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Bangalore: It is structured like a law or an audit firm.

It offers the kind of payment options consumer product retailers or car dealers do.

Yet, it is a company that runs a chain of cancer hospitals.

The idea for Healthcare Global Enterprises, or HCG, was born in the early 1990s when B.S. Ajaikumar, then a doctor based in Chicago, made a trip to India to study the state of cancer treatment in the country.

He was shocked by what he saw at government hospitals and clinics: rudimentary technology, long queues and dilapidated infrastructure.

The government, Ajaikumar said, couldn’t have done much.

Nor, he added, could a pure private enterprise. “I thought of setting up something in between that would attract people to invest."

Soon after, in 1991, he turned an entrepreneur and founded the Bangalore Institute of Oncology.

Well over a decade later, in 2003, he decided to return to India for good.

Two years later, in 2005, he renamed the company HCG.

Since then, he has set up 25 centres, including one in Uganda, and signed on 450 oncologists, many of whom are also investors in HCG.

Ajaikumar continues to hold in excess of a 25% stake in the firm. Other investors include the doctors; Wipro’s billionaire founder Azim Premji who invested $20 million in 2010 through his Premji Invest; Milestone Religare; and Singapore’s state investment firm Temasek Holdings which recently bought Evolvence India Life Sciences Fund’s stake in HCG for about 130 crore.

It makes sense to turn doctors into entrepreneurs, said Ajaikumar. “The idea behind it was to make doctors responsible and do the right thing for patients," Ajaikumar said. “Today in healthcare, a lot of business people are getting into it. We believe firmly that business people should not get into it. The idea is to make the whole model sustainable with only doctors." The firm had no plans to look beyond oncology, he added. In two years, he said, the firm will make an initial sale of shares and also expand its network with eight new centres in India, Africa and West Asia.

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