Being a successful entrepreneur is not just about starting new ventures. It’s more about making others believe in your vision and together bringing it into fruition to fill a need in the society. This story highlights the inspiring journey of one such ardent entrepreneur, Subha Narsingh Bhattachan who has been rigorously working to bring change through his endeavors while contributing towards the overall growth of society. Subha Narsingh Bhattachan is the Group Chairman at SilverPeak Global (SPG), a leading organization that has been at the forefront of the global education sector and business solutions for the past one decade.
Spearheading the global operations for SilverPeak Global, the entrepreneur has been consulting and leading academic institutions and universities in India and Japan to forge academic alliances thereby opening global career opportunities for fresh graduates and professionals across different nations.
The Beginning of Silver Peak
Silver Peak began its journey as an education solution provider in early 2000 when Nepal was still recovering from the grip of bitter civil war. The decade long civil war in Nepal took a huge toll on its education sector. As a result, a large number of students from Nepal started migrating to Russia, China, and other countries to get medical degrees, many of which were questionable. Acknowledging this, Mr. Bhattachan decided to bridge this gap. During his visit to the Philippines at AUF (Angeles University Foundation), he discussed the possibility of a joint medical degree with GEMS School in Nepal. After a lot of struggle and several meetings with the Governments and Medical Councils of both countries, he was finally able to sign an MOU, and thus, the joint medical program began in Nepal in 2007.
In 2012 Mr. Bhattachan moved to Nagasaki where he laid the foundation of Silver Peak Japan. While living in Nagasaki, he discerned that the city was losing its younger population to Fukuoka, Osaka, and Tokyo and hence Japan was in real need of caregivers for its elderly. Thus, Mr. Bhattachan approached the Chief Minister of the state of Mizoram in India, local governments of Iki City, and private caregiver homes in Nagasaki for the sponsorship of students who can be trained as caregivers after 1.5 years of Nihongo training.
“Backed with their support, Silver Peak was able to provide a 2-year caregiver training program to several students who are now working across Japan as certified caregivers. This began a new trend wherein Japanese caregiver homes in Kyushu started considering North East India as a good source for future caregivers to Japan,” says Mr. Bhattachan.
Conquering the Toughest Challenge
One of the major challenges faced by Mr. Bhattachan during his entrepreneurial journey was learning the difficult art of bringing Indian and other foreign engineers to Japan. As Indian engineers are required to invest a year in studying Nihongo up to N3 level before employment in Japan, the students prefer the US and Europe over Japan for higher studies and employment.
Realizing this, Mr. Bhattachan along with his team started focusing on bringing Indian engineers to different Japanese Language Schools for 12 months as language students, and then they were hired. They also worked part-time jobs which they found very attractive as they could earn up to 98,000 Japanese Yen per month. But, this is when Mr. Bhattachan realized that instead of spending over a million Yen to bring engineers to Japan just to study Nihongo, they could attain an N3 level status in India if they put their best efforts. Thus, it began a new journey where the company decided to teach up to level N3 Nihongo in India with the help of local resources. Today, it has 153 Indian engineers studying Nihongo in India at various stages and many of them are N3 ready.
Introducing Foreign SME’s into Japan’s Smaller Cities and Islands
Apart from the education sector, Silver Peak is also transforming the business landscape by helping small and medium-sized foreign companies to enter the market of smaller cities and islands in Japan.
“While only big corporates make it to Japan, it’s rare to find small and medium-sized foreign companies making their entry into Japan, even rarer to find them being wholly supported by the government. Silver Peak helps foreign SMEs to get entry into Japan’s smaller cities and islands while successfully partnering with local governments,” explains Mr. Bhattachan.
Recalling one of the challenging experiences at this juncture, he shares an instance when Silver Peak was planning to bring 7 Indian IT companies to open their branch office in Iki City, a small island located at a distance of about an hour on a fast ferry from Fukuoka. It was hard to convince an IT company to open a branch office in a small island with a population no more than 26000, no ecosystem, and markets based in Tokyo and Osaka, everlasting hundred miles to the north. But the Silver Peak team observed that most businesses on the island were operating without access to technology. So, they realized, this could open the door for small and medium-sized Indian IT companies to enter into the Nagasaki Prefecture market and start by introducing technology and its use to the several hundred small and medium-sized industries and factories across Kyushu.
This led to the formation of Indo-Nagasaki Culture and Friendship Association where the Chairman would head the Industries and manufacturing while the vice would be an IT/Technology expert. The Indian side would follow similar traits with IT/Technology playing a central role.
Focusing on Building Trust
As a leader of the company, Mr. Bhattachan always emphasizes on building trust which is critical while operating in markets like Japan and Korea.
“Trust and excellence are like rent, it must be paid every month, my colleagues across countries live by these tenets. Therefore, we are able to work with private businesses as well as with governments in Japan, India, South Korea, and soon in Uzbekistan,” affirms Mr. Bhattachan.
According to him, though there are many things common between India and Japan, doing business in the respective countries is very different, and trying to make business happen between India and Japan is immensely challenging.
“While the Indian business community is usually very eager and enthusiastic, their Japanese counterpart is (in most cases) unusually silent and look indifferent at times. This provides a perfect recipe for miscommunication and misunderstandings,” elucidates Mr. Bhattachan.
Thus, he recommends spending more time in each other’s country to understand its culture and people to establish a successful business and foster a trusted trading relationship.
Envisioning Future outside the Larger Cities
Mr. Bhattachan believes that though a lot is being done to bring Japanese businesses, investment, and technology to India and other parts of the world, very little is being done towards what the world can offer to Japan, especially for the smaller cities and islands bereft of the young population to support new ideas and innovations.
The entrepreneur sees an immense scope in finding solutions to address multiple challenges faced by Japanese cities and islands that imbue wisdom of the old know-how, tradition, monozukuri, and omotenashi, surviving ritual and culture, above all very warm and welcoming people. “For us, the future lies outside the larger cities. We have very meaningful partnerships and relationships with smaller cities and prefectures and we want to build on that. While we have our presence in Tokyo for our other business activities, we are happy to be operating outside the larger cities,” concludes Mr. Bhattachan.