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Torchbearers of the soil

Torchbearers of the soil
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In an entrepreneurial race, “finish line” keeps on changing and to climb a mountain, one has to aim the sky. This is a story of a few Telaganaites...

In an entrepreneurial race, “finish line” keeps on changing and to climb a mountain, one has to aim the sky. This is a story of a few Telaganaites who defied the scarcity of jobs in their own land with blended hopes and made it big in Ethiopia due to their sheer determinations and hard works.

Sometimes, simply traversing from point A to point B is not enough. Life is about the journey, not the destination, after all!

With this mantra in mind, a small chunk of dare-devil Telugu-speaking young entrepreneurs, especially from the Telangana State, have been creating quite an impression among the expats venturing in this east-African economy from different parts of the globe.

Above 2,500 meters above mean-sea-level, Addis Ababa, the gorgeous and happening Ethiopian capital today is agog with Indian presence, be it in the hospitality sector, infrastructural support services and or in education.

Indian Restaurants
In ‘The Horn of Africa’, as the country is fondly known to the outside world, A Surendar Reddy, a young entrepreneur in his 30s, from Nagole, Hyderabad, had established ‘Indian Spice’, registered as Kameshwara Sanmukha Specialised Indian restaurant PLC, nearly a decade ago, situated adjacent to Addis Ababa Bole International Airport in the capital.

This humble joint offers the unique culinary delights and diversity of most favourite flavours from Telangana. With more than 50 exclusive varieties of ethnic dishes making up to its menu card, offers endless flavours and spices in its stand-alone cuisine. And remember, it has been able to successfully competes with the local delicious staple offer of Injera, a flatbread baked from the highly nutritious and naturally gluten-free grains Teff.

Expertly prepared meals and even on-call butler services are also made available from this restaurant as a differentiating factor from Reddy’s kitchen. Beside regular chain of Indian foot-falls, this restaurant also attracts who’s who from several diplomatic missions. Internationally reckoned Ethiopian marathon pride Ato Kenenisa Bekele is a regular customer, claims Reddy with a distinct glow on his face.

The mission to spice-up Ethiopian tongue is not catered alone by ‘Indian Spice’. There are some noted few who too add up to the scene. Recommended by the Ethiopian Tourism Commission, the ‘Jewel of India’, sheltered near the city’s main commercial hub at Meskel Square, is another Indian presence that allowed India’s pride keeping high. Established in 1999 and promoted by Mohan Ghanshyamdas Sajnani, offers an array of South, North and Punjabi delicacies to its customers. Six qualified Indian chefs and forty-two local support staffs are catering to a stream of loyal customers every day.

‘Sangam’, the oldest among the famed Indian joints in the capital, is at Bole Road. This entity was raised way back in 1974 by Gollapally Natarajan from Nellore and continues to gain attention from the foodies of different ethnic variations across the city and its suburb.

In all these Indian restaurants, a neatly woven common thread can be perceived; with hungry patrons crowding around to dunk, dip and roll of leafy greens and every kind of spiced meats, adding voluminous textures to an already robust vessel of Indian flavours. In the end, it is just impossible to walk away without stumbling across a hot earthen pot of coffee, locally spelt as Boona, a quintessentially ethnic dining experience aboard.

Tradition and modernity fuse together here in this culinary extravaganza; one cannot exist without the other. Ingredients and recipes have been passed for generations, while one thing’s for sure: Indian cuisine has always been hot and spicy.

Infrastructural support services
Besides spicing the Ethiopian tongues including those of Indian expats, our Telugu biddas are marvelling in providing infrastructural supports also.

Young engineering graduates from Osmania University, G Sujeet Reddy from Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad, along with V Satish and Srikanth Reddy as partners, are pioneering their industrial venture through, Adapty Packaging PLC, a state-of-art technology based containers manufacturing facilities for all sorts of packaging solutions, so far unavailable in Ethiopia, since last two years. Hailing from a well-known business family who are in the manufacturing of polyester yarn, Srikanth, in addition to his existing one, now plans to start his family-line by partnering with his wife.

He foresees that his second business will make a huge impact on the Ethiopian tyre industries in supplementing their precious imports. Adapty Packaging’s present annual turnover ranges from 200-250 million in terms of Indian rupees.

Another Telanganite, Ch Venkat Reddy of Karimnagar with his business arm, Bharat Water-Well Drilling PLC, is in Addis Ababa since 2006. Encasings the vast opportunities available in tapping groundwater resources for the uses of both agricultural and industrial needs, Ch Venkat, who employs 23 local hands in his company, provides the necessary specialised drilling supports ranging from 50-300m deep borewell capacities in the vast highland terrains of the country.

The company’s present annual turnover ranged from 150-200 million Indian rupees while the forecast predicted to become double in next two years on the basis of further scopes available. His entity offers a host of options in farm irrigation through drip and pipe transportations mode.

In the arena of higher education
Today, Ethiopia can boast of having over seventy public universities under the UNDP’s educational funding assistance programmes. A major chunk of teaching faculties for these universities with specialisations in engineering, medicine, sports, economics and management etc, are drawn from India through two top-notch Hyderabad-based placement agencies – Global Placements Pvt Ltd and Place-well Pvt Ltd.

About 60 to 70 per cent of incumbent lecturers, that ranges over 2500-3000, interestingly come from the two Telugu States. It is being increasingly evidenced now that these Telugu-speaking torchbearers from the soil are making a huge impact in boosting the prevailing learning cultures of Ethiopia.

By: Prof Dr Pranab K. Bhattacharya
The writer is a visiting professor of Business Studies and an international workshop/seminar leader, trainer and success coach.

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