Digitally empowering micro -entrepreneurs - Hindustan Times

Digitally empowering micro -entrepreneurs

ByHindustan Times
Oct 08, 2022 03:44 PM IST

The article has been authored by Gautam Sinha, cofounder and CEO, CBREX.

Throughout history, entrepreneurs have been regarded as heroes. Although the world routinely extols people such as Richard Branson and Bill Gates, an even greater world of entrepreneurship can be found in emerging countries. A rapid transition to digitally-focused business strategies and transactions was necessitated by Covid-19 due to safety concerns, business discoveries, marketing and logistical considerations. It was not just the informal and micro business segments that had to adapt to survive during one of the most challenging periods in recent history, but also those that relied on manual and face to face transactions. What began as a necessity is now a source of personal income, business, and community growth for India's 6.3 crore micro- and nano-enterprises, which employ over 11 crore people.

India is home to thousands of microenterprise clusters as well as millions of distributed entrepreneurs who can become job creators.(Shutterstock) PREMIUM
India is home to thousands of microenterprise clusters as well as millions of distributed entrepreneurs who can become job creators.(Shutterstock)

Micro-entrepreneurship has been a topic of discussion.

In most dynamic economies, micro-enterprises have been the engines of job growth. India is home to thousands of microenterprise clusters as well as millions of distributed entrepreneurs who can become job creators. Creating such mass entrepreneurship is vital to addressing India's employment challenges. The pandemic prompted many people to go out on their own, pitch to clients and start businesses on their own. Many people began to earn income and contribute to the economy indirectly as a result of individual projects and micro-enterprises.

There are millions of micro-entrepreneurs in India covering a wide area from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, as well as the most remote regions. An enormous country like ours has amazing potential even in remote places, but the challenge is getting there.

First-time internet users and first-time entrepreneurs fill the micro-entrepreneurship landscape, learning business rules the hard way.

India has always had problems with its job market, but as micro-entrepreneurs entered the market, the economy surged. These small businesses were able to gain clients with the help of technology, so they hired a small team of about four to five people to assist them in reaching their goals.

One can glimpse capitalism in its purest form in a developing country. We see a lot of small businesses and homemade entrepreneurs now gradually expanding their scope of work. As they expand, they require more recruits to be added to their team to be able to divide work. Such groups of people work together in small teams, in the sense of owning and operating a business with fewer than five employees, each of these homemade businesspersons is a micro-entrepreneur.

Creator economies are another new market emerging under micro-entrepreneurship. A vast and ever-growing network of social media influencers have contributed greatly to the economy and job market. Influencers create more and more job opportunities for people in various industries such as videography, editing, graphic design and make-up artists.

There is rapid growth in the freelancer/consultant industry. A single graphic designer or content writer may take on a large project for a brand or company. At some point, these entrepreneurs may need to hire more people, but they generally work on their own.

While micro-entrepreneurship has the potential to boost the economy, it also presents its own set of challenges:

As a micro-entrepreneur, access to capital is nearly impossible, especially since angel investors and venture capitalists want to invest in India's next unicorn. It is necessary for these businesses to establish a certain scale to attract funding beyond their first circle of family and friends.

A micro-entrepreneur's reach is limited to their own network of clients, customers, and markets. Accessing potential customers and resources beyond this personal network is a herculean task.

Lack of knowledge of advanced technology: Technology has levelled the playing field. The technology, however, comes at a cost, a high one if it has to be developed internally. Micro-entrepreneurs lack the funds to accomplish this.

Due to their size and power, larger firms have access to everything, leaving micro-entrepreneurs at a huge disadvantage.

In spite of the difficulties above - in access to information, access to skills, and access to money - there is much to be optimistic about. Innovations in technology and business models - created by innovators within large and small firms, indigenous and multinational - are enabling growth. Through their efforts, they are building the soft infrastructure that is needed to drive inclusive growth throughout the world.

India has about 6.3 crore micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), according to India Brand Equity Foundation. Over 90% of them are microenterprises.

Digital technology is driving the fourth revolution that will disrupt almost every industry across the globe. Our world is experiencing an unprecedented convergence of physical, digital and biological spheres as new technologies, materials, and processes blur the line between them. This presents us with significant policy challenges to maintain growth and development.

Since the advent of the internet and changes in the way human resources departments run, we have seen young and hidden talents recruited by foreign-based MNCs and corporates. There is no basic business skill or financial aid available for these entrepreneurs to reach out to bigger and better paying jobs. As technology evolves, these entrepreneurs are spreading their wings far and wide from the comfort of their homes.

The accelerated Internet economy in India presents a real opportunity to support India's micro-entrepreneurs with the same passion as unicorns. The right investment, tools, and support can enable micro-entrepreneurs to create jobs, flip gender indices, and boost the economy.

The article has been authored by Gautam Sinha, cofounder and CEO, CBREX.

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