Having tapped into the emerging market in Europe, the IT industry in Kerala is all set to extend its footprint to Brazil and South Africa.

The Group of Technology Companies (GTech), the industry body of software companies in Kerala, is spearheading an initiative to scout the Latin American and African market for fresh business opportunities and work out partnership deals with compatible enterprises in the region.

Last week, a GTech delegation comprising representatives of 13 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) returned from a successful business trip to Germany and the Netherlands with a handful of deals. The team held several rounds of discussions with business leaders in Munich, Nuremberg, Stuttgart, Eindhoven and Amsterdam.

“What struck us most was the upbeat feeling about Kerala in most of the places we visited”, said Syed Ibrahim, office bearer of GTech. Talking to The Hindu here on Wednesday, Mr.Ibrahim who also represents the Indo German Chamber of Commerce said, “Germany was always seen as a tough nut to crack for the IT sector in Kerala, basically because the traditional business methods in that country are different from that in the US. Most small and medium enterprises are family- held and hence partnerships are marked by long gestation periods”.

In March, GTech took up a campaign to create awareness about the emerging business opportunities in Germany. “That initiative paid off and resulted in the successful European tour by the delegation from Kerala. The Indo German Chamber of Commerce and Invest in Bavaria chipped in to open up investment opportunities for us”, Mr.Ibrahim said.

The Chamber, he added, would have a key role in improving bilateral trade between Germany and India from the current 32 billion Euros to 50 billion Euros by 2050. “Efforts are on by the Chamber to touch base with new markets and potential customers in the south western region comprising Kerala and Karnataka”.

He said the `market connect’ strategy to link SMEs in Kerala and Germany would reap rich dividends for the state. “It is upto the Government of Kerala to utilise the opportunity well”.

Binu Sankar, CEO, GTech said most of the members of the delegation who were travelling to Germany for the first time, were taken aback by the warm reception. “The German hosts had gone out of their way to receive us and organise networking sessions”, he said.

“While SMEs in Germany see China as a competitive entity, they are comfortable doing business with us because of the compatibility in terms of culture, transparency of operations and patience in doing business. It has opened up the possibility of a long-lasting relationship”, Mr.Ibrahim said.

Suresh V. P, one of the members of the GTech delegation who struck a deal with an Amsterdam- based company to develop applications for smartphones, said mobility- based solutions offered good potential for the IT sector in Kerala to forge links with European partners, considering the high penetration of smartphones. Mr.Suresh, who is Executive Director of Experion, a Technopark-based firm, also closed a deal with the Danish army to develop mobile applications for a fitness- based training module.

While Zesty, another Technopark- based company inked a pact with two firms, one each in Germany and the Netherlands, three other members of the GTech delegation are expected to finalise agreements soon in areas like e- learning, social networking and mobile applications.