Guwahati Event

On Internet for MSMEs:Empowerment of Emerging Sectors May 26th 2011, NEDFi House, Guwahati, Assam

Organizers:

Digital Empowerment Foundation
VeriSign
Knowledge Partner: Ministry Of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises
Local partners: North East Development Foundation; North East Small Scale Industries Association

About the Seminar:

The eMSME national programme and workshop was an introductory interactive educational seminar cum consultation and meeting among micro, small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurs to deliberate and explore the scope and opportunities in promoting excellence and value addition to enterprise activities in North East using Information Communication and web technology. It aimed to give a virtual identity and visibility to the MSMEs for the local, global and national audience.

The Seminar discussed:

  1. The need of Internet for MSMEs
  2. Use of the Internet as a medium to extend the reach of MSMEs
  3. Business Development & Enterprise Promotion on the Internetli>
  4. Website Service offered by eMSME programme

Background Note:

There are currently more than 2.61 Crore Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in India (as per

4th census of MSMEs conducted in 2006-07) and the sector generates about 56 billion of revenue annually. Most of the MSMEs in India are rural based and run by grassroots entrepreneurs. Rapid modernization and growing market trend have bought many changes in the consumption pattern through use of modern technologies. Many high end businesses have now transform their marketing and retailing transactions through use of ICT and web technology.

With the changing times, the MSMEs also need to scale up their business and create maximum opportunities for outreach to attract clients and global market. ICT and web technology is one fastest medium to increase visibility, but the majority of MSMEs in India do not have a e-commerce portal website. Thus most MSMEs working at the grassroots level remain unknown and do not earn the appreciation. This anonymity is caused for reasons like lack of finance, expertise and networking ability.  By having a virtual identity or a networking platform, the MSMEs can benefit from sources that can provide them with tremendous business opportunity through information and content and also reap economy.

Objectives of the Seminar:

  1. The Seminar was aimed to point out the need for global virtual visibility for the MSMEs in Assam,
  2. To illustrate the role of Internet in creating a virtual identity and a networking platform for the MSMEs in Assam for the local, regional, national and global audience
  3. Discuss and support the need for education and skills among MSMEs in using the internet medium for its extent and reach
  4. Offer Internet solutions for micro and small enterprises to expand their businesses through Internet
  5. Discuss the need for organizations of all sizes in Assam in reaching out to larger audiences and markets all across the world using ICT and web technology
  6. Encourage the promotion of enterprise products and services offered by micro enterprises in remote areas through ICTs and in a cost-effective way to reach out to potential customers
  7. Identifying the need for a reliable information and communication channel for MSMEs
  8. Addressing challenges that are hindering MSMEs in successfully building internet presence and conduct business transactions using ICTs and the internet.

Deliberations:

Session I: 

This session was carried out by panel of speakers from diverse institutions and organizations who spoke and shared about the need and importance of web and Internet technology for MSMEs for emerging market trends. They brought out key issues and thoughts aimed at technological enhancement of MSMEs to promote commerce and enterprises.    It talked about the need in North-East region for such educational programme and business value addition to help the MSME sector merge along the ladder of economic transformation contributing to sectoral growth. The session was mainly an exchange of views of the Key Speakers:

Utpalananda Sarmah, IAS, Commissioner of Industries and Commerce, Government of Assam:

“Mr. Sarmah spoke on the role Internet plays in promoting the cause of enterprise development and the many ways that Internet can help entrepreneurs to promote commerce and business. Micro and small enterprises needs to be encouraged to come to the mainstream of economic development through various channels including through the Internet platform. Having websites can help enterprises to leverage multiple gains. However, entrepreneurs need to know the pros and cons to use Internet or scale up their activities through their websites. They must be sure how to share information, what content is to be put on their websites and so on. On its part the Department of Industries and Commerce have initiated the e-Udyog initiative in January 2011 to streamline activities involving entrepreneurs through various online services. ”

Kartik Taneja,   head of India channels, VeriSign India:

Mr Taneja discussed the purpose of eMSME programme : “to educate the small businesses of the country, the importance of Internet , how they can go online, can do with their websites, market their products and how to market their products and use the Internet to its full potential. India has huge potential and for some time now Internet is a popular medium but for some reason or the other the small businesses in India have not being able to use the Interne. The eMSME seminar series aims to encourage the small business and entrepreneurs to take maximum advantage of the programme and set up their own websites and gain advantages.”

Osama Manzar, Founder Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation, New Delhi:

Osama Manzar stressed that “the programme seeks to develop capacities and skills of micro and small enterprises in using the Internet and websites to promote entrepreneurship and businesses. The enterprises and entrepreneurs today have no better way than having and using their own websites and using the Internet medium to enter into information and communication networks, marketing, networking and showcasing of enterprise activities, products and services.”

Shamsher Singh, Managing Director, Assam Small Scale Industries Association & Joint Secretary, Industries and Commerce Department, Govt. of Assam:.

Shamsher Singh stressed that the “role of computers and Internet has increased manifold in current environment. Offices and big industries are using to the maximum. However, the use of websites and Internet is comparatively lower for the micro, small and medium enterprises. Despite these enterprises working hard to gain hold of business and economy in various sectors, they have not being able to take advantage of internet and other technologies. The entrepreneurs should start ideating and working and taking help of the Internet to promote and publicize their activities”

K Ahmed, Director, Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE):

K Ahmed spoke about the need for the “entrepreneurs to be dynamic and proactive in using Internet and any such technology that can boost their activities and promote business. This is important if entrepreneurs want to compete and be at par with other parts of India and the world. They have to capture the information market and for that Internet can help them to promote through their websites and communication activities. IIE tries to promote its clusters in very many ways and technology and Internet is being explored to promote and publicise their products and services.”

S K Baruah, General Manager & Company Secretary, North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Limited (NEDFi):

S K Baruah emphasize that the “entrepreneurs should take advantage of this is the age of technology. They should communicate, build networks or create an informed environment which will help to boost the entrepreneur environment. However, the laying down appropriate infrastructure and security in online activities are fast becoming a challenge too.”

Session II:

This session was a blend of deliberations, showcasing of various success stories in the eMSME front: the inspiring story of CHANDERIYAN and the launch of the web portals of select MSMEs and discussions with the participants and the issues raised. Key speakers in this Session too highlighted the significant role of Internet. The session on this topic was to educate MSMEs to able to use the web and internet technology for their business expansions through the medium in a cost-effective way and be able to satisfy and reach to its potential customers across geography. The medium would help them communicate beyond its immediate region and sell their service and products to larger market audience online. This session discussed on various potential of ICT as a platform for reliable information and communication exchange platform, and also for online business transactions using internet. The session helped the participants of the seminar to understand the ICT and internet use as a medium of business communication to meet changing demands:

D N Baruah, President, Guwahati Management Association: 

D N Baruah highlighted that the “Internet can be a boon to our enterprises and our entrepreneurs provided other factors are also taken into consideration like infrastructure requirement, laying down broadband services and others.”

M U Ahmed, Addl. Director, Department of Industries and Commerce, Government of Assam:

M U Ahmed stressed that our “entrepreneurs need to take complete advantage of technology and Internet in their activities. The Department of Industries have already made many information public in its site and at district level it promotes online services including filing of forms etc. The activeness in the entrepreneurs to use Internet will definitely help to avail various online services that the Commerce Department is trying to promote and encourage especially through the e-Udyog programme, which is first of its kind in India.”

D D Gajbhiye, Deputy Director, MSME Development Institute, Assam:

D D Gajbhiye spoke that there is “no doubt that Internet can play a significant role to promote enterprises and commerce. There are various success stories around. Entrepreneurs in Assam and North East should come forward to use and adopt website related and other internet services for their advantages”.

Tutorial Interactive Session by Osama Manzar, Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation:

Mr. Manzar in his tutorial demonstration talked about the various pros and cons associated with web based enterprise development and promotion.  He highlighted that the  educational session had two main objectives:

  • First – to help MSMEs realize the need and potential of web and internet technology for their business growth and educate them on the emerging ICT trends
  • Second – to enable them with web services and related IT support, provided by DEF under the eMSME National programme.

Highlight of tutorial interactions:

  • It is not at all expensive to own an e-commerce website. The service is provided at the lowest cost without any compromise on quality of the service, with unlimited pages for your products and services. The service packages range from Rupees 2,000 to 10,000 annually and above depending on the capacity of the organization. Moreover training is also provided to organization resource persons on IT and web skills for maintaining, operating and accessing the sites.
  • eMSME is to educate entrepreneurs who have come from various remote places with no knowledge of technology, and to bring them under one platform and train them. Local entrepreneurs in Assam can be trained in the DRTC, Sonapur Centre in Assam  close by to Guwahati. It has about 20 computers set-up for access and provides training programme on ‘ICT rural entrepreneurship’ for 15-30 days where training in acquiring IT skills and capacity for business outreach and entrepreneurships can be given.
  • Having a website will not only make the entrepreneurs virtually visible, it also can help in transactions and finding resources like raw materials and so on for the entrepreneurs. It is possible that one can find such information online too and get in touch with these kinds of producers who can help in such needs.
  • Internet is the world, any information is possible within a click away but again there are reliability issues, so one has to analyze as what is best for him / her! However, having an e-commerce website is about selling the products and services online which helps the entrepreneur in marketing value. The solution is not merely by owning a website. For such business needs, one will have to know external sources that can provide these help.
  • eMSME can facilitate and integrate farmers and Self help groups formation in the rural village for livelihood similar to the model of the Chanderi project in Madhya Pradesh which can be adopted in the North East too. An example of that can be for the Government initiated Sualkuchi Silk Cluster in Kamrup.
  • Rural BPOs can also be an important initiative for the North East. Business process outsourcing means anything that can be outsourced to some other person who will help to lessen your burden of work. It can mean digitization process or scanning process etc of the work. It is call rural BPO because it is stationed at rural and generate employment to rural people. In cities it is very expensive to hire human resource and related infrastructure, so most of the work is outsourced at villages in rural post to increase the business efficiency and help create jobs for rural masses.
  • The SMS blast Service can be initiated in the North East. Many parts of India are using such medium for information and content access and for communications. Language is not an issue. However to make it successful, a good number of  entrepreneurs should create a network so that maximum users are available and service reaches to all in the created network.
  • Social Networking sites are for those who actively use internet for connecting to their friends or finds friends online across globe. As for MSMEs, they are not looking for friends online but want to have a huge or average network of potential customers to find them on internet or customers find them though internet.
  • Thus, this eMSME programme is for those who want to sell and market their products and services online besides mere social networking. By having their own e-commerce website they will know to network globally and find potential clients to attract global markets and thus scale up their business transactions. Yes, the advantages of free social networking platform like Facebook can be another added advantage like creating a ‘Like’ page for advertising or promoting the e-commerce site.

Outcome:

Many MSMEs who attended the eMSME educational seminar have expressed keen interest and have indulged in the feedback and enquiry session in the end which gave a positive outlook on the objective of the seminar. The seminar gathered more than 100 MSMEs entrepreneurs and nearly 60 MSMEs registered themselves under the eMSME programme service after the seminar and most of them had various queries relating to website services. The programme curator, DEF extended its help by giving its office address and DEF set-up community information resource centre at Sonapur for further queries and business relations needs. DEF ensured the MSMEs who needed help and registered for the programme will be offered the best service in customized way and will provide end to end solutions at any point of time given in the long run.

Programme Agenda:

10:30 AM – 11:30 AM:Session I:INAUGURAL & PANEL DISCUSSION 

Using the Internet as a medium to extend the reach of MSMEs

Policy Makers & MSME Leaders will share how MSMEs can use the Internet and ICT tools to improve benefit their businesses. The Speakers will also share recommendations for building sustainable businesses with profitable growth through the use of Internet as medium for business. Launch of eMSME programme with sample web platforms.

Panel Speakers

  • Utpalananda Sarmah, Commissioner & Secretary, Industries & Commerce,   Govt. Assam
  • Kartik Taneja, Lead India Channels , VeriSign Naming Services
  • Osama Manzar, Founder & Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation
  • Shamsher Singh, Managing Director, ASIDC & Joint Secretary, Industries & Commerce, Assam
  • D N Baruah, President, Guwahati Management Association
  • K Ahmed, Director, Indian institute of Entrepreneurship
  • S K Baruah, General Manager, NEDFi
  • Representatives from AASSIA, NESSIA,  Banks / FI
  • Representatives from MSMEs, Industry Associations / SHG / NGOs / Artisans/ Clusters

11:45 AM – 12:45 PM : Session II:WORKING SESSION I

Business Development & Enterprise Promotion on the Internet

Presentations by Experts and a tutorial will be delivered to the participants to help them understand the basics of setting-up their business on the Internet along with Best Practices of successful MSMEs. Followed by Interactive question and answers

Panel speakers:

  • M U Ahmed, Additional Director, Dept of Industries & Commerce, Assam
  • N Dhaneshwar Singh, AGM, NEDFi
  • DD Gajbhiye, Deputy Director, MSME Development institute

Tutor Speakers

  • Osama Manzar, Founder & Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation

Key Special Invitees

  • Sailen Baruah, Assam State President, North East Small Scale Industries Association (NESSIA)
  • B L Agarwal, Immediate Past President, All Assam Small Scale Industries Association (AASSIA)
  • Deba Sharma, Working President, NESSIA
  • Dhruba Saikia, Chairman, G R Dairy Pvt. Ltd
  • Kumud Medhi, General Secretary, NESSIA
  • Anuj Kr. Baruah, President, AASSIA
  • J N Baruah, Vice President, AASSIA
  • Nileswar Basumatary, Vice President, NESSIA
  • Ronjev Das, Vice President, NESSIA
  • Arup Kr. Dutta, General Secretary, AASSIA
  • Dulal Choudhury
  • Representatives, Banks / FI
  • Representatives, Industry Associations / SHG / NGOs / Artisans