Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are considered to be the backbone of the Indian economy. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing nationwide lockdown, however, have created daunting operational challenges for the sector. To address these issues and engage the sector in a more meaningful manner, Amazon recently conducted a series of webinars featuring industry stakeholders.
Amazon has always focused its efforts on enabling small businesses to benefit from e-commerce. To this end, it recently conducted two webinars, ‘Towards an Atmanirbhar India – Accelerate your business with E-commerce, this festive season’, on the digital opportunity for MSMEs. The webinars saw Amazon leaders, industry experts, and successful digital businesses sharing key insights on the benefits of technology adoption with hundreds of MSMEs.

Reaching out to small businesses in Uttar Pradesh

The first of these MSME webinars was organised in partnership with Dainik Jagran and focused on reaching MSMEs across Uttar Pradesh. Amazon has more than 70,000 sellers from Uttar Pradesh with unique products such as leather products, sports goods and Chikankari products, among many more. Two entrepreneurs from the state, Ritika Agrawal, Co-Founder, To be Honest, and Vinod Punjabi, MD and Founder, Ada Chikan, were part of the panel discussion to share their experiences of selling online with Amazon. Both shared a view that the festive season marks the beginning of better and prosperous times, with e-commerce offering an opportunity for MSMEs to launch new products, increase sales, attract new customers and scale their business to become truly self-reliant, or atmanirbhar.

“At a time when social distancing is the norm, e-commerce players such as Amazon become important from this perspective as they offer MSMEs the opportunity to reach and serve customers in the safety of their homes. ”
Siddharth Nath Singh, the Hon’ble Minister, MSME & Export Promotion, Textile and Handlooms, Government of UP.

“Businesses need a proper market and a platform without which they can’t sell their products. At a time when social distancing is the norm, e-commerce players such as Amazon become important from this perspective as they offer MSMEs the opportunity to reach and serve customers in the safety of their homes. Over the years, we have progressed from markets to malls and now e-commerce is the most powerful tool for MSMEs in the new”, shared Shri. Siddharth Nath Singh, the Hon’ble Minister, MSME & Export Promotion, Textile and Handlooms, Government of UP.

Stressing on the need to go digital, Kazim Rizvi, Founding Director, The Dialogue, said, “Small businesses have benefited immensely from e-commerce in the past 15 years. The tremendous market access has given them a great advantage to grow and expand, with higher business revenue.” Speaking about the challenges faced by small businesses during the recent lockdown months, Pranav Bhasin, Director MSME and Seller Experience, Amazon India, said, “Our main focus this festive season will be on enabling sellers to sell and accelerate their growth, helping them get back on their feet. As we look ahead, the adoption of technology will be critical for businesses to position themselves for success in the future and E-commerce can be a great enabler for businesses to reach their customers.”

Towards a self-reliant MSME community in Gujarat

Amazon’s second webinar in this series was hosted in partnership with Divya Bhaskar for MSMEs in Gujarat. Nailing the problems facing small businesses in the state in these unprecedented times, Sh. Saurabh Bhai Patel, Hon’ble Cabinet Minister, Energy, Government of Gujarat, shared his insights with hundreds of MSMEs in attendance. “The year 2020 has changed the way business is done, marketing techniques have changed and so have customer preferences. To achieve the vision of an Aatmanirbhar Bharat, inclusive growth encompassing rural areas is extremely important. Handicrafts is a big business and they are selling in the existing market at present, but selling directly to customers can be really beneficial for them, and e-commerce can play a big role there.”

“The year 2020 has changed the way business is done, marketing techniques have changed and so have customer preferences. Handicrafts is a big business and they are selling in the existing market at present, but selling directly to customers can be really beneficial for them, and e-commerce can play a big role there.””
Saurabh Bhai Patel, Hon’ble Cabinet Minister, Energy, Government of Gujarat

Monali Patel, the founder of Prapti Handicrafts from Surat, and Rohit Matani, the owner of MK Industries from Vadodara, also joined the panel to discuss their experiences of selling online. Monali reflected upon how e-commerce has great potential for small businesses, especially for women entrepreneurs, to become self-reliant. The panelists agreed that Diwali is an important season for every business in India, and it is important to maintain sufficient stocks since online shops remain open round the clock.

Emphasising the need for small businesses to adopt digital technology, Vinod Kumar, President India SME Forum said, “Small businesses can gain a lot through digital transformation and e-commerce is the biggest enabler.” Discussing the impact of the pandemic on small businesses and the ease of joining e-commerce, Bhasin added, “The process of being an Amazon seller has been simplified to enable every motivated seller anywhere in India to reach customers across India and every country in the world.”