More than 100 million formal and informal jobs are generated by the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and trade businesses in India.
Technology and innovation have to be more inclusive and focused on uplifting small- and medium-sized businesses, which have a substantial contribution to make, whether it is employment generation or on the country’s social fabric.
More than 100 million formal and informal jobs are generated by the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and trade businesses in India. MSMEs cannot be replaced by larger organised businesses, as it has in the rest of the world.
In India, technological empowerment has grown way faster than income levels because of smartphones, mobile penetration and falling data prices. This means technology companies can create an ecosystem of products to cater to the next segment of customers and empower them with equally competitive tools. So, in a way, timing has played a powerful role.
That is why I believe in the larger opportunity for Bharat 2.0, which Indian technology startups can disrupt. To build for this consumer set, you have to go to markets where there is typically no technology at all, and work grounds up in developing it.
For Udaan, that would mean sitting in those Kirana shops and hubs to experience how commerce is done and identify the pain points. It is equally important to make products that people can actually use. At the end of the day, the impact lies in increasing the scale of business and profits for these SMEs. Our research indicates that the biggest change required to unlock its potential is to offer immediate pricing transparency and deep inventory visibility across the country.
For decades, the retailer or local kirana shop was restricted to his/her local wholesale market and a limited section – credit access was available only on the basis of time period of relationships and supply chain and logistics were constraints.
It would take years for a retailer to nail sourcing and become an expert, but now that this issue is resolved, he can focus solely on increasing income levels. Technology has broken that now.
For instance, using Udaan, retailers can now reach out to the widest selection of manufacturers along with a credit facility. This enables them to expand their business, which in turn, improves economic stature.
By bringing the power of the internet to their main livelihood, we are empowering them to compete on their own terms with the biggest internet and retail companies, in the same way, that the bigger guys end up disrupting in terms of scale, data, analytics, supply chain and credit access.
The maximum traffic on Udaan is between 10 pm and 1 am a testament to how hardworking these SME entrepreneurs are, and an indication that the product we are building suits their requirements.