[India MSME Summit 2021] Insights on building a roadmap for resilience and recovery in a post-pandemic economy

Here are the top takeaways from India MSME Summit 2021 — business lessons from the first and second waves of COVID-19, the role of technology in survival, the science of capital, cash flow, financial management, and more.

Bringing several SMB founders and key ecosystem stakeholders together in a 10-day event, YourStory's third annual India MSME Summit 2021 delved deep into how MSMEs can leverage a wide range of technology solutions to build their own roadmaps for resilience and recovery amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 60 eminent speakers and over 25 engaging and insightful sessions later, the summit drew to a close with the grand finale event on June 27, 2021 — MSME Day.

The summit featured a stellar lineup of speakers, such as Ashish Sikka, Director of SMB and Channel at Lenovo India; B Raghavendran, Head of SMB Segment, Amazon Internet Services; Manish Chowdhary, Co-founder, Wow Skin Science; KE Ranganathan, Managing Director, Roca Parryware.

The speakers placed the spotlight on important conversations running on four parallel tracks in a series of fireside chats, panel discussions, and keynotes.

The summit brought key insights to MSMEs ranging from business lessons learnt from the first and second wave of COVID-19, the role of technology in helping businesses survive and become competitive, the science of capital, cash flow, and financial management, managing the shift towards remote working, and more.

In case you missed it, here are some of the highlights from the grand finale and the rest of the 10-day event:

Tech helps MSMEs focus on core business areas

Adoption of online selling mechanisms, digital payments, digital bookkeeping, cloud solutions, automation, managed services, and various as-a-service solutions allow MSMEs to tap into new avenues of growth and no longer worry about spending on a large, internal team to manage these processes manually. 

Citing the example of managed services among SMBs in BFSI, Rohit Midha, Director, Services, Lenovo India said:

“As India’s BFSI sector navigates the pandemic, the adoption of managed services is rising because firms need to be better organised and safeguard their businesses. Managed services involve the transfer of a high degree of control to a dependable partner who can deliver outcomes across aspects, including risk, regulation, cybersecurity, legal, and compliance. This way, SMBs can focus on their core business and drive growth with a competitive advantage.”

The session on managed services for accelerating growth profitably and efficiently

The rising need for cloud adoption

Cloud-based technology helps MSMEs focus on their core areas of business rather than spend valuable time and resources on managing in-house IT infrastructure. 

It also offers security, reliability, and scalability for these enterprises to adopt technology in much faster time. Amazon’s Raghavendran pointed out that cloud also gives access to the latest technology like AR, VR, and ML, and - most importantly – makes available what is available to a Fortune 500 company to SMBs.

“AWS works with customers across industries and has one of the broadest, deepest cloud portfolios. We keep innovating daily,” he said.

Besides manufacturing and retail, other sectors that have become highly dependent on cloud computing services are e-learning, telemedicine, banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI).

B. Raghavendran, Head of SMB Segment at Amazon Internet Services Pvt Ltd

Way forward for MSME lending and credit scores

Adopting digital payments helps MSMEs build a formal financial record, which helps them gain access to a range of financial services. It also helps them establish a digital footprint, which is a criterion required to access finance.

The session with Sujata Ahlawat, VP and Head of Direct to Consumer Interactive, TransUnion CIBIL highlighted the uncertainty in availing credit from a formal or informal lending system. But, with the RBI, and the government championing the cause of MSME business owners, she said that many banks today offer business loans at competitive rates, making it much more cost-effective for MSMEs to opt for the same.

Further, CIBIL reports play an important role in helping MSMEs build credibility scores to access financing. Banks look for a good CIBIL and credit report while dispensing loans and MSMEs themselves need to study their CIBIL and credit reports before approaching a bank. 

In fact, a good CIBIL MSME Rank (CMR), said Harshala Chandorkar, Chief Operating Officer, TransUnion CIBIL, can help the MSME get a better interest rate. “CIBIL report is simply a reputation collateral that gives banks confidence to lend an MSME and an enterprise should ensure to moderate and keep a check on its CIBIL report,” Harshala added.

Sujata Ahlawat, VP and Head of Direct to Consumer Interactive, TransUnion CIBIL

Being future-ready by going online

The event covered how the businesses that survived were those that adopted digital tools and leveraged technology and ecommerce.

“When you set up your shop on ecommerce platforms or any other way, you do not have to pay hefty rents, electricity bills, or hire staff - all factors that contribute to major expenses,” he explained,” said Hirdyesh Mordani, Co-founder of MyEasyStore, adding, "Online selling gives you ready data about consumer behaviour. This helps businesses to innovate according to the market demands, which is essential to survive and sustain."

The summit also highlighted how 2020 brought a new era to the Indian wellness industry. Increasing awareness about boosting one’s immunity proved to be the game changers for both Indian and foreign health supplements brands in India. Pallav Bihani, Founder, Boldfit said,

“Pandemic acted as a catalyst for the health supplement industry in India adding that it will grow exponentially in the next five to ten years."

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta and Dipti D