U.S. entrepreneur bets big on Vizag

‘To make it happen, improve air, road connectivity and infra’

January 27, 2017 12:38 am | Updated 12:38 am IST

 Manny Pena

Manny Pena

VISAKHAPATNAM: An American entrepreneur, who has made his largest investment in Visakhapatnam, sees bright potential in the city to emerge as a prominent commercial and financial hub.

Pena4 Inc President and CEO Manny Pena, who was here to participate in CII Partnership Summit-cum-Sunrise AP Investment Meet, told The Hindu on Thursday that the city with a large talent pool and beautiful landscape has scope to grow into a world-class city.

Pena4 Tech, the Indian arm of Pena4 Inc, has its largest facility in the city – a 100 per cent FDI with an initial investment of US$ 3 million in 2011. While Mr. Pena has 90 % stake, Ravi Eswarapu, a local entrepreneur and former senior executive of Tech Mahindra, has 10 % in Pena4 Tech.

Pena4 Group with three companies under its umbrella, is into healthcare with focus on International Coding for Diseases (ICD)- related services, IT Product Development and back office operations for US companies in the area of client management, production management, finance, and HR operations.

The company has plans to invest an additional US$ 3 million in capacity building and training in next generation technologies across the State and invest in startups as an angel investor in Internet of Things, cyber security, analytics, FinTech and artificial intelligence in next two years. It has so far employed 50 at the Hyderabad facility and 300 at the Visakhapatnam centre. In an interview with The Hindu , he said in order to upgrade Vizag into a world-class city, work on Bhogapuram International Airport should be expedited for direct connectivity to the US and Europe. He opined that steps should be taken to invest in skill development and improve bandwidth, construction of multi-layer parking complexes, point-to-point flyovers and social infrastructure with affordable housing and schooling.

Mr. Pena said he found Vizag an ideal location. “That’s the reason why I grew my operations in the city,” he said. In 2004, he started operations in a small way in Hyderabad and decided to shift focus to Vizag in 2011. “In Vizag, we made a large investment in training graduates on coding and IT,” he said and pointed out comparable lower cost of operations, low attrition and ideal family bonding among the locals as the plus points.

‘Post Hudhud revival very fast’

After seeing the resilience of Vizagites to bounce back in a record time post-Hudhud, Mr. Manny Pena said nowhere in the world he had seen such a fighting spirit.

“Incidentally, I was in Four Points by Sheraton on October 12, 2014. I saw the city’s infrastructure totally devastated. Everyone fought back to restore normalcy in a record time by helping each other in the best way possible. I tell everyone in America about my experience here,” he said and described how his IT unit in the city was revived within three days.

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