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Wednesday, Mar 24, 2004

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Kochi, UK agencies in pact to offer consultancy to SMEs

G.K. Nair

Kochi , March 23

THE Institute of Small Enterprises Development (ISED) and BESO, an international developmental agency in UK, that offers professional expertise to entrepreneurs and firms around the world have joined hands to help organisations, which cannot afford commercial consultants.

Globalisation has enhanced the need for high quality professional services in all economic activities, according to the ISED Director, Dr P.M. Mathew.

`Governments do not and cannot often provide any such services. We need to buy it from the market. But, professional services are costly.

The problem is very acute in the case of small and medium enterprisesas they need business development services in areas such as, quality control, marketing, enhancing capacity of staff, design, sub-contracting relationships, enhancing of productivity, etc.,' he said.

For SMEs, access to any source of comprehensive business development services today is limited. The small entrepreneur is one person who cannot afford many consultants such as a chartered accountant, a technical guide and a marketing man.

He needs first of all, some body, who understands his firm, and can offer suggestions in a holistic manner, Mr Mathew told Business Line.

Such services may or may not be available within the country. But sourcing such services, itself, is a difficult task. It requires scientifically structured mechanisms, which provide services.

The Kochi-based ISED and the UK-based BESO partnership proposes to offer such a platform, he said.

The ISED is a centre for advanced learning and practice, in industrial development with thrust on SMEs.

The institute's mission is to advance the theory and practice of development, and especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), among enterprises, policy makers, international partners, media, and other practitioners.

In doing so, the institute provides a vehicle for an examination of policy, introspection on development experience, evolution of appropriate strategies and demonstration of methodological innovations, he said.

Having more than 3,500 experts in its register, the BESO can offer their services as short-term advisors.

The BESO experts called `volunteers' are available for short assignments, ranging from less than two weeks to four months. BESO provides the services of skilled personnel. It does note provide funds or capital equipments, he said.

Its thrust of assistance in Asia and the Pacific is to develop self-sufficiency by creating employment and incomes, he added.

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