EVEN AS the BJP government decided to make a big pitch to small and medium enterprises during the showpiece ‘Make in India’ week, several entrepreneurs were left unimpressed.
Owners of small enterprises seeking to make high-profile contacts, to pitch with potential investors and learn from each others’ experiences were disappointed with the bureaucratic structure of the session and lack of adequate networking opportunities.
Vikram Mehta, co-founder of Gameveda, a start-up that creates educational content through games said, “As the owner of a start-up, I have attended scores of conferences and seminars, both domestic and international, so much that I have lost count. The ‘Make in India’ event is definitely one of the grandest events in India, but comes with the same typically Indian feature of creating a barrier between important people and others.”
Mehta, who started his company in 2011, was proactively trying to market his company to bureaucrats, senior investors and industrialists, including umping on the dais between speeches or chasing delegates out of the conference hall. “We need to be aggressive at networking here because otherwise, we just don’t have easy accessibility to the people we wish to speak to. All important people are being called directly on stage, and then immediately escorted out. The others, who are not on stage, are sitting on reserved front seats, while we entrepreneurs sit behind,” he added.
Similarly, Amish Purohit, a third-generation entrepreneur, had come for the seminar from Kota, Rajasthan, with the aim of making contacts and gaining knowledge from the perspective of taking his company, Rajendra Engineering Works, public.
“Firstly, there is very little scope for networking. And the more I think about it, the more I feel that I am not getting any of my answers here,” said Purohit, whose firm with an annual turnover of Rs 11 crore, is in the business of setting up plants for manufacturing companies.
As part of the ‘Make in India’ week, the state government had organised a special seminar for small and medium enterprises with a focus on two themes – the role of capital markets in enabling small and medium enterprises effectively be a part of ‘Make in India’ theme, and micro and small industrial clusters. During the seminar, the government also emphasised on a Rs 200-crore fund that it is raising with the Small Industries Development Bank of India to fund start-ups, Rs 50 crore for entrepreneurs from backward classes and another Rs 50 crore for small and medium enterprises in the electronics sector.
While the over 50 entrepreneurs, who attended the event, were looking forward to directly speaking to Industries Minister Subhash Desai and Minister of State Pravin Pote Patil, both the politicians gave the event a miss.
Vishwa Mohan, founder of Nanded-based Analogue Technologies, which provides software-based electrical solutions to other companies, said, “The first session, which was moderated by the chief of business development at the National Stock Exchange (NSE), seemed completely NSE-oriented.”
“The second session seemed more for rural industries. I was really looking for some skills on management expertise. There was also nothing that the state government announced or promised to small and medium enterprises today,” he said.