“We are supporting (India) in areas of malaria, child welfare, gender equality and development, innovation and entrepreneurship, and other areas of healthcare.”
“We’re very proud of Sannam S4 that in the year prior to the pandemic we brought in just over a billion dollars of investment into India through international clients and those companies are creating hundreds and thousands of jobs.”
“If ever there is a time for job creation in India it’s going to be in the next five to ten years, particularly with the demographic curve shaped the way it is, with India’s young population.”
- Sannam S4 is serving India’s education community by bringing in world-class technology that can enable a combination of on-campus and remote learning, so hybrid learning can be deployed ensuring that full remote learning is effective and efficient.
- It has been bringing in many universities that are talking about transnational education opportunities with domestic universities.
- Sannam S4 is looking at accelerating the international universities’ research agenda in India.
- The FCRA (Foreign Contributions Regulations Act) is a big hindrance to the international education community which wants to partner with India.
- The idea is to make the best of what India has, take what the best of the world has, and create India’s own version of international higher education.
Today we will explore India’s economy and growth opportunities in international trade. We have the privilege of welcoming a guest who is extraordinarily well-qualified to talk about this important topic, Adrian Mutton, CEO and Founder of Sannam S4, a leading international market entry and expansion practice that brings international investors, companies and universities to India.
To begin, I asked Adrian what his company Sannam S4 did and what made him start it. “The opportunity that I saw was based on what I’ve been doing for the previous 10 years – helping an international technology company really be global. I thought to myself there must be an easier way to internationalize a company than all of this pain that our organizations go through, whether it be HR, tax governance, etc. That was the idea – recognizing that companies were going to come into India in droves. Who was really going to look after them? After quite a lot of research, I felt that there was an opportunity for me to play a role there.”
What can India learn from the COVID situation? “I feel that India’s healthcare and education system, despite tremendous power, has not yet caught up with India’s development agenda. What Sannam S4 has done is enable hybrid learning so that full remote learning is effective and efficient. We’ve been bringing in many universities that are talking about transnational education opportunities with domestic universities. We’re looking at ways of accelerating the international universities research agenda in India. One of the big issues that we’ve been advocating for is reform on India’s FCRA (Foreign Contributions Regulations Act). We’re doing all we can to leverage the tremendous willingness that the international education community has at all levels to be a partner to India in its development agenda. The idea is to bring the best of what India has, take what the best of the world has and create India’s own version of international higher education.”
“The second area that we’re focusing on is ensuring that the non-profit organizations internationally who were already struggling to do the work that they wanted to in India, perhaps because of FCRA, perhaps because of the time it takes to be a qualified recipient of donations in India, because of the regulations, because of their inability to travel to the country at the moment – we’re doing all we can not just with COVID focus. In fact, we’ve put a hundred thousand dollars of our own money into our own COVID program. Plus we’re raising another hundred thousand dollars with our partners and clients. Then there are all these other programs that we are naturally supporting in areas of malaria, child welfare, gender equality and development, innovation and entrepreneurship, and other areas of healthcare. We want to make sure that the international research collaboration does not slow down through the pandemic.
“The third area which is absolutely critical and has been something that we’ve been working very closely with the government of India over the years is bringing foreign investors into the country so that we can create jobs. We’re very proud of Sannam S4 that in the year prior to the pandemic we brought in just over a billion dollars of investment into India through international clients and those companies are creating hundreds and thousands of jobs. We increased our workforce 20 per cent through the pandemic and 63 per cent of our workforce is female. If ever there is a time for job creation in India it’s going to be in the next five to ten years, particularly with the demographic curve-shaped the way it is, with India’s young population.”
India’s population is young compared to that of the US and Europe. What did he think are the most important needs of India’s young people and how best can they be met considering the fact that he himself, a teacher, a 19-year-old boy coming from Oxford to India had created such a huge empire and had such a huge impact on India? “One has to give India’s young population the opportunity to be the best possible version that they can in whatever shape or form that is,” Adrian pointed out. “Whether it’s in the arts, whether it’s in music, whether it’s in all of the high growth technology companies that are there. The intellectual property and the value of the mind power of young Indians has to be captured in India.”
When I asked Adrian what he would advise Indian parents, he replied, “I think many parents don’t allow their children to take the plunge. I would encourage all parents to be like mine and just let their child take that extra one or two steps that they really do feel naturally anxious about.”
It is well documented that educating and empowering women is one of the most effective approaches to lifting families out of poverty. What policies and measures should we put in place in India to help women realize their potential? What can the business community do to help? “63 per cent of our workforce are women at Sannam S4,” Adrian says proudly, “We will continue to invest in female leadership development programs, and encourage flexible work giving women opportunities – for those who don’t want a full-time job but still want to be economically active and independent and stimulated. Others should do the same.”
On a concluding note, I asked Adrian what was the one message he would like to give from Washington. “This is one big opportunity for everyone, including those of us that play a role in India’s development internationally, to be honest about where the priorities should be over the next 10 years. We’re looking at education, we’re looking at healthcare infrastructure, we’re looking at the foundations of Indian society that have to be rock solid. All of us have a responsibility of sitting down at some point as soon as possible as this pandemic is brought under control in India and saying what can we learn from this last 18-month period. And how do we build India back stronger? And it will grow stronger. It’s just a question of how strong, how prominent and we all have a responsibility in contributing towards that journey.”