Prominent business leaders share ideas during The India-UAE Bridge summit hosted by IBPC in June this year Image Credit: Supplied

As an official body that supports and promotes the interests of Indian businessmen, among the most influential business communities in the UAE, the Indian Business & Professional Council (IBPC) enjoys immense goodwill under the wise leadership of the UAE Rulers.

Founded in the UAE in 2003, the IBPC is the oldest and largest association of Indian businessmen and professionals, providing immense opportunities for Indian business representatives to interact and network with fellow businessmen across platforms.

New horizons

The IBPC has always been considered a networking platform, however recent changes in the inner workings are allowing IBPC to expand its horizons. With a fresh perspective and new initiatives, the IBPC is slowly but surely aligning itself with projects that promote knowledge sharing and policy advocacy while continuing to promote events that support its credentials as an able networking platform.

Having hosted seminars and panels on current topics that hold immense relevance to the workings of Indian business in India, the UAE and the world, the IBPC is doing sterling work in helping its honourable members stay abreast of the changes in the political and economic climate in India and the world and sharing information on how this could impact Indian businesses in the UAE.

IBPC hosted an India Dialogues session in Dubai in January that had India’s then Congress party President, Rahul Gandhi in attendance alongwith distinguished Indian businessmen from the UAE

Internally, IBPC has renewed its emphasis on key sectors in the UAE and their representation through Indian business by formulating a series of focus groups to leverage and build opportunity within the sectors.

The IBPC’s seven focus groups are earmarked under verticals including SME and Trading; Real Estate and Construction; Banking, Finance Services and Insurance; Education and Healthcare; Accounting/Audit and Advisory Services; Manufacturing, Shipping and Logistics, and Technology, Telecommunication and Miscellaneous.

In an official communication to members in April this year, Suresh Kumar, Chairman, IBPC said, “The Focus Groups reflect those strategic business and professional sectors that are critically important in the Dubai Plan 2021 and India’s own national priorities.”

The Dubai Plan 2021 reflects the vision of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and builds on the success of the Dubai Strategic Plan 2015. The Dubai Plan 2021 aims to reinforce Dubai’s position as a global centre and destination for a number of industries and sectors as part of which it has hosted several global events and launched several major global initiatives such as gaining the rights to host the World Expo in 2020.

Investment catalyst

In his note to IBPC members, Kumar hailed the efforts of UAE leaders and the Indian government in helping promote bilateral relations and trade that was aiding in further strengthening relationships both economically and culturally between India and the UAE, and the critical role that organisations such as the IBPC would play in this regard.

“Clearly, we are in a Golden Era in the growth and scale of relationship between our home and host countries. It is, therefore, becoming incumbent on IBPC to make determined and focused efforts to being a catalyst for promoting greater investment and trade flows,” said Kumar.

Encouraging policy advocacy

In keeping with this thought, a lot of planning has gone into revising and creating the existing working structure of the body with carefully chosen IBPC Members (among the finest professionals and businessmen to represent the Indian community in the UAE) accepting to be part of the Steering Committees. “The Focus Groups’ Steering Committees will encourage policy advocacy, both with the Government authorities in the UAE and in India, with the IBPC Governance Board and myself helping facilitate this,” said Kumar.

“Those with considerable seniority and standing in the community, have been recognised as Mentors [of the Focus Groups],” said Kumar, adding that those capable of actioning the agreed agenda had been named as Conveners/ Coordinators in each of the Focus Groups/and Special Forums.

“The Focus Groups and Special Forums will have considerable autonomy and authority with regard to their activities, with adequate expenditure authority also being delegated to the Coordinators/ Conveners,” said Kumar.

Raising the bar on events

A corporate approach is also expected to instil renewed vigour within the organisation. The Key Perfomance Indicators, while broadly revolving around increasing corporate and individual memberships for the IBPC and raising adequate sponsorships as well as financial support for its various initiatives, would essentially focus upon raising the bar on the range of activities and initiatives promoted by the IBPC and its Focus Groups.

An excellent roster of events hosted by the IBPC in recent months proves this point. Seminars included The India UAE Bridge – Nurturing Smarter Trade for a Better Future, held on June 30 this year promoting the initiative launched by DP World to encourage more entrepreneurs from India to set up business in the UAE; the meet and greet with V. Muraleedharan, Minister of State, External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs, Government of India, on June 14; the Leadership Summit in February hosted by the Accounting, Audit and Advisory Focus Group with a distinguished panel representing key spokespersons from within the sector in the UAE and from India; as well as the Business Breakfast Meet hosted by the Banking Financial Services and Insurance Focus Group in the same month, with a distinguished panel discussing key aspects on the topic, Alternative Sources of Finance for SMEs in the UAE.

The IBPC also hosted Rahul Gandhi on his first official trip to the UAE in January this year, during his tenure as President of the Indian National Congress. Gandhi addressed members of India’s expat business community in Dubai at an interactive meeting that saw the doyens of Indian business in the UAE in attendance.

Business delegations

Revisiting its roles in the twin spheres of networking and knowledge sharing, the IBPC would also extend support towards visits by key business delegations from the UAE to India and vice versa, helping enhance the exchange of information and investment/trade ideas, for the benefit of both nations.

“The IBPC would therefore transform into a matrix structure; evolving broadly from a command and-control-driven event-management entity,” said Kumar.

Cultural synthesis

The IBPC’s renewed focus on its role in enhancing business relationships for Indian business has not taken away from its interests in promoting the Indian community’s cultural quotient.

The body continues to host cultural events that celebrate important Indian festivals and celebrations that help the business organisation align itself with the expat Indian community.