Troubles come in droves not in drops. This seems to be the predicament of SMEs who are desperate to kickstart their industries after a debilitating lockdown which has lasted for well over six weeks. Add to this the spike in COVID 19 cases in the big cities and now with migrant workers having headed back to their villages; rural India too, is witnessing huge spikes. However, even as SMEs are spluttering back to life, there is a huge shortfall of labor to contend with, in the immediate present. Some larger SMEs have opened their purse strings and are wooing back workers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, for both export units as well as real estate companies. These companies have offered chartered flights to bring back their key skilled workforce. However, the problem that most smaller companies face is not addressed in the MSME stimulus package announced by the government.
Many small players say that in the absence of direct subsidies they can do little to turn to banks unless their finances are in order. Paying employee wages has further depleted their resources. In this no-win situation, small companies are fighting hard to stay afloat. Capital intensive engineering firms say that even if they are offered e-commerce platforms like the government has offered, will do little to generate demand. Service sector SMEs are in a still worse predicament. If they are to take the help of technology and virtual reality to redesign their business model, it calls for infusing money which is hard to come by, in the absence of direct funding from the government. At the moment, there doesn’t seem like there is any light at the end of the tunnel, but mind you, SMEs are not willing to throw in the towel, yet.
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