The heady aroma of biscuits welcomes us to the office of Global Energy Food Industries. It’s a great way to start the day and when Suresh Bherwani, the company’s managing director offers us cream wafers, it is hard for us to resist the temptation. “We export this to the Middle East, Philippines and West Africa,” says the portly Bherwani, a first generation entrepreneur, with a turnover of Rs.70 crore. Over the next 6-12 months, his biscuits and confectionery products will make their way to Haiti in Central America and Austria, to be followed by the rest of Europe. “Business has been very good and we have been growing by at least 10% each year,” he says.
Bherwani, like most others from the business fraternity of Naroda, presents an optimistic picture of both the business scenario and the general state of affairs at least when it comes to the basic power and water supplies. “A big advantage is the abundant supply of power at reasonable prices. It has been this way for about 15 years now,” says Bherwani, who makes 40 tonne of biscuits every day.
Situated about an hour from Ahmedabad, Naroda was Gujarat’s first industrial area to be developed in early 1964 by Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC). Today, it is home to names such as Reliance Industries, PepsiCo India, Havmor, and Dishman Pharmaceuticals.In many ways, the success of Naroda lies in the multitude of industries that it hosts. The cluster caters to different sectors such as chemicals and intermediates, pharmaceuticals, engineering, plastics, textiles, foods and packaging. According to Jatin Patel, president, Naroda Industries Association (NIA), of the 1,200 companies here, as many as 75% are small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
All is well
It’s a busy day for Ajay Patel and he is neck deep in work. In the middle of incessant phone calls, he gives us a lowdown on what it is like to do business in Naroda. “The first common effluent treatment plant in Naroda came up in 1996. That was a turning point in the development of our industry here,” he says. Patel’s Akash Dyes and