Three years into Prime Minister Narendra Modi's term, one clear sign of the acchhe din we were promised is that the Indian economy is expected to emerge as one of the leading economies in the world and is geared to reach $5 trillion by 2025. One of the key drivers of this socio-economic growth is the Small Medium Enterprise (SME) sector. In an August 2016 report, it was found that small businesses contribute 45% of India's GDP. That was almost triple of what Corporate India contributed. The sector was also said to be "employing close to 46 crore people, and growing at 11.5% annually."
The government's recognition of SMEs as the backbone of our economy became even more obvious during Modi's New Year speech. He announced a scheme under which the government doubled the limit of loans raised by SMEs to ₹2 crore. This would also cover loans from NBFCs. Banks were told to raise the cash credit limit offered to small businesses from 20% to 25%. The introduction of the GST bill is also aimed at helping eradicate indirect taxes, increasing transparency in the tax process and giving easy access to new geographies for business expansion. With SMEs in India touted to be a $25.8 billion market for emerging technologies by 2020, the rise of Business-to-Business (B2B) ecommerce is another trend that will gain momentum this year.
Nearly half (41%) of businesses in India that are confident about the economy are learning from other businesses, whereas 56% of unconfident businesses do not.
Keeping these statistics and the importance of Micro SMEs in mind, the Future of Business Survey—an ongoing collaboration between Facebook, the OECD and the World Bank focusing on SMEs across the globe—takes on new significance. The survey was introduced to help businesses succeed by understanding the economic environments in which they operate and sharing these learnings with them, and to essentially share the challenges and opportunities that exist to help them grow. This is important because when businesses grow, they create new jobs—and economies succeed.
To date, nearly 200,000 SMEs in more than 40 countries, drawn from the 70 million businesses with an active Facebook Page, have taken the survey.
In March 2017, the survey included a module on education to understand how businesses are learning and the gaps they perceive. Globally, 42% of businesses told us that learning from each other is one of the primary ways they find the information to master the new mobile environment, second only to online searches (64%). In India alone, 38% of SMEs indicated that they rely on each other to learn. Clearly, businesses are looking to each other to master the new mobile environment. The results indicate that many businesses are embracing mobile technologies to connect with and ﬁnd new customers, sell products or services online, locate new employees and activate mobile marketing campaigns. This is increasingly true for SMEs who seek tools and solutions to help them with affordability to eﬀectively manage their businesses on the go. For SMEs, mobility can bring time management beneﬁts and help ﬁll resource gaps.
As SMEs navigate the growing complexity of technology, they are turning to each other to learn and share ideas, reminding us that when businesses learn from each other, they succeed. In India, we're seeing:
- Optimism in the economy: When businesses connect and learn from each other they are more confident. Nearly half (41%) of businesses in India that are confident about the economy are learning from other businesses, whereas 56% of unconfident businesses do not.
- International trade: A supportive community can help businesses scale geographically. Businesses that trade internationally learn from more sources and have a higher than average number of business-related educational interests. They are also two and a half times more likely to cite educational interest in better information on international trade.
- Increasing jobs: 41% and 39% respectively of businesses that have added jobs in the past six months or plan to in the next six months also learned from other businesses.
Praneet Sahai, co-founder of PosterGuy, a digital product design agency, believes digital marketing helps drive success for his business. Praneet and his co-founders find value in the online community and are able to learn about growing their business from mentors and experts in online business groups. The business owners then share these learnings with other SMEs in the community who do not have access to digital resources. A remarkable way of paying it forward.
What is required to ensure stronger economic and social growth is to empower start-ups and SME growth in the digital and mobile economy.
It is important to recognise the power of networks and mobile technology to drive successful SMEs and foster inclusiveness and thriving communities. What is required to ensure stronger economic and social growth is to empower start-ups and SME growth in the digital and mobile economy. The move forward will be through building supportive communities, using eﬀective mobile solutions to connect with customers, leveraging training programs and sharing the experiences of other businesses—all of which can help accelerate entrepreneurship, diversity and help businesses grow. If these measures are taken both by government and businesses themselves, there is no reason that SMEs will not start contributing even more to the economy.