Agra Event

Agra: Workshop held on Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Micro and Small Enterprises in Agra take the Internet route for global reach

Digital Empowerment Foundation’s eMSME National Program reaches Agra with an educational seminar titled “Internet for MSMEs – Digital Empowerment of Leather Cluster”

Venue
Event Name: Empowering the MSME Clusters with focus on Leather [An Interactive Educational Seminar]
Held on  Tuesday, April 5, 2011  (Time: 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM)
Venue: Hotel Atithi, Tourist Complex Area, Fatehabad Road, Agra-282001

Background
According to the last MSME survey, the state of Uttar Pradesh in India had over 3.1 million MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises), including 760,000 and 2.34 million units in the manufacturing and services sector, respectively.  In this state, the leather industry is  concentrated in Agra and Kanpur, with Agra being one the largest manufacturers of footwear for domestic as well as international markets with an annual turnover of Rs.3,500 crore and at least 1.25 lakh people are engaged in the industry.

With nearly 81 million Internet users in India and over 1.9 billion Internet users that exist worldwide, the Internet offers businesses of all sizes a rich and powerful medium to create awareness about their products and offerings. Businesses that are not present on the Internet will therefore miss out on being found by these net-savvy users who shop around for different vendors for products and services.

The Interactive Seminar “Internet for MSMEs”, organized by Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) and supported by Verisign and Ministry of MSME at Agra on April 5, 2011 aimed to address in a timely manner the means MSMEs can employ to make themselves visible to and connect with customers globally in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Speakers

The program was inaugurated by Chief Guest Mr. Raj Kumar Srivastava, Chief Development Officer, Agra. The government was also represented by Mr. Deshraj Gautam, General Manager, District Industries Centre, Agra and Mr. Pradeep Kumar, Director, MSME Development Institute, Agra.

Among other speakers, the local industry was represented by Mr. Dharmendra Soni, Agra Juta Laghu Udyog Utpadak Samiti and Mr. Opinder Singh Lovely, president, Agra Shoe Manufacturers Association (ASMA). From banking sector, Dr. Ramjas Yadav, Chief Manager, Bank of Baroda provided Bank of Baroda’s formal support to eMSME program and was present as a Speaker.

“We are happy to see a highly engaging and enthusiastic response to our eMSME program in Uttar Pradesh. This is a great opportunity for business segments like the Shoe Cluster in Agra along with other micro and small units to grow their businesses by smart usage of Internet and related tools. Our aim is to ensure that affordable & reliable Internet solutions are available with long term support to all clusters of Uttar Pradesh,” said Mr. Osama Manzar, Founder & Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF).

Mr. Kartik Taneja, Lead India Channels , VeriSign Naming Services, explained how simple it is for enterprises of all sizes to adopt internet and showcase their work to the global market.

There was unanimity among speakers that the medium of Internet is a great opportunity for micro and small enterprises to help grow their businesses all across and India and international markets.

Mr. Pradeep Kumar, Director, MSME Development Institute, Agra, shared how the Department of MSME is promoting usage of ICT  (Information and Communications Technology) among MSMEs and shared that financial help will be provided to all those enterprises who wish to use ICT tools including development of websites.

Participation & Impact

About 130 participants and regional stakeholders from various associations, organizations & government departments participated in the seminar which was acknowledged as a landmark event in Agra by speakers and participants.

During the event, best practices and case studies of grassroots organizations that have used Internet profitably  were shared – the objective being to help the participants take advantage of various Internet tools & strategies for building sustainable businesses with profitable growth.

Later, the open Question-Answer session saw participants eager to know more about Internet adoption and were keen know everything about Internet Domain Name Registration, Website Hosting and usage of techniques like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to grow their business through Internet.

Members and students of Central Footwear Training Institute (CFTI), Agra were eager participants and they were keen to know how they can help accelerate the adoption of Internet in Uttar Pradesh. Mr. Osama Manzar invited them to focus on specific clusters, find out their exact business needs and submit the report to DEF for further action.

Among the various groups present, the Marble  Naqqashi artisans were identified as the least privileged  with severe social and financial crisis – their trade involves concentrated intricate work which renders the artisans almost blind by the age of forty. The average income of these artisans is Rupees two to three thousand.

Members of local groups and associations that have requested for a website (for their cluster) include – Agra Shoe Manufacturers Association (ASMA), Joota Mandi, Foundry industry and Stone Carving.

Joota Mandi, which is a group of 300 plus entities, have  requested a special visit by DEF to hold special session for them on ICT adaptation, center establishment and website making. Similarly, members from Foundry industry and Stone Carving (Marble Naqqashi) requested for exclusive visits.

“After the success of  our Internet awareness programs in Varanasi, Kanpur and now in Agra, we have been getting innumerable requests from various parts of  Uttar Pradesh to rapidly  replicate the eMSME program in the entire state,” said Dr. Rajani Kant, Founder Director of Human Welfare Association.

Followup and Further Action

DEF is interacting with District Industries Centre, Agra, MSME Development Institute, Agra and local associations to collate website development requirements and propagate the eMSME program. DEF is in the process of identifying resources to speed-up the website development process for all local requirements.