Gujarat inspired the creation of India’s leading investment promotion organisation, Invest India. Read on to find out how?

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The origins of Invest India can be traced to the state of Gujarat. Between 2001 and 2014, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was chief minister, the fourth largest state in terms of GDP set up an investment promotion agency (IPA) called the State Industrial Expansion Bureau (INDEXTB), which monitored online investment projects.

When Narendra Modi became Prime Minister, he began the process of developing world-class IPAs.

In fact, Invest India was established in 2009 as a 49:51 partnership between the government and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). It functioned as a query-processing cell for the first seven years. At that time there was a part time person employed by FICCI who had to juggle a lot of other work. In fact, not much happened as the role of Invest India was not well defined. A person familiar with the matter said, “FICCI had a small room, which did not have enough space to meet investors.”

By the time professional CEOs came to Bagla in February 2015, state governments had also been brought in as equity partners, with the Center and state holding 49 per cent each. “It’s a very strong statement about India’s federalism,” admits Bagla. Soon, the concept of Invest India began to take shape. The team under Bagla, which finally found a home in Vigyan Bhavan in January 2017, started making new concept notes, came up with new ways of making research reports, showed foreigners where the opportunities lie, etc.

Bagla says the private sector character of the agency exposes you to the buy-side and sell-side. For example, from an investor’s point of view, the government will not be able to immediately see how the investor’s mind is working and what the investor is looking for. “When we have an entire team with a private sector background, they know how investors are thinking,” explains Bagla.

With over 411 employees, a majority of whom are young women, Invest India addresses every minute detail of investment. For decades, India lacked IPAs. There has always been a very strong IPA in the top 20 FDI destination countries.

“In spite of the complexity of navigating multiple agencies in the Central and State Governments to set up business, there was no IPA in India. To turn red tape into a red carpet, to handle investors to ease their journey, To facilitate investment and to be the one-stop shop, Invest India has done an excellent job towards Hon’ble PM’s vision of making India the most preferred investment destination in the world,” said A.K. Sharma says. Sharma had previously worked closely with Modi in the Chief Minister’s Office.

Even though Invest India has the smallest budget among the top 20 IPAs in the world, the agency is doing great things. With an average age of 29, the same as India’s, Bagla and his spirited young team are not complaining.

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