By Navya Naveli Nanda and Madhura DasGupta Sinha
Technology for MSMEs: Indu (name changed) is a homemaker-turned-entrepreneur who runs a boutique healthy cake shop. She started by selling nutrient rich cakes and cookies – baked from alternative flours for friends. She was not very technology-friendly and started selling through WhatsApp. Many of her friends encouraged her to open a shop. Indu also dreamed of her cakes and cookies being enjoyed by connoisseurs of heathy food across the country.
As Indu started making a business plan for her shop, she felt overwhelmed. She had seen many food outlets close during the pandemic and she asked herself whether she could look at a more sustainable model.
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‘DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality’ was the theme by UN Women and the United Nations for this year’s International Women’s Day on 8 March 2023. Turns out, ‘DigitALL’ become the nudge that Indu required to propel her journey towards growing her home business.
She decided to work with a mentor in her women entrepreneurs’ community to scale up her small business – digitally. As part of the accelerator programme, she got access to some great digital marketing tools. She worked with a food stylist and a digital marketer to set up attractive photos and got welcomed by a popular food aggregator for healthy snacks. She was part of their mobile app and got great analytical insights about the demand for her cakes, like the spike in demand after the new year, when folks were rushing to keep their new year resolutions. Her logistics and payment collection mechanism, which was lengthy and onerous, also became smooth after adopting the digital logistics partner and payment gateway at a low cost. She created employment for many girls by training them to bake – hiring them through online advertisements.
Digitisation has been the reason behind growth of many sectors of our economy in the last few years, especially the MSME sector that has benefited significantly from the adoption of new age technologies now available to us. From inventory management, accounting and logistics to marketing, sales and data collection – MSMEs have gained immensely by digitisation. As consumers become more familiar with digital adoption, MSMEs too will need to keep up with the pace of digital transformation and adoption in order to sustain their businesses in the long term.
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Digital literacy is an important aspect of the digital adoption journey for MSMEs. The Government of India has introduced a scheme called Digital MSME for empowering MSMEs digitally. The scheme aims to increase the awareness and adoption of information and communication technology (ICT) in the MSME industry by having those businesses and production processes use ICT tools in their business. It aims at promoting awareness of e-platforms and encouraging digital marketing in MSME industries. This also allows the ecosystem to foster and enlarge the talent pool available to lead the digitisation journey of a business.
Indu is now exploring last-mile delivery solution where her cakes can reach the farthest corners of the country – her dream that was powered by DigitALL!
Navya Naveli Nanda and Madhura DasGupta Sinha are building EntrepreNaari. Views expressed are the authors’ own.
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