With digital commerce, the Indian rural economy will find its way into the mainstream, Abraham Chackospoke said.
In the SME Connect Series 2014, the next stop was in Ahmedabad - the land of the Prime Minister, a land of hope and vibrancy. A report dedicated to the SMEs in Ahmedabad was launched on the evening of October 14th at The Pride Hotel. The event saw a lot of exchange of information and knowledge. It was an occasion to mingle, interact, discuss and network.
Coming together on the platform were a host of dignitaries from various industry sectors. Sharing the dais were Arvind Raghav, Director, Dun & Bradstreet India; Abraham Chacko, Executive Director, Federal Bank Ltd.; Antu Joseph, National Head - SME, Agri & FI Business, Federal Bank Ltd; Jagat Shah, Founder, Global Network and AK Singh, Joint Director General of Foreign Trade, Government of India.
Giving a head start to the evening, Arvind Raghavbegan said that the government of India is concentrating on improving entrepreneurship in India. He then took the audience through the report, which reflected a lot of optimism for the state and the business community. In a well-articulated speech, Abraham Chackospoke on the tectonic shift towards digital commerce. He talked about how Europe has a ‘go digital’ strategy for SMEs to make Europe competitive and how all the big Italian brands have been built by SME businesses. With digital commerce, the Indian rural economy will find its way into the mainstream. Antu Joseph made a presentation on Federal Bank and its products that cater specifically to the SME segment.
Jagat Shah, who was the Special Guest for the evening, began his address with ‘kem cho’. Having worked with SMEs in more than 20 countries, he has observed that the mindset of SME owners is the same everywhere. Interspersed with interesting examples from around the world, Shah addressed various aspects that SMEs in India needs to take care of. He talked about how the sector needs to catch up on technology and IT and how it is important for it to ‘go international’ and thereby start catering to the international markets. He also said there was no taboo in failure because failure is a very important part of innovation.
The Chief Guest, A K Singh spoke with a rider that with the new foreign trade policy set to come out in six days, all that he says might become obsolete. Nonetheless, he emphasised on increasing the domestic market share vis-à-vis the imports. “Look out for opportunities for your product range and if you are healthier here, there is a higher budget for exports,” he added.
After the formal launch of the report, the second part of the evening headed into a panel discussion, moderated by Pawan Bindal, Director, Dun & Bradstreet India. To Bindal’s question whether networking and associations help in promoting businesses, Jaimin Vasa, President, Gujarat Chemical Association, answered that they are extremely vital in today’s business scenario. He mentioned about a help desk set up for SMEs in the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce. To a question about how can Indian SMEs compare with its counterparts abroad, A K Singh responded by saying that most of the SMEs looked at the international market only after catering to the domestic market.
Ajay Thakur, Head - SME segment, BSE SME, pointed out that sometimes family culture itself becomes an impediment to the growth of SMEs as does their reluctance to invest in human capital. To bring money into the business, transparency and corporate governance are important. Varinder Gulati, Addl. GM & Zonal Head – Mumbai, Federal Bank Ltd., responded that ethics and transparency must be the mainstay of companies, while money taken for business purposes should be used for the same. When asked to advise SMEs as to what they need to do better, Jagat Shah highlighted the fact that Gujarat is very popular as a brand and there are opportunities for all business clusters. The evening concluded with networking over dinner.