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Growing Against the Tide

Mayank Patel
Mayank Patel

Britain’s recession-hit economy is in much need of a lift. Earlier this year, Britain sunk back into recession, its first double-dip downturn since the 1970s, piling pressure on the government to soften its austerity drive. While the Monetary Policy Committee is considering more cash stimulus to boost the economyitis clearly a tough market for British and indeed many European companies – particularly given the Eurozone crisis.

Market conditions appear infertile to corporate expansion or growth, however, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has identified a select few dynamic high-growth companies with the potential to be tomorrow’s industry leaders and to become a driving force of economic and social change. The WEF’s Global Growth Companies represent the most rapidly expanding international businesses.

Azibo Holdings, a British private investment company, is the latest company to be invited to join the Global Growth Companies (GGC).Azibo Holdings’ inclusion marks the successes of its subsidiary companies, Currencies Direct and TorFX – two of Europe’s leading foreign exchange specialists.

Azibo’s journey into the GGC began in 1996 in a small, cluttered office near London’s Paddington Station when a young entrepreneur named Mayank Patel started a new non-bank foreign exchange company in London called Currencies Direct.

Historically, the currency exchange and foreign payment industry had been dominated by large, entrenched financial institutions and banks, and individuals and corporations alike had little choice in the market.  Currencies Direct was one of the first non-bank providers of foreign exchange payment services – which has become a thriving industry within its own right.

Non-bank providers of foreign exchange services differentiate themselves from other financial institutions by focusing solely on foreign exchange services and providing customers with commercial rates as opposed to retail rates – ultimately allowing them to save money on currency exchanges.

16 years later, Currencies Direct and TorFX – the chief companies owned by Azibo Holdings – are two of the standard-bearers in the currency exchange and international payment services industry, representing corporate and private clients across the globe.  Since Azibo’s acquisition of TorFX last year, the company’s turnover has skyrocketed.  With 250 highly-skilled employees spread across operations in UK, Spain, France, Portugal, India and South Africa, Currencies Direct and TorFX have combined annual turnover of £2.2 billion, processing over 300,000 payments in 45 different global currencies.  Both have won numerous industry awards and been featured as ‘Sunday Times Fast Track 100 Companies’.

But perhaps more importantly for their inclusion in the GGC, the company has remained 100 per cent debt free, showed continued sustainable growth and boasts a level 1 credit rating on Dun & Bradstreet for Currencies Direct Limited.

Since 2009, Azibo’s turnover has increased by 23 per cent, with the company pulling in an estimated £1.8 billion this year.

“While the aim of the group is to continue its expansion plans organically and through acquisitions, the group is equally committed to expanding its services to provide dynamic and pioneering ‘business to business’ solutions to help companies, tier 2/3 banks and other non-bank financial institutions process their international payments around the world,” said Patel.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Azibo Holdings to be part of a prestigious community of the world’s fastest growing companies, playing a major role in the world economy.  Azibo Holdings has grown at an incredible rate over the past five years, withstanding the effects of the global economic crisis with individual companies establishing themselves as the best in their class.”

Rodolfo Lara Torres, World Economic Forum’s head of membership for Europe and Latin America said:

“When choosing entrants to our Community of Global Growth Companies, we assess companies on their business model, annual revenues and growth rates, executive leadership and market position.

“Azibo Holdings is a dynamic financial group with clear potential to shape the future in their relevant business sectors and so is a perfect fit to our GGC community.”

Founded in 2007 to encourage high-growth companies to become forces for economic and social change, the World Economic Forum’sGlobal Growth Companies includes over 300 companies from over 60 countries worldwide.  Participating companies must demonstrate growth potential, high turnover, global capacity, consistent yearly growth rates and stellar leadership. Most importantly, however– theymust be invited.

There is no question that the GGC members are companies on the rise.Dr IqbalSurvé, the executive chairman of African investment holding conglomerate Sekunjalo Group and a founding member of the GGC recently asserted that based on their current trajectories, many of the GGC companies will be some of the largest in the world within the next ten years.

Dr Survé also commented on the wider responsibility that GGC companies have to foster social development within their respective countries.

“I think it’s critical that we understand our role in society and that performance and link to societies is incredibly important.  I really believe that the mission of the GGC must be to create a better society through business,”Survé said.

Current GGC members represent a wide swath of the globe, with industries ranging from finance to telecommunications to automotive companies.  GGC members represent countries on every inhabited continent on the planet, with many representing emerging economies and several representing new, disruptive technologies.  Every year, members convene for the Annual Meeting of the New Champions for a collaborative forum where they engage in networking, peer-to-peer collaboration and industry-specific and cross-industry knowledge sharing sessions.

The organisation acts as a bridge, not only between different companies and industries, but it links countries together, allowing for global business leaders to form mutually beneficial partnerships and networks with other likeminded and similar-trajectory companies.  In this globalised economy, the ability to forge these connections is vital for any company looking to become an industry leader.

“Global Growth Companies play an extremely critical role,” said Jeremy Jurgens, Senior Director of the GGC.  “These companies provide the best example of creating new jobs, new technologies and new business models. They represent the best of practise in the economy now.”

The successes with Azibo Holdings representthe latest in a long list of triumphs forMayank Patel OBE. In 2002, the Zambian-born entrepreneurwas named the BT Entrepreneur of the Year, and in 2004, he was named the London Business Awards Entrepreneur of the Year.  In 2011, Patel was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to Financial Services and Entrepreneurship.Mayank Patel OBE currently lives in London with his wife and two children.

Azibo Holdings, Currencies Direct and TorFX are all headquartered in the City of London.