Saturday, October 1, 2011

Taking the scheme to the doorsteps; Awareness and Promotion Efforts

A radio jingle as part of the promotional efforts of the scheme was recently launched on FM channels in select cities. This interesting radio jingle of 30 seconds duration developed in hindi  - “lambi race ka ghoda” - was aired on 26th, 27th and 28th September 2011. The jingle is so developed to reach out to various micro and small scale industry owners in cities and smaller towns of the country, and convey the message of the need for design for value addition and long term growth of their business. The analysis of DCS website suggests manifold increase of visits to the website during these three days.
A short film describing the benefits of the scheme and its different components, and another film of the duration of 10 minutes, describing the benefits of design to the MSME industries, are now ready. Also an animation film is being developed to convey the message of design and the benefits of the scheme to the participants. These films will be used during various seminars and workshops organized as part of the scheme, as well as part of promotional material during various events and exhibitions.
While the Design Clinic Scheme aims to create awareness of design amongst the MSME industries, promotion and creating awareness about the scheme among all its various stakeholders in itself formed the first major challenge for the implementation team to take up. Taking design to the doorsteps of the needy MSME units is the unique feature of the scheme and also one of its main objectives.  Since the scheme launch, various different mediums are thus being vigorously explored to reach out to over 26 million MSME units spread across the country. The three different component of the scheme as developed with a view to create handholding support of design to the MSME industries demands reaching out to both the industry associations as well as to the individual MSME units. Two of the three components of the scheme demands MSME contribution for their participation, and thus the promotional activity need to go beyond just awareness creation to that of individual and regular discussions and facilitation to convince them of the benefits of design as well as the scheme.
Advertisements are regularly placed in various national and regional newspapers throughout the country as well as in different industry magazines and periodicals. The team members regularly participate in various MSME industry specific fairs and industry meets through displays and/or presentations on scheme. Information brochures are distributed to the interested members at the railway stations and display kiosks have been placed at the airports. Different sections of the media, from both the regional as well as national level, are regularly covering the events organized as part of the scheme and thereby helping us take the message of design to the industries. 
Team members from the scheme’s five regional centers are constantly reaching out to industries through direct contacts, through regular emails and phone calls and through personal meetings and industry visits. They have been constantly developing and building up their database of the interested industry participants. Various MSME District offices, MSME DIs, and District Industry centers, DICs at the state and regional level are supporting us and facilitating our regional centers to reach out to different MSME industry clusters and industries. Liaison officers have been appointed in few of the select cities and they have also been supporting the regional centers to reach out to the industries. Besides these efforts, the institute has also tied up with various national and regional apex industry associations and organizations to help us take this unique design intervention scheme to the needy MSME associations and industries. CII, FICCI, FISME, PHD chamber of Commerce, Foundation of MSMEs, HCCI, Kolkota, MCED, Aurngabad, CTTC, Bhubneshwar, IIE, Guwahati are some of the apex bodies and organizations helping us in this process.  
To explain the scheme in detail to its various stakeholders including members of industry association, government organizations, designers, MSME unit owners etc., orientation programmes are organized in major cities, as part of the scheme promotion activity. So far 10 such orientation programmes have been successfully organized and another 11 orientation programmes are scheduled. These orientation programmes while help promote the scheme, they also help explain and discuss the scheme in detail with the stakeholders, and answer specific queries of the participants.
Over the last one and half years, various design awareness seminars, design awareness programmes and design projects have been successfully completed in various parts of the country. A Showcase Design Exhibition was planned to exhibit these achievements on 29th June 2011, on the occasion of World Industrial Design Day, at NID, Ahmedabad. The achievements of the targets and especially the design project outcomes were a major convincing factor for the MSME industries. Along with the exhibition of these outcomes, a seminar was also organized, were the designers made case study presentations of their projects undertaken as part of the scheme. Based on the first showcase design event at Ahmedabad, second showcase design event was planned at Delhi on 29th August 2011. It was interesting and heartening to see and hear both the designer- the service provider, and the MSME unit owner, the beneficiary of the design intervention, together explain and demonstrate the benefits of the scheme.  Based on these success and experiences so gained, both the orientation programme and the showcase design exhibition are now combined and first such event is now being organized at Hydrabad on 13th October 2011. The orientation programme is arranged in collaboration with FISME, on similar line as the other orientation programmes that were organized in collaboration with other apex organizations.
The scheme aims to create a platform for the MSME units and the designers, for their constant interactions. Thus similar efforts have parallaly been made by the team to reach out to the entire design fraternity of the country. Designers are contacted through individual and group emails, direct phone calls and groups meetings are organized in various cities to meet, explain and discuss the scheme details. Designers, also being important stakeholders as service providers of the scheme, regular contacts have been established to understand and address their concerns and expectations from the scheme. They have been constantly facilitated and encouraged to utilize this important opportunity to be part of a major capability building exercise for the nation to help MSMEs move up the value chain from OEM industries to ODM industries. The implementation team is reaching out to design consultants, design firms, design institutes and the design students to explain the scheme details and help them join and empanel with the scheme.
Due to these continuous and vigorous efforts by all the members of the implementation team we have been able to reach out to majority of the MSME associations and clusters of the country. Within the last one and half years, since the launch of the scheme, 153 design awareness seminars have been completed, around 50 design awareness programme are in various stages of their progress and the scheme has received 88 project proposals. These programmes have been organized in 22 states of the country covering around 20 industry sectors. Over 650 designers (including design institutes and design students), 145 industry associations (over and above the apex organizations) and around 400 MSME units have registered with the scheme by now.  The scheme website forms the base for these registration and information sharing.  All the empanelled members are regularly updated with the scheme progress as well as the opportunities through weekly emails sent from the scheme secretariat. Regular feedbacks are received from the members and the scheme is constantly refined and revised based on these feedback and experiences.
These efforts have helped us create awareness of the scheme among both the MSME units and associations as well as among the design fraternity from across the country. The secretariat and the regional offices have been receiving good response and requests for organizing design awareness seminars for different clusters and associations.
While these efforts of promotion will continue, the implementation team is now gearing up to take up its next challenge to create and develop platform for constant dialogue and discussion amongst these empanelled industries and designers and  identify design  opportunity areas for their further collaboration to improve products and processes.  Considering the need for these interactions at local level, we are exploring all different possibilities to create opportunities for individual as well as group interactions. The design awareness programme, the second component of the scheme is developed keeping in mind this objective, for the designer to interact at individual level/ MSME unit and discuss and identify the opportunity areas. The implementation team’s efforts are thus focused now to encourage industries to participate in these programmes. The team members are now reaching out to individual industry units for this purpose.  Also a separate section is now allotted on the scheme website where the interested industry can display their design requirements. Interested designers can thus directly approach the industry.  The project proposal thus developed through mutual agreement and understanding may then be routed through the scheme for financial support, if requuired. This initiative has received good response and we have now over 15 such requests online.
As mentioned earlier, the scheme aims to develop continuing interactions amongst its various stakeholders and the implementation team being one of the important functionaries to develop these relationships, the team has to constantly demonstrate its sincerity and commitment through its various interactions with the stakeholders. All the sections of the scheme secretariat need to be thus agile and efficient to quickly respond to the inquiries and requests from the stakeholders. We are thus constantly working on stream-lining the support system for efficient response and facilitation throughout the entire process, including pre-event/project as well as post-event/project demands.
The scheme thus has been providing a continuing journey for all its team members to learn, experience and improve at each stage of its implementation.

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