The man who must instil confidence in London business leaders and champion their case in the wake of Brexit is a Canary Wharf -based self-made multi-millionaire who grew up in poverty in India.
Rajesh Agrawal, who has a reported personal fortune of £90million, has been appointed deputy mayor for business by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
The founder of exchange giant Rational FX and Xendpay , a free money transfer service, has moved quickly to reassure the business community that he is “on their side” while insisting that confidence was the key factor to getting the economy back on track after Brexit jitters.
While some key economic indicators, such as the FTSE index, have returned to pre-Brexit levels, there is still a seismic shift in the way that Britain does business, including a collapse in the value of the pound which is already beginning to hit costs for those who buy in foreign currencies.
Father-of-two Rajesh said: “What we are facing generally is a sense of uncertainty nationally after the Brexit vote.
“Businesses are quite nervous. My job is to reassure them and tell them that we are on their side because a lot of this is about confidence.
“If the businesses have confidence then things work. If there is a lack of confidence then it won’t work.
“Being an entrepreneur I am an optimist and we need to talk about the positives that Brexit can bring.
“The priority is to reassure businesses and make sure that when we start negotiations, London has a strong voice at the table.”
He said it was important that London retained access to the single market without getting hit with tariff barriers.
“It is important that we try to renegotiate,” he said. “Our message is very clear – London is open for business.”
Rajesh arrived in London in 2001 and slept on a sofa after leaving the poverty of Indore, India, behind. When he conjured up the idea of revolutionising the way money was sent abroad he found he couldn’t get a loan to start the business although the bank did offer him £20,000 to buy a car.
He used the cash for living expenses while establishing RationalFX. He set up Xendpay in 2012, which operates on a pay-what-you-will basis with 70% paying the recommended amount.
The 39-year-old now has 75 staff operating in One Canada Square.
Rajesh said: “Having run my own global businesses, I know how important it is that London remains welcoming to European and international trade.
"I stepped on a plane for the first time 15 years ago to make the journey to London, and found a city that welcomed me with open arms and didn’t make me feel like a stranger. This openness to talent and enterprise must not change as a result of the referendum.
“The Mayor and I are determined to build a coalition that ensures the needs of business and financial services are at the fore over the coming months of negotiations with the EU. My first priority will be to listen and engage with businesses, to hear their concerns and deliver reassurance.
“We must champion London’s business at home and abroad.”
Mayor Khan said: “London must stay in the single market and be given more powers to ensure we can remain competitive, in order to attract the global enterprise that London’s prosperity relies on.
“Rajesh has created a multi-million pound business from scratch and knows first-hand the challenges that our business leaders face, and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.”
Rajesh, a philanthropist who works with Oxfam Enterprise Development Board and the Prince’s Trust, will step down from running his businesses.