summit. Experts point out that small and medium enterprises account for 80 per cent of Indian businesses, producing over 8,000 products, contributing 35 per cent to industrial output, 40 per cent to direct exports, and employing nearly 30 million people. Many of these entrepreneurs would like to expand globally but know not how.
In order to at least create a network for the more adventurous entrepreneur, Maya India co-hosted a leadership summit titled 'India meets Austria: Doing Business with and in India' here, recently.
The European region enjoys the number one position as a trade and investment partner of India. Austria is naturally no exception to that trend given its distinctive strength in niche areas of technology. Austrian firms enjoy a long-established reputation in India as vendors of advanced technology and machinery and as reliable and quality enhancing business partners. The total number of Austrian firms with a presence in India is over 500.
At numerous meets, India is promoted as a land of new opportunities. As an export-oriented economy, Austrian manufacturers are, perhaps, fearful of declining orders in the midst of low growth forecasts in many markets in the developed world mainly.
India has an infinite appetite for advanced machinery, industrial products and services of the kind Austrian firms are known to be world leaders in. Experts find a natural commonality between an economy with advanced technologies but shrinking or limited markets and a large growing one with a market expanding without limit.
There are new business opportunities in the field of environment and renewable energy generation. "We need pollutant reduction technologies and waste management for recycling hospital and other hazardous wastes, electronic waste, urban waste...," Saurabh Kumar, Indian ambassador, tells participants of the 'India meets Austria' summit. The other areas of cooperation are ayurveda and yoga for geriatric care; the use of bamboo, handicrafts and other eco-friendly products for daily use items, the ambassador adds.
As the whole world goads India to transform itself into one big bazaar, Wolfie also talks about corporate social responsibility. The motto at Maya India is business-driven philanthropy.
To prove that he means real business, Wolfie helped to organise a health camp in the remote Bobilli village of Andhra Pradesh last March. Here 112 patients have already been treated for cataract and diabetes.
Good luck Wolfie!