Among Third World countries, India stands out as having one of the most developed ‘big business sectors’, with a recent tendency by some firms to go multinational. This notwithstanding the fact that the public sector plays a major role in the Indian economy. Although the origins of some of India's business groups go back to pre-colonial times, most of them trace their beginnings to the 1850–1950 period, the ‘second colonial century’, during which India underwent a limited process of industrial growth as well as became a major exporter of some agricultural commodities to the world market (tea, jute, cotton, oilseeds, and, prior to 1910, opium and indigo). There are obvious parallels there with the developments in some Latin American countries, particularly Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Colombia, which also emerged as major suppliers of raw materials (coffee, sugar, wheat, nonferrous metals) while they built up manufacturing sectors of various magnitudes (with Brazil in the lead). However, the private business sector in these countries presents a picture which differs in many ways from the Indian case. It seems worth attempting a comparison between those two very different underdeveloped regions of the world, the Indian subcontinent and Latin America, in the hope of being able to put the Indian case in a broader perspective. Given the broad similarity in the constraints under which capitalist enterprise laboured in those two areas, a study of the differences in entrepreneurial responses might bring to light certain specificities in Indian entrepreneurial history which often go unnoticed.