Monday, April 9, 2012

…..receiving encouraging support

The Scheme is receiving encouraging response and good support from various different quarters of government and industries. The Directorate of Micro & Small Scale Enterprises, Government of West Bengal has come forward to support organization of Design Awareness Programmes, DAPs, for 29 MSME clusters in the state of West Bengal. The DAP, the second component of the Design Clinic Scheme, expects 25% contribution from the stakeholders for organizing these programmes. The Government of West Bengal will be reimbursing this portion of the contribution on behalf of the participating MSME clusters from the state. This support will help large numbers of micro and small scale industries from these MSME clusters and their owners from the state of West Bengal, to interact with designers and experts to discuss and explore various design opportunities and develop on-the-spot solutions to improve their processes, products, communications, work environment, tools & equipment etc., thereby creating significant value addition in their existing businesses with minimum changes and/or investments.  This will be a major support especially for the micro and small-scale industries, many of which require refinement and improvements of their existing set-ups, products and processes, more then new designs. Those micro and small-scale industries, finding it difficult to contribute their share, will be able to test the benefits of design through this support.  The MSME clusters ranging from plastic products and components, fan manufacturers, shoe making industry cluster, brass and bell metal products and component industries, gems & jewelry units etc. from across the state of West Bengal will benefit design through interactions and workshops organized as part of the programme.  MSME Department, Government of Odisha, has likewise expressed their interest to explore similar possibilities to contribute the participants’ share to organize DAPs for different MSME clusters in the state of Odisha.

Recently, a DAP has been completed at Lucknow, UP, as part of the scheme, for the micro and small-scale industries based footwear cluster. The programme was organized by the Kalatmak Hendicrafts SHG Foundation, KHSHG Foundation, working for these industries for last many years. The programme was supported by SIDBI, Small Industries Development Bank of India. KHSHG Foundation had approached SIDBI for the required 25% contribution on behalf of the participants to organize this programme. Most of the participants were exposed to design for the first time. Through their interaction with the designers and the experts, as well as their interactions within the groups formed, many new solutions/ directions emerged to improve their workspaces, hygienic conditions, to reduce energy consumption, to understand user requirements and markets etc. The exposure to design approach helped instill that much needed confidence, positivity and motivation amongst the participants to improve their businesses.  

Similarly Foundation for MSMEs, Delhi and PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industries are both organizing DAPs for the clusters with whom they have been working. Both the organizations are expected to organize about 20 DAPs each in different MSME clusters across the country. Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship, IIE, Guwahati has already organized DAPs in 15 different clusters from across North East region.

The clinic based approach to offer on the spot implementable design solutions for the units to test the benefits of design, is a unique approach most appropriate to the country’s large micro small and medium scale industries. The support to the scheme as described above, from state government/s, bank/s and industry associations is really laudable as it will help bring the designers and experts to the doorsteps of these much needy micro and small scale industries, many of which at this stage, as mentioned earlier, are hesitant or finding it difficult to contribute. This support would certainly help develop the platform for design initiation, design intervention and continuous design support for the MSME units to improve their products and processes to compete in today’s markets as well as and importantly, improve the working conditions and thereby quality of life of the people involved. 

Many of the opportunities / problems would call for long duration design intervention that may be taken up by the designer/s as design project/s. The scheme supports design projects to the individual MSME units, group of MSME units and/or to the MSME cluster. 60% of the design project expenditure is reimbursed through the scheme. UNIDO has been working with different MSME clusters across the country and has come forward to support 50% share of the beneficiary contribution (20% of the project expenditure) for the design projects undertaken by the member MSME units of these clusters. These will certainly encourage many of the MSME units to test the benefits of design projects, the end deliverables of which will be the prototype of new design/s.

This unique design intervention scheme is developed to cater to the needs and demands of country’s most important and one of the largest and heterogeneous industry sector that includes micro, small and medium scale industries. The encouraging support received from different government organizations, banks and other industry associations the ones who have been working with these clusters for many years and have understood their needs, will help us reach out to those most needy industries while also strengthening the resolve of the implementation team.