India SME Forum, with the support of MSME Ministry, has launched a programme to showcase export opportunities for MSMEs across the country.

At present, the number of SMEs participating in exports is 1.27 lakh and the government proposes to increase the number to five lakh and double their export output, said Vinod Kumar, president, India SME Forum.

In spite of the government’s focus on SMEs and exports, less than 0.01 per cent of 65 million SMEs in the country currently participate in global trade, Kumar said. India SME Forum has decided to train around four lakh SMEs for exports in the next four years, he added.

Speaking at Accelerating Business Xpo, the first of its kind initiative in Kochi, Kumar said SMEs contribute 11 per cent of the GDP, 45 per cent of total manufacturing output and more than 100 million jobs. They also play a crucial role in supporting large enterprises as ancillary units and even help in promoting industry in rural and backward areas. A vibrant and financially inclusive India needs a vibrant SME sector, he added.

However, the barriers are many such as lack of reliable data on overseas markets, inability to contact potential overseas customers, unfamiliarity with export rules, procedures and documentation, lack of trained export staff for trade facilitation, difficulty in identifying foreign business opportunities, insufficient access to export finance etc. Some of the barriers are about perception, and some related to lack of knowledge and information. Holistic and end-to-end global trade solution for SMEs is also lacking, he added.

Formed in May 2011 with the objective of propelling a small and medium business movement across the country, India SME Forum has over 76,000 members, including 7,000 women entrepreneurs.