Top tips from a global entrepreneur – Vikas Rambal
When setting up in a new offshore market, Perth-based entrepreneur Vikas Rambal says his key tip is to know the country before you decide whether to establish an enterprise in that location.
As head of Perdaman, Rambal has built up a diverse portfolio of international businesses in seven countries over more than 25 years.
His portfolio includes pharmaceuticals, chemicals and fertilisers, energy, finance, funds management, immigration and property with offices in Australia, China, India, Philippines, Singapore and the UK.
Rambal, who came to Perth in 2000, says of the seven countries he operates in, he has lived in four.
“That’s another mantra of successes, you don’t go to a country you don’t know, even the capital. So, in this country, I went to Canberra first.
“You can do a public search on how many Asian companies have come to Australia and failed. They didn’t fail for money. They had capital. They failed because they don’t understand the local rules, they didn’t spend time locally.”
Before establishing Perdaman Pharmaceutical in Ethiopia, Rambal says he went to the capital and met the government and farmers.
“I’ll give you an example, Perdaman Pharmaceuticals did some trading with Ethiopian government, so I went to Ethiopia and I met people and lived like a local person to understand what is good and bad there because as a chairman if you don’t do that, how are you going to run the company? I go there and feel it,” he says.
“You would be very surprised they import 80 to 90 per cent of their medicines from India and overseas and the country is running short of US dollars.
“So, what you do it from the business mind it is to consider where the best place is to be, but in the emotional mind you are doing other things, giving them medicine if you can afford them.
“We won two tenders this year. As an Indian company in an Ethiopia tender, we are winning because they see the social justice we are doing. So, we are not only getting money from the government, but we are passing back 5 per cent – if someone needs band aids or painkillers, we just give it to them. So, it’s a whole package.”
Rambal says spending the time to get to know a country before investing is crucial and can save you from a costly decision down the track.
“So, if you ask me if you would go to Ethiopia to build a manufacturing plant for of pharmaceuticals, I would say no. To manufacture pharmaceuticals, the product needs lots of ingredients which are only available in India and China. Hence, it’s best manufacture the product in these countries to be cost effective.”