The micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which have borne the maximum brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic, should learn to embrace digital technologies not only to stay in business but also to emerge competitive in the post-Covid world, a senior Central government official said.

“MSMEs and start-ups have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 disruption in India. We have seen the devastating impact of the lockdown on the MSMEs as they have to completely shut down their units producing non-essential goods and labours returning to their homes compounded the problem further,” said Rajendra Kumar, Additional Secretary of Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeITY).

MSMEs have to learn to live with the impact of pandemic for some more time to come, Kumar said, “The one way forward for MSMEs as we come out of lockdown is to transform the way they function to be able to continue to produce goods and services during this time.”

He was delivering an address at a webinar titled ‘Incubation Conclave - Lockdown and Beyond’ organised to commemorate the launch of FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) Chennai Chapter’s incubation cell.

Highlighting the various measures taken by the government and financial institutions to support MSMEs to recover and restart operations, Kumar said that other stakeholders like institutions and academia should also come forward to help MSMEs come back on their feet.

Citing the example of the IT sector, which has shifted to work-from-home model, the senior bureaucrat said adopting these technologies will not only allow MSMEs to reduce onsite labours but also help them to control their process digitally.

Later, in a free-wheeling discussion with IIT Madras professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Cognizant Technologies Co-Founder Lakshmi Narayanan cited American investor Bill Gross’ survey to highlight five essential elements such as Timing, Team, Idea, Business model and Funding, required for every entrepreneur to succeed.

Highlighting the need to get the business timing right, Narayanan said, “Of the five elements analysed in the Bill Gross’ survey, timing contributed 42 per cent of the success of a business followed by factors like Team and Idea while funding was the last factor.”

Airbnb and Uber, which were started during the recession are some of the best examples of this factor, he added.

Narrating the real-life experience of an aspiring woman entrepreneur whom he mentored, professor Jhunjhunwala said, the entrepreneur, after struggling with an idea for more than a year left the business just before it actually started to grow and show the signs of her efforts.

“To me ‘the idea’ matters less. The key thing is are you ready to work extremely hard, are you ready to fail and the most important thing is that you should be prepared to fail over and over again,” Jhunjhunwala added.