Nema Etheridge for GlobalAtlanta
Outsourcing information technology processes to India helped John Gravely build and sell his software development company, c360 Solutions Inc., within five years, he said at a recent World Trade Center Atlanta seminar.

India’s cheaper labor expenses, lower employee health insurance costs and highly skilled, ethical labor offered quick growth opportunities for Atlanta-based c360, which Mr. Gravely co-founded in 2001.

By 2005, c360 was a leading supplier of add-on applications to Microsoft Dynamics CRM business software, and in April the company was sold to a division of Hong Kong-based software company, CDC Corp., formerly called Chinadotcom.

“Offshoring to India gave us an opportunity that we wouldn’t have had here,” said Mr. Gravely, one of three panelists who promoted India as an investment destination, despite its reputation for bureaucratic red tape and high taxes.

Success stories like Mr. Gravely’s, coupled with India’s enlarging consumer market and a gross domestic product growth rate of 7-8 percent are reasons the U.S. Commerce Department is “aggressively” encouraging American businesses to enter India, said Abdul Quader Shaikh, senior international economist with the department.

Mr. Shaikh, who was also a panelist at the seminar, is regional coordinator for Africa and South Asia at the Trade Information Center in the department’s U.S. Commercial Service.

During the Atlanta seminar, Mr. Shaikh said that U.S. exporters should look to India’s retail market, which has been growing at an average annual rate of 10 percent over the past five years to create a $330 billion market.

“They’re buying everything the U.S. is buying,” Mr. Shaikh said of India’s 250-300 million middle class consumers. He also noted that India was expected to erect 150 new shopping malls by 2008.

“There are lucrative and diverse opportunities for U.S. exporters with the right products or services,” he said.

U.S. businesses exporting information and communications technology, medical and healthcare equipment, environmental technologies, renewable energy products and travel and tourism services would benefit in the Indian market, he said.

Business process outsourcing, which is still cheaper in India than in the U.S., will continue to attract foreign companies, he said, noting that the industry’s workforce is expected to grow from 450,000 to 1.4 million by 2010.

Software, engineering and design outsourcing will remain key sectors, but airline, banking, insurance and telecommunications services are also developing sectors in India’s business process outsourcing market, he said.

In addition to Mr. Gravely and Mr. Shaikh, Sanjeev Tirath, president and CEO of Norcross-based Pyramid Consulting Inc., was also a panelist. Pyramid helps U.S.-based software developers to outsource their work and owns a software development center in New Delhi.

For more information on doing business in India, contact Mr. Shaikh at 1-800-USA-TRADE or visit http//

For more information on the panelists, contact Patrick Tonui at the World Trade Center at (404) 880-1562.