How local firms are adding value to SMEs in Andheri East

The Economic Times,

MUMBAI: There are numerous local companies that have cropped up in Andheri East providing varied services – from website development to transport/logistics and others – to small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs). This is helping regional SMEs scale up their business.

The SME sector here is largely dominated by manufacturing enterprises. However, since these are unregistered enterprises, they face severe problems when it comes to exposure, labour, technology, managing finances, human resources etc.

It’s a proven fact that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) serve as the backbone of the Indian economy. Thriving with about 6000 SMEs, Andheri East is the SME hub of Mumbai.

Global Impex Service in Andheri East deals with logistics of various kinds for the micro and small and medium enterprises for last 10 years. “We have a plethora of existing clientele who have specific needs and requirements,” said Santosh Raikar, senior executive officer of Global Impex. “We act as middlemen between companies and authorities for helping with different export and import issues and take care of complete logistics.”

On being asked as to how SMEs come to know about them, Raikar says, “Our clients give our reference to others and they come to us. We take care of their complete logistics. We charge them as per the company’s potential.”

LABOUR PAIN

Labour is a major problem being faced by SMEs, which is resulting in the increasing gap between demand and supply. As per media reports, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act ( MNREGA) is pulling unskilled labour back into Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which is causing havoc for SME sector in West India.

Coming to rescue SMEs are some people who work as labour consultants and network to procure labourers and skilled workers. Rajiv Parihar, a business consultant for SMEs since last eight years, based out of Jogeshwari, recently veered his consultancy into procuring labourers for SMEs.

“It has been noticed that SMEs were facing severe skilled labour shortage due to various government schemes and other reasons. I primarily work as a logistic consultant but since I saw what the small and medium businesses are going through, I ventured into labour procurement for them.”

IT MATTERS

Another service that SMEs are making full use of is website development to get increasing online presence. Being in business for over a decade in Andheri, Sudhakar Panchal was surprised when a small business establishment came to him, three years ago, asking for his assistance. “After I made a website for them, we worked out plans for search engine optimisation, search engine marketing, social media marketing and listing the company on B2B marketplaces. Once it was done, not only did they get good business, they brought me more clients,” he recalls.

He adds, “Today I am into SEO consultation also. I provide direction and guidance to the SMEs on how people interested in a particular product and service can use search engines to find what they are looking for, and how the company can top these searches.”

On the Andheri East-effect, Panchal says, “I have about 50 clients who are based out of Andheri. The owners want to know about the latest techniques in advertising and marketing and want to check what model suits their establishment. I would say SMEs in Andheri East are much more aware than others I have worked with.”

Nowadays SMEs prefer having pay per click (PPC) advertising. “PPC is an attractive way to lure visitors through a website. We create a link to site of the SME and make it appear next to search results. One’s business stands a good chance of getting noticed this way,” Panchal said.

Initially he had to convince SMEs on the power of having a website. Now, he gets about 5-8 clients a month apart from the existing ones. He adds that as per the current market rates, the company’s profile and depending on the design and maintenance, the charges are anywhere between Rs 7,000 and Rs 25,000.

CONNECTING PEOPLE

Owner of 25-year-old Bharathiya Plastic Products based out of Andheri-Kurla road, Naresh Ahuja says that when it comes to SMEs, they look for transport services to ferry their goods. “Many establishments that exist in Andheri East are those that help SMEs in transporting their goods.”

According to media reports, DHL, the multinational courier and logistics services company in India, has shifted its focus on tapping the cast SME market in the country.

Reports say, there are many big firms working or partnering with SMEs in providing them various complimentary services. For example, telecom giant Bharti Airtel recently announced to offer cloud-computing services to SMEs in partnership with Microsoft India.

Similarly Jade Magnet, a website ad agency in Bangalore along with Kuliza and Amazon is providing customised websites at Rs 15,000 a year to SMEs.

On the same lines, a B2B marketplace, IndiaMART.com has free online catalogs of over 6 lakh SMEs, with about 12 lakh SMEs listed on its platform. Apart from this, it also provides free information on tenders, trade shows, different schemes etc, along with helping them in establishing their credibility via third party.

Panchal says that looking at how SMEs are becoming more and more aware of technology and its potential, as far as websites and Internet image is concerned, the business is going to increase in future. “Three years ago, even with a lot of convincing, I used to get only about 2-3 clients, who were not willing to shell out money. Now, SMEs come to me and are willing to pay the right amount for representing them online.”

He added that he is contemplating adding television and radio advertising for SMEs to his company’s portfolio.

Parihar says there is great potential in complimentary services for SMEs. “Whether it is managing logistics, HR or online representation, SMEs today have understood the perks of having professionals involved with their day to day routine. This is a symbiotic relationship that is going to increase for good.”