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India SME Forum and FIRST to host e-commerce digitization drive for MSMEs in West Bengal

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India SME Forum (ISF), a non-profit, non-governmental association representing small and medium enterprises in India, is hosting a first-of-its-kind digitization drive for retailers and sellers in Kolkata, which has the highest density of MSMEs in West Bengal. This initiative, in collaboration with Forum for Internet Retailers, Sellers, and Traders (FIRST), is aimed at creating awareness and supporting small businesses from across India on the opportunities that will help them go digital and become self-reliant. As part of the initiative, trade leaders from West Bengal will have the opportunity to interact with DPIIT and present the challenges faced by the MSMEs in the state.

Speaking on this initiative, Mr. Vinod Kumar, President, India SME Forum, said, “ISF-FIRST is entering into an MoU with Confederation of West Bengal Trade Association (CWBTA) to support their constituent organisations and member base, helping navigate and expand opportunities while also enabling a conducive ecosystem for MSMEs.” He further added, “This is one of the largest digitization drives for MSMEs in West Bengal. We are looking to have healthy representation of our MSMEs from West Bengal in FIRST, which can help solve challenges being faced by them in the region. We believe solving the challenges of MSMEs in the state will help them leverage the $7 bn e-commerce opportunity. Normally, West Bengal accounts for 10% of trade volumes, hence this initiative will be very critical for MSMEs to future proof their business by creating sustainable models that increase competitiveness and profitability.”

The performance of MSMEs in any particular region largely depends upon its business environment and commitment towards promotion of inclusive growth.  The number of MSME clusters in the state of West Bengal have been steadily rising. Currently, there are 90 lakh MSME units based in the state, employing 1.36 crore people. While the state government is playing a pivotal role in advancing their growth, there is still an increasing need to enhance ease of doing business with special reference to their digital transformation, online registration process, raising of finances, as well as compliances with various regulatory obligations for MSMEs would help grow their business in a sustainable manner.

Today, lots of entrepreneurs are not connected with the government and the government is also unaware of their needs. With ISF’s initiative, MSMEs from the state will get exposed to large-scale digitization for the first time ever, and have their voices heard at a national level. The initiative will educate sellers about the requirements for starting to sell online, such as registration, documentation, listing, pricing, packaging, shipping, and so on. Entrepreneurs can also bring their products and receive professional assistance and guidance on how to take attractive and professional product images, which will help them grab the interest of customers and help sellers for onboarding on various e-commerce platforms.

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