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MSMEs' Rise: Unveiling Meesho's visionary goal of empowering 10 million small businesses by 2027

Mission To 100 Million", presented by News18 Network in collaboration with Meesho, sheds light on the challenges and opportunities of small businesses in India while directing to the clarion call for embracing digital transformation

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Published: Sep 14, 2023 12:22:00 PM IST
Updated: Sep 15, 2023 04:34:09 PM IST

MSMEs' Rise: Unveiling Meesho's visionary goal of empowering 10 million small businesses by 2027For small businesses to thrive and align with Mission to 100 Million, embracing digital transformation is crucial. Recent reports show that 68% of Indian small businesses want to go digital. Yet, a significant 84% face difficulties due to lack of skills, funds, or access to digital experts.

On World MSME Day 2023, News18 Network and Meesho unveiled "Mission To 100 Million." This initiative celebrated the entrepreneurial spirit of MSMEs in India and guided them on adopting digital technologies. The goal was to unite entrepreneurs across scale, recognize their contributions and achievements, and help them navigate a changing business landscape.

Challenges in a Changing Landscape:

India boasts over 12 million registered small businesses – a notable part of the economy. While they employ over 40% of the workforce coupled with exports, certain challenges still persist. With the government’s target of 50% GDP contribution by small sellers by 2025, enabling them to come online and succeed is the key.

The Digital Imperative:

Recent reports suggest that 68% of Indian small businesses want to go digital. Yet, a significant 84% face difficulties due to lack of skills, funds, or access to digital experts.

Uniting Minds:

"Mission 100 Million" brought together leaders, policymakers, stakeholders, and regulators as they discussed practical strategies for small businesses to embrace digitalization, foster innovation, and overcome challenges.

The panel delved into the transition of MSMEs from conventional methods to digital commerce. Vidit Aatrey, Co-Founder and CEO at Meesho was joined by Praveen Khandelwal, National Secretary General of CAIT; Sameera Saurabh, Economic Advisor at the Ministry of MSME, GOI and Shireesh Joshi, Chief Business Officer at ONDC, engaging in defining the roadmap for India@100.

In another panel, the speakers discussed how logistics, payments, venture capital, and social media can boost MSME growth. Sandeep Barasia, Chief Business Officer at Delhivery; Vikas Purohit, Head SMB at META India; Mukul Arora, Co-Managing Partner at Elevation Capital and Leela Datwani, Financial Sector Specialist at CGAP, World Bank, shared insights on collectively creating a conducive and integrated ecosystem for MSMEs to join the e-commerce bandwagon.

Meesho Aims to Empower Small Businesses Through Seller Onboarding

Vidit Aatrey, the Co-Founder and CEO at Meesho, highlighted the company's bold ambition to bring 1 crore sellers onto its platform by 2027. This goal, which is ten times its current seller count of 13 lakhs, is aligned to the company’s mission to democratise internet commerce for everyone while supporting local businesses from the deepest corners of the country. Meesho is aimed to target  the vast untapped potential in the MSME sector, which constitutes around 8.5 crore small businesses, with only 15 lakhs operating online. This move is especially significant given the hurdles many new sellers face during GST registration.

"The rise in online shoppers, now tenfold from before, indicates a promising and mushrooming digital sentiment. Better internet, innovations like ONDC, and soon non-GST sellers being able to digitise their businesses signify bigger opportunities. We have 1.3 million sellers on our platform, compared to a fraction of GST-registered businesses. This progress ushers in digital empowerment of the entire MSME community who forms the backbone of the Indian economy." - Vidit Aatrey

Enabling Digitalization for Small Businesses: Confederation's Efforts

Praveen Khandelwal, addressing the need for digitalization, highlighted that approximately 80 million small businesses in India, with an annual business of around 140 lakh crores, should adopt digital practices. The Confederation of All India Traders, along with its widespread network of 40,000 trade federations, has been committed to this cause.

Their focus on interaction, technology, communication, logistics, and networking encourages businesses to have an online presence alongside physical stores, benefiting both local communities and the national economy. Despite challenges like rapid transformation and financial inclusion, the potential for small businesses to adapt is enormous.

"Discussing Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, it's clear that the future will heavily involve these technologies. So, if we genuinely want to help small businesses, we should incorporate Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning while educating and equipping the small sellers with the deployment of such tools. This story centres around the process of bringing MSMEs into the digital world,” Praveen added.

ONDC: Building a Diverse Digital Commerce Network

The Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) aimed to establish a unified digital platform for the entire commerce ecosystem. According to Shireesh Joshi, ONDC is not about creating a standardised experience. Instead, it forms a network that brings together platforms connecting sellers and buyers. This approach is similar to the internet, where individual websites provide unique experiences. ONDC allows various platforms to connect, each tailoring its own experience for its users. This customization encourages diverse trade possibilities. The network already encompasses various categories such as food products, fashion, electronics, agriculture, and more.

Challenges and Inclusion in Building a Digital Ecosystem for MSMEs

Sandeep Barasia addressed the challenges in establishing a digitally powered integrated ecosystem for MSMEs. He highlighted the five major obstacles faced by MSMEs, starting with the difficulty of sourcing goods due to their low scale. High business costs and limited market access also posed severe challenges.

According to him, for the benefits of such an ecosystem to reach remote and marginalised MSMEs, the use of vernacular languages is pertinent.

“I believe vernacular has a pivotal role to play. Developments have occurred in English, which have yielded decent results so far. However, the challenge lies in replicating this success in languages like Telugu, Bengali, Marathi, and others. It's imperative that we take this to the grassroots, truly embracing vernacular. This stands as a vital and recurring concern – vernacular holds the key indeed, it is an integral part of the solution." - Sandeep Barasia

Mukul Arora highlighted another prime issue of credit and capital availability to SMEs. He spoke about how initiatives like the Open Credit Enablement Network under India Stack and uniting SMEs, credit providers, and technology suppliers on a common platform with shared APIs, can substantially reduce operational expenses and grant easier access to the much-needed capital.

Challenges Faced by MSMEs in India: Credit Gap, Digital Literacy, and Human Capital

Leena Datwani highlighted a huge credit gap of 530 million in the Indian MSME industry. A striking 80% of these businesses expressed their inability to access formal financial resources. For women entrepreneurs, this challenge escalated to 90%. This posed a serious obstacle to address. Alongside the constraints of financial access, there were concerns about limited digital literacy and availability of technology.

As the sector surged ahead, the journey towards digital transformation took on an ever-more important role. In the pursuit of a self-reliant India and the realisation of Mission to 100 Million, the collaboration between News18 Network and Meesho set the stage for a future where Indian MSMEs stand empowered, resilient, and poised to conquer the challenges of a constantly  evolving business world. This milestone not only celebrated the inspirational journeys of the Indian MSME sector but also paved a well-charted path for its growth, innovation, and competitiveness.

The pages slugged ‘Brand Connect’ are equivalent to advertisements and are not written and produced by Forbes India journalists.

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