NEW DELHI: Indian entrepreneurs, especially those launching innovative start-ups, have always had an appetite for immigration.
The pandemic has not changed that, though there has been a change in Indian entrepreneurs’ destinations. Lately, the concept of domicile diversification by Indian entrepreneurs has gained significant traction and greater acceptance during the pandemic. “A growing number of Indian entrepreneurs is focused on future-proofing themselves and their businesses by choosing the most conducive start-up ecosystem that offers them resilience in this volatile macro-economic environment, post-pandemic,” says Nirbhay Handa, managing director, and head, global south Asia, Henley & Partners, a citizenship and residency planning firm.
Many start-up entrepreneurs are looking to hold multiple residencies either through structured residence by investment programs offered in countries such as Malta and Portugal or going through the business set-up route in countries such as the United Arab Emirates or talent-based visas provided by countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom, and Singapore, Handa explains.
While hiring foreign talent and overcoming skills shortages is essential for Indian entrepreneurs looking at overseas destinations, complex immigration policies have taken the sheen off some of the traditionally popular countries. “Studies show that immigrants tend to be more entrepreneurial than native-born individuals. To encourage start-ups led by international talent, the destination needs to be innovation-friendly and immigrant-friendly.
While some countries score high on innovation, their immigrant policies may not be as favorable and vice versa,” says Shilpa Menon, senior director-India, LCR Capital Partners, a private investment and advisory services firm that supports families interested in global opportunities. If one scores countries on both parameters, especially in migrating Indians, the names that regularly come up on top are Canada, USA, UK, Germany, and more recently, Portugal and Spain, adds Menon. “Non-bureaucratic processes, easy access to capital for entrepreneurs and good infrastructure are some of the points that make such countries attractive to start-ups.”
In the post-pandemic world, parameters have changed, and business connectivity and mobility have emerged as important factors to consider. “Countries like the UAE have done well whereas places like Hong Kong, where institutional quarantine and limited international travel have been the norm, have suffered significantly. On the other hand, in the past few months, Singapore has made an impressive effort to open up and is now on a path towards even greater openness which is bound to drive more interest from start-up entrepreneurs globally,” says Handa.
But a country might be preferred over another depending on the nature of the industry that the Indian investor is involved in. “Someone may prefer the UK for healthcare and pharmaceutical-based enterprises, while others may prefer Singapore for fintech or AI, machine-learning-based enterprises, or UAE or Malta for blockchain-based enterprises,” Handa says. Overall, post-pandemic countries that offer a structured path to residency through a residence by investment or business set-up visas will have the edge when it comes to attracting both talent and capital, feel experts.