The pandemic has not changed that; although there has been a shift in the destinations chosen by Indian entrepreneurs. Lately, the concept of domicile diversification by Indian entrepreneurs is gaining momentum and gaining more acceptance during the pandemic. “A growing number of Indian entrepreneurs are focusing on the sustainability of themselves and their businesses by choosing the most conducive start-up ecosystem that offers them resilience in this volatile, post-economic macro environment. pandemic,” says Nirbhay Handa, Managing Director and Head, Global South Asia, Henley & Partners, a citizenship and residency planning firm. Many start-up entrepreneurs seek to hold multiple residencies either through structured investment residency programs offered in countries such as Malta and Portugal, or through the company formation route in countries such as the United States. United Arab Emirates or talent-based visas offered by countries like Australia, the UK and Singapore, Handa says.
While the ability to hire foreign talent and overcome the skills shortage is an important factor for Indian entrepreneurs considering destinations abroad, complex immigration policies have tarnished some of the traditionally popular countries. “Studies show that immigrants tend to be more entrepreneurial than people born in the country. To encourage start-ups run by international talents, the destination must be both conducive to innovation and immigrants. While some countries score high on innovation, their immigration policies may not be as favorable, and vice versa, “says Shilpa Menon, Senior Director for India, CSF Capital Partners, a private corporation investment and advisory services supporting the families concerned by the global opportunities. If the country is noted on the two parameters, particularly in the context of Indian migrants, names that regularly top are Canada, the US, the UK, Germany and more recently Portugal and Spain, adds Menon. “Non bureaucratic processes, easy access to capital for entrepreneurs and a good infrastructure are some of the points that make the country attractive for start-ups.”
In the post-pandemic world, the parameters have changed and business connectivity and mobility have become important factors to consider. “Countries like the United Arab Emirates have fared well while places like Hong Kong, where institutional quarantine and limited international travel have been the norm, have suffered significantly. On the other hand, over the past few months, Singapore has made an impressive effort to open up and is now on the path to even greater openness, which is sure to generate more interest from startup entrepreneurs globally,” says Handa. But one country may be preferred over another depending on the nature of the industry in which the Indian investor is involved. , or in the United Arab Emirates or Malta for blockchain-based businesses,” says Handa. Overall, post-pandemic, countries that offer a structured pathway to residency through a residency-by-investment or start-up visa will have the advantage when it comes to attracting both talent and capital, experts say.
While the United States has always been the dream destination for Indian tech start-ups looking to expand overseas, immigration policies are proving increasingly difficult. However, there are relaxations that are attractive. “The United States recently introduced the International Entrepreneur Parole Program designed to attract entrepreneurs and investors to its shores,” said Mark Davies, global chairman of the law firm Davies & Associates LLC. He believes that certainty and stability are the watchwords for Indian business immigrants and investors in the post-pandemic world. “Australia is an example of having become a less attractive destination due to its prolonged period of global isolation – with no end in sight,” adds Davies.
Popular destinations for Indian entrepreneurs
Singapore remains a top destination for entrepreneurs looking to start businesses due to its efficient startup ecosystem of accredited investors, government support, and a rule of law that creates a level playing field to promote meritocracy. Recently, Singapore launched its TechPass which allows established technology entrepreneurs, executives or technical experts from around the world to come to Singapore for pioneering and disruptive innovations.
United Arab Emirates
The UAE has been applauded around the world for its Covid resilience. Over the past two years, the country has managed to keep the economy open compared to most other financial centers in the world. This instilled a lot of confidence in the entrepreneurs. The UAE is now a top destination for start-ups due to its economic resilience, favorable tax structure and unprecedented global connectivity.
Malta is emerging as a hub for upcoming industries including fintech, blockchain and gaming. Access to multilingual talent, progressive business prospects and its strategic location offering a gateway to European and North African markets have made it an attractive destination for start-ups. Malta offers nomadic residency permits suitable for independent entrepreneurs and also has an investment-based permanent residency scheme – the Malta Permanent Residency Visa Scheme – which has become extremely popular in recent times.
The UK offers a Global Talent Visa and the UK Innovator Visa for start-up entrepreneurs looking to grow their business from the UK. With its world-class university and higher education infrastructure, the UK offers unparalleled research and development opportunities and remains a hub for some of the most skilled talent in technology and science. The Startup Visa and Single Representative Visa have also survived Brexit changes as some of the main routes for Indians seeking to start and grow businesses in the UK.
Australia offers exemplary tech entrepreneurs and senior executives a direct path to permanent residency through its Independent Global Talent Visa. This has been extremely popular with entrepreneurs in emerging and developing markets.
Italy is also beginning to prove attractive as it offers relatively attractive tax and residency options for Indians wishing to settle there and set up businesses. These include the elective residency visa which allows applicants to live in Italy if they have earned €32,000/year outside of Italy to support themselves, a registered office visa and an investor visa which starts from €250,000 investment.
A trend of Indians to apply for Grenadian citizenship as door entry US visa E-2 has accelerated as the world comes out of the pandemic. Grenada passport much stronger than India and E-2 visa allows entrepreneurs to start a business in the United States.