AN EXTENSIVE exercise to map the large number of small & medium enterprises (SME) clusters in the country is likely to begin soon. The department of industrial policy & promotion (Dipp) has approached Unido — the UN agency for promoting economic development in developing countries — to map SME clusters in the country with the primary objective of better realisation of their export potential. Unido might turn the exercise into a more exhaustive one by roping in statistical organisations NSSO and the CSO, and gathering data for other interested parties like the Small Industries Development Bank of India (Sidbi).
Speaking to ET, Unido South Asia regional office head Philippe Scholtes said that the DIPP had recently approached it to carry out the project. The level of ambition of the project was yet to be determined. “We will identify clusters all over the country, look at the products that are being manufactured and also identify the markets where they are being sold,” he said. Once the exercise of data collection begins, Unido could expand its objectives depending on the institutions that want to use the data, Mr Scholtes said.
Sidbi is already in talks with Unido about how the mapping can help the bank in its objectives of getting to understand the financial requirements of the SME segment. “Sidbi wants to see if it could use our survey to find out more about how SME clusters source their fund,” Mr Scholtes said. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) and the Industrial Standard Organisation are also interested in the exercise. “The BEE wants to understand the pattern on energy consumption in SMEs,” he said. At the moment, there is not much data available on Indian SMEs.
Unido plans to build on the existing data collected by the NSSO and the CSO by employing field workers to collect data on various aspects of SME clusters including production and employment. “I have prepared a project plan which has been submitted to the DIPP for approval,” Mr Scholtes said.
Unido is also open for roping in the NSSO and the CSO in the exercise to take advantage of the institutions’ experience and workforce.