A FORMIDABLE FORCE

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Most micro and small Indian businesses have limited resources; however, their sheer numbers (“63 million businesses per 2021 report”) make MSMEs a formidable force.


Thus, any contribution made by small businesses towards society and sustainable living can create an incredible impact both on the national and global stage.

There is a general perception that large corporates with deep pockets can create a meaningful impact on sustainable development and corporate social responsibility.

I explore with a panel of guests can MSME be a formable force. Can B2B transactions among MSMEs be linked to Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility? Why is it essential to educate MSMEs about social contributions? Do MSMEs have the resources to be a force in social development?

The Indian Micro, Small & Medium Enterprise (MSME) sector is the “second-largest employer after agriculture.” This sector contributes “45 percent of the total employment opportunities”. Moreover, it accounts for “50 per cent of total exports & 29 per cent of the total country’s GDP”, thus, making it the mainstay of the Indian economy. Globally MSMEs.

According to the MSME Economic Indicator* 2019 report, “the 77 economies where data is available, 322 million formal MSMEs are employing almost 72 per cent of private-sector employees.

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The contribution of MSMEs to the well-being of the global economy's, corporate social responsibility and in promoting sustainable living has earned it a special day on the international Calendar - The International MSME Day - marked on 27 June. During the lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic, people, companies, organisations & countries came forward in support of each other. Similarly, Indian MSMEs too stepped up to support, within their limited resource, to fulfil their social responsibilities Shree Gajanand industries, an MSME, is a leading rice mill in Nizamabad district of Telangana state in India. The company supports various programs, including sustainable farming, entrepreneurship, and cattle care, under its corporate social responsibility funding program. Ravish Bhimani, a second-generation entrepreneur and the CFO at Shree Gajanan Industries, says that his company's CSR initiatives are in sync with its founding principle. Which is "wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it; Right is right even if no one is doing it." According to Rajesh Khosla, President & CEO at AGI Glas PAC, "Sustainability is a part of business it is not an additional activity" to a business or an industry. Khosla further adds that MSMEs like AGI Glas PAC take steps to become carbon neutral or, at a minimum, reduce carbon footprint through environmental-friendly projects and measures. Under the Indian CSR Guidelines, companies "with an annual turnover of 1,000 crore INR and more, or a net worth of 500 crore INR and more, or a net profit of five crore INR and more" are required to "spend two per cent of their average profits of the previous three years on CSR activities every year." Such financial guidelines have not stopped entrepreneurs likes Dayanand Reddy, Managing Director & Founder of Vasantha Tool Crafts, from supporting social causes. Vasanth, through its CSR funds, has been supporting schools in Dayanands home town. And, during the covid second wave, Reddy used CSR funds to purchase critical covid care equipment for a local government hospital. "we want to give back to the society and all possible ways", says Dayanand. According to Rajesh, it is vital to educate microbusinesses & startups, some of whom will be the large companies of the future, about CSR and sustainability. The small contributions from MSMEs together can have an accumulated impact. Thus, Khosla recommends forming "a common pool" where companies, especially micro and small companies, can contribute their funds to undertake CSR and sustainability projects. Most micro and small Indian businesses have limited resources; however, their sheer numbers ("63 million entities per 2021 report") make them a formidable force. Thus, any contribution made by small businesses towards society and sustainable living can create an incredible impact both on the national and global stage.