New Delhi: New Delhi-based Japanese entrepreneur, Naho Shigeta, is the bridge between a young India and an ageing Japan.
Shigeta, who has been in India for the last 13 years, is exploring avenues to shorten the distance between the two countries through technology and human resources.
Over a third of the Japanese population, today is over 65 years, the International Longevity Centre has found. And, Japan is staring at a serious labour crisis.
“This is where I come in. I am looking at India’s young tech-friendly generation from Andhra and Telangana to populate Japanese firms. We are eyeing more than 15 colleges and universities for placement this year. Being the first year, we expect 5-6 companies but we will expand in the next year,” says Shigeta who founded Delhi-based Infobridge Holdings.
She has been working on bridging the gap between India and Japan in terms of technology and human resources. “We are eyeing quality engineers,” Shigeta said adding that the pay scale would be good.
“Salary and perks would completely depend upon the company and the skills of the candidates. However, I think they would be paid in the range of Rs 5-6 lakhs if employed in India and Rs 15 lakhs if placed in Japan. These should be the starting packages,” Shigeta said.
Shigeta, who was on her official visit to Mumbai, spoke to Deccan Chronicle’s Aishwarya Shukla about her business endeavors, her experience of working in India and Indo-Japanese business possibilities.
Q. How interested is Japan in investing in India?
A. Japan has been hesitant in coming to India. Though giants like Honda, Sony, Suzuki are very popular in India, they are established players. Japanese are very popular in South Asia and China. Countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia appreciate Japanese products. Indians are a bit skeptical of Japanese goods, food, and services. Moreover, the Japanese don’t like to experiment much. They communicate very less. This proves to be a blockade for Japanese.
Q. Why did you choose India as a destination?
A. India is a big market. The population is increasing. Young engineering graduates struggle for jobs in India. Japan would be ideal for them. The country is not very far from India. Japan already has people from China and Korea working in the country. Japan would be more than willing to welcome Indians.
Q. What is the volume of business that you have managed to bring to India?
A. We have just started and we are very small players. But the numbers are growing. I am asked over my inability to match the likes of SIDBI and NABARD. I am sure people will appreciate that things take time. Moreover, India is a price-sensitive market. People tend to choose a product which offers them the maximum discount. It is difficult to make a profit in India. This is also one of the reasons for Japanese firms’ reluctance to venture in India.
Q. How has been your experience of working in India? Did you have to go through the infamous red-tapism? What changes would you suggest India to make to attract investors?
A. My experience has been fairly good with India. Andhra government provided us with full support by accompanying us to the villages and farms. Also, there was no bureaucratic hurdle and it was a smooth ride. But there are some challenges. The central government has brought some changes which have smoothened the process of doing business in India. More than India, I would expect Japanese firms and people to move out and look towards India as a favorable destination. They need to take the initiative.
Q. The last decade has seen the growth of women in India in business, policy-making, and sports. How do you see this change?
A. This is a welcome change. The entire world has been male-dominated. But things have changed now. Some Indian female entrepreneurs have made themselves global. Japan is also experiencing social change. And this would stay for long.
Q. Tell us about your journey before coming to India.
A. I was working in Japan before moving to China. China’s population has always been a boon and many Japanese companies were operating in China. Given that India had very few Japanese companies, China was the obvious destination. But China is a regulated market. Also, the competition is fierce. And I always believe in doing something I can excel at. I didn’t see that happening in China. So, I sold off the business and moved to India.
Q. Tell us about your businesses in India.
A. I started with my venture called Infobridge Holdings in 2006. It is a small organisation with just five employees. We undertake research work and provide business incubator services. We have collaborated with an Indian firm which helps us with research. We are also eyeing to export people from India to Japan. We are working to hire young engineers from good colleges and universities and help them get placed in Japan. I am also a Director of Agribuddy, a firm which deals with farmers and farming. We provide farmers with the necessary knowledge and finance. We operate by choosing a “buddy” and make him in charge of 15-20 farmers. A “buddy” takes care of crops and farmers helping them with technology and resources. A “buddy” is paid on a commission basis. Another start-up which I have co-founded is named Gastrotope Pvt. Ltd. Gastrotope looks after the entire agriculture ecosystem accelerating food producers and chefs and building a community to update recipes and methods of farming. Indian middle class is growing. Their food habits are changing. Food being a necessity shall always be up for the experiment.
Q. What would be your message to the budding entrepreneurs?
A. The only message is to keep working hard, keep doing experiments. Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Humans are bound to make mistakes. Always remember, failures give you opportunities. Failures never finish you....