Make Small Strong Initiative: A look at the successful campaign that sought to rally customer support for SMBs

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Even as the Indian economy makes a slow and steady recovery from the pandemic-led downturn, the Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSME) sector continues to face low demand, a lack of manpower, stuck working capital, among other challenges.

Recognising the fact that consumer support is one of the key enablers for these businesses to revive and thrive in the face of these challenges, Google India, launched the Make Small Strong Initiative.

Leading the effort

Building on its effort to help consumers discover small businesses on Google Search and Maps, the new initiative builds on the “Grow with Google Small Business hub” and focuses on accelerating the efforts to help businesses build its digital presence in partnership with Zoho and Instamojo. Keeping the needs of different businesses in mind, the company has also partnered with Dunzo and Swiggy to fast-track the on-boarding process and provide additional support to small businesses to start accepting orders online and enable delivery logistics.

This initiative also saw Google accelerating its efforts to help businesses build their digital presence and rally support from citizens to support small businesses by buying locally, giving reviews and ratings and promoting their favourite small businesses on social media to help generate demand for these businesses.

As part of this Make Small Strong campaign, YourStory hosted a series of insightful interviews and panel discussions to gather support for small businesses. The two panel discussions, moderated by YourStory Business Editor Vishal Krishna, brought together owners of small retail and restaurant businesses to discuss their journey through the uncertain lockdown period, the challenges they overcame, the steps they are taking for digital adoption and the need for customer patronage in keeping their businesses going strong.

Fighting the odds with customer support

The first webinar, titled ‘Fighting the odds with customer support’, saw owners of three small and medium sized restaurant businesses - Brik Oven, a Bengaluru-based pizzeria, Kolapasi.com, a cloud kitchen chain from Chennai and Lavonne, a Bengaluru-based baking science and pastry arts institute and restaurant. This 45-minute long session gave an insider’s view into running a restaurant business in the times of a global pandemic, the challenges of supply chain, manpower, cash flows and more. The conversation then pivoted to the role of customer support in helping businesses flourish, with anecdotes of customer patronage helping the industry weather this storm.

From retail to e-tail

The second webinar, ‘From retail to e-tail’ featured three small and medium retail players — arts and craft store Itsy Bitsy, mother and child care brand The Moms Co and Bengaluru-based organic store, Organic4u. This panel discussion went into the nitty gritties of the effect of the lockdown on business, digital adoption, changing business models and the importance of customer support and advocacy to business.

Helping small businesses emerge stronger

Another highlight of this initiative was a spirited discussion between Shalini Girish, Director, Google Customer Solutions and Dilip Chenoy, Secretary General, FICCI, moderated by YourStory founder and CEO Shradha Sharma. This discussion threw light on the importance of the Make Small Strong initiative, Google’s efforts in helping small businesses adopt tech solutions to enable business continuity and how Google is trying to understand the key issues facing small businesses in order to continue to help them more effectively. Adding to FICCI’s efforts and outlook for SMBs, Dilip spoke at length on the need for the integration of SMBS in the current reality of the business, collaborations, and support and its wider impact on the economy. With the aim to help consumers recognise the efforts these businesses are putting in to survive, and the need to rise to the challenge to help them gain back their economic vitality, all that consumers need to do is buy local, leave reviews and ratings, promote retailers on social media. Every action counts.

“When we support small businesses and make them stronger, we make our communities and country stronger,” Shalini added.

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