They say, “Great things start with small beginnings”. On the occasion of World MSME Day 2021, Goa Prism Digital Media had organized the World MSME Day 2021 in Association with Incredible Goa – Goa’s First and only Society Magazine. The event was held online due to the Covid restrictions and was participated by some of the well-known names from the industry, including Mr. Mangurish Pai Raikar, who heads the MSME at a National level, Mr. Ralph Dsouza, owner of the D’souza group and President of GCCI, Ms. Ankita Anand, CEO of Goa IT Startup, Mr. Deepak Kumar Singh, Regional Head of the Bank of Baroda and Ms. Pooanm Shirsat, Co-Chairperson of the Women’s Wing of Goa Chamber of Commerce.
As we are aware that MSME is one of the most important parts of our country since it takes care of the small and medium enterprises in the country which is the backbone of our economy. The session had a special focus on the MSME sector in the Goan context. Keeping in line with the current circumstances, the theme for this event was “Post-Pandemic Revival of MSMEs And The Way Forward”.
The objective of the event was to bring different stakeholders of the community onto a single platform to share their views and hopes for the future of MSMEs, coming out of a global pandemic. The event was also graced by the presence of Mr. Rajesh Ghadge, Editor and Publisher of Incredible Goa Magazine. While all speakers acknowledged the adversities currently grappling the community, they spoke with an emphasis on identifying hidden opportunities amidst the crisis, so as to embark on the road to recovery.
Mr. Ralph D’Souza, President-Elect of GCCI – Goa graced the occasion as the chief guest. In his address, he spoke of the global pandemic and its crippling effects on exogenous trade and financial institutions as the main causes of slowdowns in trade and manufacture. This can be resolved only with the help of effective global supply-chain management which will eliminate impediments in the way of business and manufacturing.
It is not all bleak; “Goa has shown a positive sign of growth and marched upwards in the Niti Aayog Sustainable Development Goals from the 7th position in the pan-India index in 2019 to 3rd place in 2021. MSMEs thus play a key role by creating inclusive growth and providing an impetus to industry and innovation,” he said.
As per National Statistical Survey (NSS) data too, 70,000 MSMEs have currently registered themselves thereby promising employment generation of approximately 1.6 lakh people. This goes to show the key role it plays in bringing about truly holistic and inclusive socio-economic growth in the country.
Guest of Honour, IAS officer, and Director of IT – Goa, Ms. Ankita Anand highlighted that there exists a lot of potential in Goan start-ups. She spoke about the Goa Start-Up Policy 2017 under which funding of close to 1 crore rupees has been delivered so far with its set of 14 incentivizing schemes. She urged start-ups to register themselves and benefit from the MSME status. Her department is currently focusing on sensitizing and training the start-ups to be more risk-taking in their approach.
The second Guest of Honour, Mr. Deepak Kumar Singh, Regional Head of Bank of Baroda spoke about the relief measures announced by the RBI, and which are being diligently followed by the banks. Loan moratoriums have been the most common measure taken by banks to soothe distressed businesses but that is not all.
In the specific context of Goa, Singh noted that Tourism and Hospitality being the two main industries of Goa, it will definitely take some time for the economy to recover. But there are plenty of silver linings; the FMCG and Agro-business sectors are particularly promising, owing to high export potential and Goa’s abundance of natural resources. Therefore, the bank has separate schemes specifically for the promotion of food and agro-export. In addition to this, they also have an SME business cell in Panaji which specifically works towards the mobilization of Small and Medium businesses.
Mr. Manguirish Pai Raiker, Chairman of the National Council for MSMEs at ASSOCHAM who presided over the session, presented a very positive outlook. “MSMEs have the caliber to enter the production of products and services, they can enter commercialization at the lowest costs and in the shortest span possible,” he said.
He advocated the potential of MSMEs to gear up and utilize Import-Substitution Zones by forming clusters of similar producing industries. Not only will this ensure total quality control and cost efficiency, but will also help us save large sums of foreign exchange. India will thus come closer to being “atmanirbhar” fostering inclusive growth, self-sufficiency, and self-reliance.
Coining a great tagline for the Post-pandemic MSME growth story, he said, “The new normal is to go global by strengthening the local,” adding to it he said, “MSMEs have a great role to play in reviving the economy with their stupendous capacity to bounce back… I am sure the next-gen entrepreneurs will rise to the occasion and overcome these challenges…”
Ms. Poonam Shirsat, Co-chairperson of the Women’s wing of GCCI was a special invitee to the event to represent Women in the MSME sector in particular. She spoke about the necessity to increase the financial literacy of women, in addition to increasing their awareness about MSME schemes and inculcating independent decision-making capacity among them. She appealed to various stakeholders “to join hands in the upliftment of women entrepreneurs with sick units…”
Increasing reach so as to include maximum people was highlighted as a focus area by Ms. Shirsat. She also clarified that MSME schemes are not merely limited to tech-related start-ups and encouraged all persons with “an idea and the intention to grow it,” to benefit from MSME status.
The second segment of the program had a vibrant line-up of 5 leading start-ups of Goa to share their knowledge and insight garnered over the year, operating in the face of a global pandemic. Mr. Navin Prajapati from Sabka Mandi encouraged all businesses both old and new to fully utilize digital aids. Mr. Sachin Gangadharan from LaFabrica Craft said that start-ups, especially those working towards environmental or socially beneficial causes, should primarily focus on making profits before working towards making a change.
Ms. Suwarna Surlakar from FunMinds Learning Tech emphasized making the best of the ongoing circumstances; “Don’t get stuck to the model, collaborate and reach out,” she encouraged fellow entrepreneurs. Mr. Harish Usgaonkar from Letcetra Agritech shared how identifying key challenges during the pandemic and working to resolve them, granted their company a new lease of life.
Mr. Arbaaz Muzawer from Custom Elements shared how being an entirely digital platform spared them losses from rent and inventory, while the country-wide market access helped them stay afloat. “If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got,” he said.
An example shared during the session was that of a popular garment retail company in India that used to sell uniforms. Owing to the lockdown and shutting down of schools, they were left with no market but quickly adapted to produce PPE kits instead. This is precisely the innovative and adaptive spirit of entrepreneurs and small businesses that the event celebrated.
Continually changing established processes, identifying opportunities hidden in threats, and reinventing to meet new market demands thus emerged as key takeaways from the session and the main motto of the MSME sector for its way forward.