Gurugram, India: eGrowth Business Networks (www.egrowth.org) has just concluded their 5th Road Trip dedicated to the growth of Indian Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Industry. Atul Puri – Founder, eGrowth Business Networks took this journey of 20 days between 4th December and 24th December 2018. He drove 4672 Km across the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. During this trip he met and interviewed the office bearers of various Chambers of Commerce, Industry Associations, Entrepreneurs and Startups.
Atul had undertaken 4 road trips earlier during 2017. During these trips he has driven about 50,000 km across the length and breadth of the county. He has travelled to Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The question he is out to answer is ‘How can eGrowth help small and growing businesses (MSME & Startups)?’
Local Industry Bodies are great enablers. Cities like Surat, Aurangabad, Nashik which could have very well been tier 2 cities, have emerged as centres of Excellence. This has become possible due to the local business community joining hands and proceeding as a unit The Chambers of Commerce and Industrial Associations must be applauded for the great job they have done at bringing focus.
Smaller cities in India nurture niche industries – Satara, Kolhapur, Aurangabad, Pithampur have evolved a thriving ecosystem for Engineering industry. This is where the growth for tomorrow will come from
Places like Unjha, Sangli, Kolhapur, Satara, Dhule, Jalgaon are centres of agricultural produce. This is where intervention of technology and integrated logistics can have an appreciable impact on the fortunes of the producers
Startups can be a big enabler for MSME industry. The cities with decent Startup ecosystem are experiencing vibrant growth, Pune, Jaipur & Indore are great examples. The startups being linked to the challenges of MSMEs can potentially start another industrial revolution
Internet is yet to be leveraged – Mobile Internet had taken the world by a storm, while everyone is hooked on to Google and Amazon for personal needs, most of the chambers and associations still do not have updated websites. eGrowth can be a great platform for the entire Industrial world to network and come closer. The industrial bodies can use this platform to exchange information, thoughts and assignments. This can be a great platform for them to operate at the level of India.
Industry needs attention here – Places like Jaipur, Bhopal, Satara, Dhule, Jalgaon are the shadow regions for industry. Many industrial towns live off large enterprises and most of the local businesses are dependent on some large factories / mills. Also Geo-political shifts have been detrimental. Many industries have suffered due to the industry shifting to Rajkot or new steel plants coming up in Raipur.
Business comes first – The key challenge of the businesses is to get profitable orders and this forces them to operate in a survival mode. It takes away most of the time. First challenge is to get the order, the next challenge is to deliver the order. This does not allow the businesses to ‘think for tomorrow’ and build the business in a planned manner.
Spare Capacity – Survival is at risk – One important thing that was discussed during many meetings is the available spare capacity. Very often the entrepreneur invests in additional capacity to meet short term orders which remains under-utilized. This spare capacity remains available for others to utilize. eGrowth can play a big role in match making for the available capacity and the requirements. This will help scale up and avoid a lot of investment in additional capacity building
A lot needs to be done for Government policies to reach grassroots level – The Government announces many well meaning policies for the industry at large, however the business owners are not engaged enough to make use of these. The Chambers and Associations organize events, workshops and other avenues for engagement however the attendance is very thin. The newsletters remain unopened
Apex bodies have a lot to do to impact the industry upcountry – Most of the chambers and associations take pride in being members of apex industry bodies. This is where it ends. The apex bodies hardly impact the development at the local level. While they have huge events in Delhi and Mumbai, nothing really translates elsewhere.
The Next generation – Another concern is the new generation not taking up the business. We came across this concern in Punjab and Jaipur. The first generation entrepreneurs painstakingly build the businesses and also invest in educating the children. Many a times the children go abroad for studies or on assignments and choose to settle there. This leaves little reason for the entrepreneur to continue building the business. The chambers / associations which once used to bustle with activity have a barren look now.