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Business accelerators onboarding MSMEs to aid growth

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NEW DELHI: Padmini Govind, owner of a textile block-printing enterprise in Bengaluru, says the pandemic has altered business opportunities and consumer choices, and she would be better off with certain degree of mentoring and handholding to grow her small business that she inherited from her mother.

“There is too much of volatility, especially for small enterprises. From a pure B2B (business to business) space, I would certainly like to explore the B2C (business to consumer) market now, both in India and aboard,” said Govind, who has joined an accelerator program by Global Alliance for Mass Enterprises founded by a group of business leaders like Ravi Venkatesan, the former chairman of Bank of Baroda and a former head of Microsoft India.

“The accelerator program has promised mentoring, handholding in business expansion and support to raise funds,” she added.

Govind is not the only one who has joined an accelerator program. As small businesses struggle to recover faster following the massive business loss due to the pandemic led lockdown, business accelerators are onboarding them to help in funding, mentoring, marketing and sales training, and business expansion plans.

While Venkatesan-led GAME is targeting women entrepreneurs in Bengaluru, his organisation is onboarding MSMEs in manufacturing space in Ludhiana in collaboration with the state government. Gurgaon-based India Accelerator is targeting MSMEs in the national capital region of Delhi and Maharashtra, and now roping in Cornel University for a state-supported accelerator program for small businesses in the state.

“Many MSMEs are unable to scale, stuck in unproductive business cycles, and dated operations, By leveraging conducive environment, we can encourage entrepreneurial growth. Ludhiana serves as a perfect starting point…and based on the success in Ludhiana, this model can be replicated in other parts of the state,” said Venkatesan, whose ‘Xcelerator Ludhiana’ is targeting manufacturing MSMEs with an annual revenue between 10 crore and 50 crore and service firms with an annual revenue between 2 crore and 10 crore.

The MSME sector, considered a big job creator, is facing a tough time post the pandemic induced nationwide lockdown, due to several factors including low sales, poor demand, disrupted supply chains and high cost of capital. Several surveys have pointed to mass business and job loss in the MSME sector and their profit can may have come down as much as 1.2 trillion due the lockdown.

In six months, the Xcelerator program will drive their human resource capacity, and improve their revenue potential, said Sachit Jain, vice chairman and managing director of Vardhaman Special Steels Ltd. Jain along with Venkatesan and other business leaders at GAME are also bringing financial firms, venture capital funds to help MSMEs raise funds.

Similarly, India Accelerator (IA) targets to onboard 500 MSMEs over a period of three to four years starting with 100 in the first year. The selected MSMEs will undergo the accelerator programme for growing their businesses, they will also get access to bankers and financiers to address their financial requirements. Ratish Pandey, lead of IA’s MSME initiative said in an email that young entrepreneurs with a mix of classroom sessions, and practical workshops, will be empowered with ideas that they can be straight away implemented in their business for a positive return on investments.

Similarly, the “MAHA 60 Journey Accelerator Program” a social impact initiative by the Maharashtra government, in collaboration with Cornell University and XED (Asia Partner of Cornell), will train 180 enterprises over a period of three years. The state government has signed an agreement with the Cornell University for three academic years.

“MSMEs or small family businesses need support, business coaching, and constant learning – about changes in growth process, business expansion and industry best practices. Funding is one part but mentoring for achieving scale and exposure to global practices are a must,” said Shail Vinayak, chief executive of Nano Tech Chemicals Brothers, a chemical manufacturer in Punjab who is joining an accelerator program in Jan 2021.

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