The number of Indian firms among the global rapid-growth companies identified by the World Economic Forum has almost doubled to 30 now from 17 in 2014, Olivier M. Schwab, WEF’s Head of Business Engagement told The Hindu in an interview, adding that the sheer scale of the Indian market, and the necessary innovation made by Indian companies, make them highly competitive at the global level.

Interesting models

“What’s interesting in India with some of the start-ups is the sheer scale of the potential market,” Mr. Schwab said.

“They have the opportunity to scale beyond what can be done in Europe, for example. So that gives birth to very interesting business models that can then be replicated around the world.”

“There are about 30 Indian companies now (from the 17 in 2014),” he added.

“We don’t call them global growth companies now since many are quite established. But in the category of young, innovative, start-up to mid-size companies, we have 30 from India. We have PayTM, Ola Cabs, Dabur, Parle Agro, for example. These are innovative companies and we see them playing a greater role in the WEF’s ecosystem.”

There are 100 Indian companies that are members of the WEF, of which 30 are mid-sized or entrepreneurial companies.

“I don’t think there is a difference between rapidly growing Indian entrepreneurial firms and the same type of firms anywhere else,” Mr. Schwab said. “This shows there is a strong entrepreneurial spirit. There is some talk of over-valuation of start-ups and then the subsequent scaling back of this valuation as being a matter for concern. But the consensus is that this is normal, it happens in the start-up ecosystem around the world.”

Challenges remain

Despite India’s improved performance in the global competitiveness rankings, there still remain substantial challenges in the ease of doing business, and the taxation system, Mr. Schwab said.

“But the interesting thing is that this is across businesses and is not restricted to, say, only start-ups or other particular sectors,” he added.

Mr. Schwab also said the high levels of debt among Indian companies hasn’t dampened their global aspirations as yet. “On the contrary, I think doubling down on the global aspirations and leveraging platforms like the WEF provides them access to outside funds and allows them to be part of a global conversation where Indian lenders can also learn from foreign best practices to do with financing and risk exposure,” Mr. Schwab explained.