MSME Day: Why upskilling SMB entrepreneurs is necessary for MSMEs digital transformation

When it comes to SMBs, skilling and upskilling could be the means to both growth and remaining relevant, as well as avoiding the onslaught from big tech.

MSME Day: Why upskilling SMB entrepreneurs is necessary for MSMEs digital transformation

Sunday June 27, 2021,

5 min Read

In this technology-driven world, skills will be more important than capital, networks, or anything else. Skills will be the deciding factor for the success of individuals, organisations, and consequently, our country.

So, why do we talk so much about digital but so little about skills? Let’s not forget that skills will be a prerequisite to wade through the digital landscape.

When it comes to SMBs, skilling and upskilling could be the means to both growth and remaining relevant, as well as avoiding the onslaught from big tech.

Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have been the most affected sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, facing a range of issues related to cash flows, debt servicing, etc.

In the new normal of plummeting demand and customers moving online, upskilling could enable SMBs to turn the dynamic environment in their favour.

A common perception about SMBs is that they are way too operation-focussed and not care about growing their skills. That may not be true. From my own experience and conversations with small merchants, it’s been sufficiently clear that merchants are keen on tools that can help them navigate the digital universe.

A soap trader in Jaipur, Rajasthan, told me he spends a decent amount of hours every day watching YouTube videos on how to use SMB apps. Another kirana shop owner — in his late 40’s — too, said YouTube is his go-to platform for educating himself on things related to technology. He also rued lack of enough content online for shopkeepers like him.

It’s not hard to fathom why small businesses are getting eager to learn more. Specifically, in the retail sector, a huge disruption is taking place, and the kiranas are in the midst of all this action.

There’s Amazon, Jio, Dunzo, and Swiggy on one hand, and a bunch of fintechs on the other who are promising everything — from faster payments to easier credit.

Traversing this labyrinthine set of companies isn’t duck soup for small merchants who are many times uninformed and nescient.

Learning and upskilling is the only way small merchants can put up a stronger front and grow their business. Besides, a lot of these courses could open doors for their participation in government schemes, simplifying funding and access issues.

Courses on tapping into the export market, business process automation, digital marketing, ecommerce adoption, and fundraising could be best suited for small businesses. MSMEs — who have undergone a digital transformation to keep pace with the fast-evolving ecosystem — have been able to ensure better adaptability and survivability of their business amidst pandemic. 

India is blessed to have a vibrant ecosystem of technology startups that are working relentlessly to serve the large base of underserved MSMEs through technology to accelerate growth.

This new breed of MSME-focussed startups are is helping SMBs across all phases of digital strategies — awareness, planning, and implementation. They are bringing simple digital business solutions that are easy to understand, focused on a particular business operation, and ensures 100 percent safety, security, and accuracy of merchant data. 

Technology startups are going beyond providing digital business solutions to MSMEs. These firms are now upskilling MSME owners with reliable knowledge and training, thereby hastening the adoption of digital business solutions.

Through their online and offline skilling programmes, such tech startups are fostering the digital transformation of SMBs, enabling them to acquire skill sets required to sustain themselves in a competitive online market. 

Training for SMB entrepreneurs

The edtech sector has revolutionised the paradigm of business training for small entrepreneurs in India, emerging as the dominant force in the upskilling of the workforce in the MSME sector. 

Edtech companies play an increasingly significant role in helping SMBs bridge the digital gap through online courses across data sciences, cloud solutions, digital marketing, and more. These startups deliver customised training programmes that are designed to cater to learners’ skill requirements and learning goals.

Additionally, online training platforms bring the best practices of leading institutions across the globe to deliver non-traditional skills, including problem-solving and complex decision making.

Today, even ecommerce platforms are contributing to the skill enhancement and digital transformation of MSMEs by harnessing the power of technology.

Leading ecommerce firms in India have devised programmes and practices while taking the characteristics of small entrepreneurs into account to help them become more competitive, achieve higher levels of business growth, and achieve resilience in today’s dynamic business environment.

Similarly, leading social media platforms and technology product companies are working on MSME-focussed initiatives to bring business owners up to speed with the developments in the business technology space. 

Direct intervention by governmental agencies and industry associations is critical for digital adoption among MSMEs. Acknowledging this, the government has identified MSME skilling as a focus area of several initiatives and policies. It has framed trade and ICT policies to encourage digital adoption among small businesses.

The Ministry of MSMEs has developed technology centres (TCs) across India to assist MSME ventures to access advanced technologies. It gives technical advisory support and ensures the availability of skilled labour by offering technical skill development support to the youths at different levels, extending from school dropouts to graduates and engineers. 

As India marches on to become a trillion-dollar digital economy, digital is the way forward for 6.5 crores Indian MSMEs, who will need upskilling on a regular basis to stay educated and updated about the relevant business tools to navigate the complex and ever-evolving dynamics of doing business.

We must keep working towards creating a strong digital ecosystem that supports the adoption of digital technologies by businesses, irrespective of their size, nature, and complexity. 

Edited by Suman Singh

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)