Ongoing “Year of Enterprises” campaign in the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector in Kerala that managed to achieve target ahead of time has emboldened the State Industries Department to commission a survey to extend the campaign into 2023–2024 as well as find at least 1,000 existing and new units with the required potential for scaling up in phases. 

P Rajeeve, Minister of Industries, told businessline the idea was to handhold each of the 1,000 units to achieve a turnover of ₹100 crore over the next few years and touch a cumulative ₹1,00,00 crore. This could potentially change the face of the domestic economy. The department proposes to deploy the 1,155 interns (MBAs and BTechs) it had recruited to drive the “Year of Enterprises” campaign for conducting the survey. T

Chosen ‘best practice’

These interns were largely responsible for making the campaign for setting up a targeted one lakh new MSME units in 2022-23, which has already been achieved. The campaign had gone on to win accolades as a State-level “best practice” during a meeting of Chief Secretaries in Delhi in the presence of the Prime Minister. The interns had been initially recruited in all local bodies to take the campaign to the grassroots and identify potential entrepreneurs.

According to the minister, the interns had worked really hard by staying in the field three to four days a week, meeting entrepreneurs, and assisting them in all formalities. As an incentive for their dedicated work, they will be offered executive training programmes at the Kerala University of Digital Sciences, Innovation, and Technology (Kerala Digital University). They will now draw on their year-long experience to fan out again across the State for the proposed survey.

Important role of interns

“The interns are also being asked about their individual assessments of the prospects for growth and spread of MSME units in the next year after the current campaign runs its course. It would also mark a shift in strategy as much as it would signal a bottom-up approach. We will plan out next year’s programme on the basis of their ground-level report.”

A state-wide target will be fixed only after hearing out the interns. The state lays maximum emphasis on the strength and health of the MSME network. “In fact, MSMEs are the ideal industrial growth engines for a State like Kerala. They are less polluting, and they don’t need large parcels of land to operate. The employment-to-capital ratio is also higher in this sector,“ the minister said. 

MSME mortality rate

Helping entrepreneurs launch their dream projects as part of the ongoing campaign is only the first step as far as the department is concerned, Rajeeve pointed out. “There is a national survey that says 30 per cent of MSMEs stop operations in the first year of establishment. To avoid such high mortality, we plan to handhold the new enterprises for at least two years,” he added. 

“With this objective, we have set up MSME clinics in all districts where services of management, marketing, technical, and finance experts are available. Any entrepreneur faced with a crisis can approach them to get a collective and considered solution. We also plan to set up common facility centres that can be used by enterprises of similar nature by paying a rent. This will save huge capital investments for advanced equipment in certain industries,” the minister said.