Page last updated at 00:01 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Viewpoints: G20 businessmen in London

How are ordinary business people from the G20 nations coping with the financial crisis and global downturn?

The BBC has brought together nine businessmen to find out what impact the crisis has had on their lives, who they blame, and what they think can be done.

They will be appearing on BBC radio, television and online over the next two days, starting with a breakfast forum hosted by economics editor Stephanie Flanders, where they will challenge business leaders and economists to explain how we got here and how we can get out of it.

Click on the links below to read about the guests.

Lack of investment in peace rather than in war has caused the economic downturn

Ali Al-Assam
Ali Al-Assam

Iraq | CEO, KnowledgeView

I fear the meeting will turn into another talk shop with no action of any substance

Abdirashid Duale
Abdirashid Duale | Somalia | CEO, Dahabshiil Group

There is a clear desire among leading economies in the world to do something about the financial crisis

Oktay Gokyildirim
Oktay Gokyildirim | Turkey | Director, Sweetworld

Financial regulation is like the speed limit on the highway, if there is none then there's definitely going to be trouble

Saurabh Gupta
Saurabh Gupta | India | Phonethics Mobile Media
Let us hope that with the spring coming the market will revive

Igor Kalashnikov
Igor Kalashnikov | Russia | Entrepreneur

The poor should not be the victims of problems caused by the developed world

Nish Kotecha
Nish Kotecha | India | President, TiE UK

No business can survive this credit crunch if its not in drugs or weaponry sales

Yuri Lirmak | Russia | Academic

We, as consumers, must accept some responsibility together with the media

Dirceu Vianna-Junior
Dirceu Vianna-Junior | Brazil | Winemaker

"The credit crunch shows that people nowadays are compromising the future for all

James Wang
James Wang | China | Director, Sichuan Centre


Dr Ali Al-Assam is the managing chief executive of KnowledgeView Limited, a London-based IT company with branches in Dubai and Beirut.

He was born in Baghdad, and went to university in the UK.

Ali Al-Assam

His company provides news publishing systems to media firms and journalists.

He has seen a significant drop in economic activity in the region where his company operates since the global downturn. This has affected the media sector in particular and their willingness to spend and modernise.

He blames the downturn on greed and a lack of investment in peace rather than in war.

If the downturn is to be overcome, he believes emerging economies need help to develop their industry, and economic barriers in Europe and the US that prevent that must be removed.


Abdirashid Duale is the chief executive of Dahabshiil Group - a global money transfer company based in Somalia.

His company has helped not just overseas workers send money home, but has also played a key role assisting relief agencies distributing cash to refugees.

Abdirashid Duale

Mr Duale sees declining economic activity, decreasing investment, falling demand for exports, and rising unemployment as the main threats affecting his region.

All of these factors are reducing the amount of remittances being sent home by those working abroad, which is increasing the uncertainty brought about by the global economic crisis.

He lays the blame for the current crisis at the feet of banks, stock market speculators, governments, academics and also consumers - for their addiction to borrowed money.

He hopes that formal recognition of the interdependence of world economies from the poorest to the richest will emerge from the G20 meeting.


Oktay Gokyildirim is the director of Sweetworld, a confectionary company which imports sweets from Turkey to the UK.

He is also a member of the board of the Turkey-British Chamber of Commerce.

Oktay Gokyildirim

Mr Gokyildirim sees a desire among the leading world economies to address the affects of the global downturn.

But he thinks the difficulties of finding consensus on what to do will undermine their efforts and he has little faith in an agreement on implementing a stimulus package being reached at the G20 summit.

He is optimistic though about the prospect of the G20 economies agreeing to set out new regulations and new supervisory functions to better regulate the financial sector so that a reoccurrence of this downturn is avoided.


Saurabh Gupta is the founder and creative director of Phonethics Mobile Media.

Phonethics is an Indian-based network marketing company which helps brands communicate their message through short video clips published online as well as on mobiles.

Saurabh Gupta

He hopes the summit will bring about new ways for developed and developing economies to partner, and may encourage businesses from the developed world to engage with emerging economies like India, Brazil and China.

He would also like to see the roles between developed and developing economies redefined so that they can benefit both by opening up new markets and providing access to capital, technology and mature business processes.

While consumers have received much of the blame for the financial crisis for being greedy, he believes states deserve the most blame - because they did not regulate their financial institutions and industries more strictly - making the banking crisis an inevitable.


Entrepreneur Igor Kalashnikov runs a double glazing company in Russia and is a former computer programmer.

The programmes he created are still used by Moscow Railways.

Igor Kalashnikov

He set up a beer and soft drinks business in 1992 - which was the first to introduce American and European drinks to the region where his company was based.

He has seen hard times before - in 1998 his beverage distributing business faced one of its biggest challenges, as the Russia Ruble lost 70% of its values against the US dollar in six months.

At the height of the current financial crisis, he bought a small PVC manufacturing line and set up a new company Vitraji.

But now as the economic downturn has dragged on, he has seen production shrink by 75% and most of his competitors have gone out of business.


Nish Kotecha is a former investment banker who spent 18 years in the industry working for banks such as Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan and BZW.

Nish Kotecha

He went on to found TiE UK, a business mentoring network, and is now exploring new business opportunities in the area of microfinance in the developing world.

He says the main economic problems now facing India and the UK are unemployment which could lead to social unrest, lack of industrial competitiveness and the high cost of bailing out the banks.

He hopes the G20 summit will deliver a commitment to continue the drive towards globalization and support the world's poor and will not descend into protectionism.

He sees in the crisis an opportunity for the development of a more entrepreneurial innovative society, and a a greater understanding of the importance of a more open and balanced society.


Yuri Lirmak once ran a nightclub in Tomsk in Siberia, then as Russia re-embraced capitalism in the late 1980s he established one of the city's first private companies teaching English to Russians.

He moved on to selling vacuum cleaners capable of filtering radioactive dust after reactor meltdowns, and then to selling radioactivity meters.

Now he says banks charging interest rates of 28% annually on loans have killed his businesses.

Because of this he has moved out of business and into teaching, and is now the deputy dean at Radioelectronics University.


Dirceu Vianna-Junior is the director of Wine Development at Coe Vintners which imports wine from Latin America to the UK.

He is the first Brazilian Wine Master and the only male Wine Master in Latin America.

Dirceu Vianna-Junior

He says Brazil has yet to see the full effect of the downturn.

He hopes the downturn will be brief and that world leaders will be able to reach a consensus on how to address the global downturn, and follow that with swift combined action.

But his fear is that the economic crisis could extend for several years and mirror the Great Depression of the 1930s.

He considers it too simplistic to lay the blame only on bankers or politicians. He believes consumers must also accept responsibility for the downturn, together with the media, which he says has played a vital role in affecting consumer confidence.


James Wang runs the Sichuan Centre in London, an investment consultancy which helps identify opportunities for Chinese companies in the UK - for example, many London taxis are now made in China.

James Wang

He was born in Chongqing City during the Cultural Revolution and trained as a professional violinist. He first came to the UK in the late 1980s when he became involved in developing business between Chongqing and the UK.

Over the last twenty years, Mr Wang's business has expanded throughout China, but its core business remains investment consultancy.

He hopes the summit will deliver greater respect for China, and a chance for countries beyond Europe and America to have a voice.

He hopes for greater balance in the future between developing countries and the developed. He see China and the US as two engines powering the global plane, both are required for the future.

He believes there is a lesson for us all in the current financial crisis and that we can not simply blame banks - also to blame were people who borrowed money they couldn't repay.

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