The concept of entrepreneurship in India can be traced to the early age of ancient Indian civilization. The Harappan civilization had established a commercial connection with the Mesopotamian society due to their trading culture of exchanging hand-crafted products like toys, pots, utensils, etc. This was known as the barter system, which was highly prevalent before money was invented.
With the passage of time, business and commerce evolved and just prior to interaction with the Western world, Indians were organized in a specific form of economic and social organization that was known as a village or a community. It was the British who introduced the industry culture in India, mainly through establishing private sector industries. Many Indian entrepreneurs set up businesses during that time which remain successful even today, having traversed through the years and staying relevant through them.
We, at StartupTalky, are bringing you a list of such business houses that have traveled through time and have consistently reinvented themselves over the years and are not only relevant today, but are providing tough competition to newer businesses.
Oldest Indian Businesses
The Wadia Group
|Group||The Wadia Group|
|Founder||Lovji Nusserwanjee Wadia|
Founded by Lovji Nusserwanjee Wadia in 1736, The Wadia Group is the oldest conglomerate operating successfully in the country. It operated by securing contracts to build ships and docks in Mumbai from the British East India Company, eventually resulting in Bombay's erstwhile city becoming a strategic port for the British Colonial undertakings in Asia. The first dry dock in Asia was built by Lovji and his brother Sorabji in 1750 in Mumbai. HMS Minden, HMS Cornwallis, and HMS Trincomalee were some of the historical ships built by The Wadia Group. The company is headquartered in Mumbai. The Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Limited, a subsidiary of The Wadia Group, was established in 1863, making it the oldest publicly traded Indian company.
With the passage of years, The Wadia Group continued its growth and expansion trajectory keeping up with time and technology. Bombay Dyeing was established in the year 1879, followed by Britannia Industries, established in 1918, and National Peroxide Limited which was established in the year 1999. All these four companies are listed on the Indian stock exchanges and continue to witness success year after year.
Apart from the above-mentioned companies, some other firms that are operating under The Wadia Group Umbrella are:
A fashion magazine, established in the year 1959, that was of particular interest to Maureen Wadia who was a former air hostess herself.
Wadia Techno-Engineering Services Ltd.
A civil engineering firm that was established in 1960, it offers services like pre-feasibility services, procurement, project management, and technical advisory. The company serves various Indian sectors like textile, industrial plants, commercial complexes, and transportation.
Founded as GoAir in the year 2005, it was an ultra-low-cost airline that reached its success pinnacle as the fifth largest airline in India in 2017 with an 8.4% passenger market share.
This cricket team is one of the ten franchisee teams playing in the India Premier League (IPL). It was established in the year 2008.
The company was established in the year 2011 as a real estate developer with a wide range of commercial and residential properties.
As of the current year, 2023, The Wadia Group’s CEO, Nusli Wadia’s estimated net worth is approximately USD 3.9 billion.
The RPG Group
|Group||The RPG Group|
The roots of the RPG Group can be traced through history to the enterprising Ramdutt Goenka, who founded it in the year 1820. It was his nephew Keshav Prasad Goenka, however, under whose leadership the group expanded by acquiring Duncan Brothers, Octavius Steel, and many other businesses making the company a conglomerate. The commonly known name, RPG Enterprises was founded in the year 1979 by Ram Prasad Goenka, Keshav Prasad Goenka’s son. The group initially comprised the Phillips Carbon Black, Asian Cables, Agarpara Jute, The Indian Express, and Murphy India. Mumbai is the city where the conglomerate has its headquarters.
Staying true to innovation and relevance, the conglomerate has ventured into various businesses over the years, presently boasting over fifteen companies operating in various areas of infrastructure, tires, technology, and specialty.
With a wide presence in the global markets, CEAT Limited was established in 1924 in Turin, Italy. It is the flagship company of RPG Enterprises and the largest exporter of tires in India.
One of the largest power transmission engineering-procurement-construction companies in the world, it has developed power infrastructure in more than 70 countries. KEC International is also increasing its footprint in sectors like railways, civil, urban infrastructure, solar infrastructure, and oil and gas cross-country pipelines.
Belonging to the Information Technology sector, the company is a services and business process outsourcer. Having a global marketing presence in the USA, Europe, Asia Pacific, and South Africa, its service areas include application support and development, testing, enterprise collaboration and content management, enterprise application integration, business intelligence, and data warehousing.
Raychem RPG Limited
The company is engaged in engineering products and services that cater to the infrastructure segments such as power, telecommunications, hydrocarbon, oil and gas, and water.
RPG Life Sciences
A pharmaceutical company of the conglomerate, its three main business operations include manufacturing and marketing of bulk drugs, pharmaceutical formulation & fermentation, and biotechnology.
Harrisons Malayalam Ltd.
This is an agricultural business arm of the RPG Group with a history spanning 150 years. It is the largest producer of pineapples in India apart from rubber and tea. It also produces bananas, cardamom, cocoa, coffee, coconut, pepper, and vanilla.
The venture capital business operation of the RPG Group invests in innovative startups in sectors like health and wellness, technology, automotive, infrastructure, and project management.
Aditya Birla Group
|Group||Aditya Birla Group|
|Founder||Shiv Narayan Birla|
Shiv Narayan Birla founded the Aditya Birla Group in 1857. However, it was Ghanshyamdas Birla’s leadership that catapulted the Aditya Birla Group to its success pinnacle today. During World War I, he set up a jute trading business in response to the increased demand for gurney bags.
With time, the group expanded its operations and footprints and currently has a presence across 36 countries, deriving almost 50% of its annual revenue from its global operations. Its business has expanded across various industry sectors that include, metals, cement, fashion and retail, financial services, telecom services, IT services, renewables, fiber, textiles, chemicals, real estate, trading, mining, and entertainment.
The Aditya Birla Group has seven publicly listed companies with a total market capitalization of USD 70 billion as of March 2022.
Hindalco Industries Limited
Founded in the year 1958 by GD Birla, Hindalco is the group’s metals flagship company. It is an industry leader in aluminum and copper.
Founded by Kumar Mangalam Birla in the year 1983, the company is the largest manufacturer of grey cement, ready-mix concrete, and white cement.
An independent subsidiary of Hindalco and operating in America, Novelis is a producer of rolled aluminum and an aluminum recycler.
A well-known name, the company is a textile producer and has diversified into textile raw materials like viscose staple fiber and viscose filament yarn, chemicals, and insulators.
Aditya Birla Capital
Founded in the year 2007 operating under the parent company, Grasim Industries, Aditya Birla Capital enjoys a strong presence offering services like protecting, investing, and financial solutions.
Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail
The Indian fashion retail company was founded in the year 1997. It has a strong store network of more than 3400 stores, 25000 multi-brand outlets with over 6500 points of sales department stores across the country.
The Journey Continues….
The Indian private sector boasts some of the oldest businesses in the country which have, over time, evolved and reinvented themselves to answer the constantly changing market needs. Not only that, these businesses have marched forth confidently into the new world of information technology and embraced new and emerging technologies proving that these businesses are confident in their approach and ready and willing to adapt themselves to stay relevant in the current competitive scenario. Read Part – II of this continuing article to know more about such old business houses….
Which is the oldest conglomerate operating successfully in India?
Founded by Lovji Nusserwanjee Wadia in 1736, The Wadia Group is the oldest conglomerate operating successfully in the country.
Name a few companies owned by the RPG Group.
CEAT Tyres, KEC International, Zensar Technologies, Raychem RPG Limited, RPG Life Sciences, Harrisons Malayalam Ltd., and RPG Ventures are the companies owned by the RPG Group.
When was the Aditya Birla Group founded?
Shiv Narayan Birla founded the Aditya Birla Group in 1857.