By Sheba Devaraj
November 14, 2009 | 00:33:10

IF someone were to tell you that you don’t need a great capital to start a business and rake in profits in several crores, would you buy that claim? Perhaps not! However, the success story of Parweesh Kumar  (34) and Joshua Madan (32), founders of Covenant India, a human resources consulting firm based in Chennai, lends weight to the claim. The young Christian entrepreneurs launched their company with a meager investment of Rs.100 and turned it into an enterprise worth several crores. THE CHRISTIAN MESSENGER spoke to Joshua and Parweesh to unravel the secret behind their success. Excerpts from the interview:

What is Covenant India and how did the business idea come about?

Joshua Madan: We knew each other from our engineering days in Karunya (now a deemed university) and drew closer as part of the youth activities at St. Andrew’s Church (the Kirk in Chennai). I was a Radio Jockey and Parweesh was working in Scope International, a subsidiary of Standard Chartered Bank. It was our dream to start a business and excel in it. In 2003, though many fledgling Information Technology companies flourished, manpower sourcing, as a business, didn’t play a dominant role in India. Taking the cue from the Indian scenario, we came up with Covenant.

Parweesh Kumar: We hold B.E. and MBA degrees, but did not essentially have an HR background. So, we did a lot of ground work; we researched on staffing, spoke to many experienced HR consultants, and when we were sure, we went ahead with our business goal.

How did you start on your dream venture?

JM: We started Covenant with just three of us in a make-shift garage. We did not have enough money to make any huge investments. In fact, we had just about Rs.100, but we believed that God was our boss and that we reported to him. All we needed to do was sow and He’ll give us the harvest.

PK: We went without salary for 6 months. We both received continued support from our family, through their encouragement and prayers. Our first client was Ajuba (a BPO company) but now we are spread across six verticals including BPO, IT, engineering, BFSI, manufacturing and support. Today, we are among the top 15 consultancy firms in India, amidst stiff competition from a whopping 50,000 others.

Your growth has been steady since inception, what are the core strategies that drove this succeed?

PK: One of our most important strategies was to build and establish a good, dedicated, and hard-working team. Investing in a good team is essential for a sustained business growth. Our team is wonderful, versatile, and young and we encourage innovation, smart and out-of-the-box thinking,” said Parweesh. 

JM: In addition to this, we provide the best infrastructure in the staffing industry. As for business, our processes are monitored, disciplined, and ethical. We vet the resumes meticulously and provide precise matches that cater to our clients’ requirements. This way, we ensure that our clients spend the least amount of time in selecting the candidates. Today we have 620 clients, 120 employees and have branches in Coimbatore, Pune, Hyderabad, and Bangalore.

There are several HR companies, how is yours different? What other values do you emphasize on in your organization?

PK: We encourage a corporate environment with Christian values. We had heard people say that Christians could never make it as successful businessmen and we really wanted to bust that myth. We are aware and believe that God handheld us through the business journey and has blessed all our efforts. And we are happy now that God’s made us a testimony. With God as our boss, we never indulge in any unethical practices. In turn, we have made several sacrifices and have even lost a lot of money. Never once have we compromised in ethical values and principles.

JM: We never give false promises or hopes to the candidates about an opening we pursue. We view a 360 degree angle in everything - clients, vendors, candidates and staff.

PK: As a company, we have a small prayer time every morning. I have heard someone say that before people read the Bible, they read you. So we need to be examples to them in every way. This prayer takes place all across our branches.

How has your financial growth been over the years?

JM: As we mentioned earlier, we went without pay for 6 months at a stretch. Our first year’s profit was in thousands. But we never defocused. We believed in our dream and pressed on. We didn’t doubt that one day our business will flourish to rake in good profits..

PK: Today, our profit runs in to a few crores of rupees. We owe it completely to God who has been faithful in His promises and gracious in his blessings.

How’s the business in times of the economic downturn?

JM: We believe in placing the eggs in different baskets. So, instead of specializing in a single domain, we spread out and catered to 6 verticals. By 2005, we had a diverse portfolio. This helped us to go head-on even during the meltdown. In fact, it was a smooth sail through the rough times.

What are your future plans?

PK: Covenant received the award for the ‘Fastest Growing Recruitment Company’ from Executive Recruiters Association (ERA) in February 2009. It’s a great recognition for us. We are striving to be in the top 5 best companies by 2012. It’s a two-year goal and as a team we are working towards achieving it. The top 10 companies are MNCs and soon we hope to break in to the top slot.

Tell us something about the Covenant Foundation.

JM: Covenant Foundation was started as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility. We do our bit to help in church building, and sponsoring school children. We also provide job-oriented training to those in need.

Your advice to young and aspiring entrepreneurs…

PK: Excel in your preparation as well. It’s mandatory for you to prepare very well before you start off. Do your bit, and do it well. God gives you the harvest. Moreover, you need to be determined and persevering. There will be rough times in business, but press on with faith in yourself and in God. And, most of all, never quit. Staying focused on your goal and believing in yourself will get you to the desired destination.

How do you value your business?

JM: This job impacts others lives and there’s job satisfaction. It’s very encouraging when candidates get back to us and thank us.

PK: That’s true. Our business is target-oriented and profit-based. I think we’ve proved that Christians can be good business people, too. It’s a learning process every day and our clients help us to do better. Good business is a daily process.

Parweesh and Joshua worship at the Apostolic Fellowship Tabernacle (AFT) in Chennai. “We are grateful to Pastor Sam Chelladurai for his guidance through his teaching,” the duo added.

Covenant India’s corporate office is located at New # 61, Old # 52/3 Pulla Avenue, Shenoy Nagar, Chennai 600 030. Phone: 044-4390 3900.

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