Wednesday, May 22, 2013

MSMEs Awaiting Designers...

With its core objective of creating and encouraging symbiotic relationship between the MSMEs and the designers, the Design Clinic Scheme for MSMEs is expected to create platform for constant and continuous interaction between these two important stakeholders. The scheme website plays critical role towards achieving this goal.
Scheme Website - a Repository of Information
Over 900 MSME units, 200  MSME associations and various industry apex bodies and govt. and non-govt. organisations associated with MSMEs, and over 1000 designers, design firms, design students and different design institutes have registered with the scheme. The website provides easy access for all the stakeholders to register with the scheme online. The website is thus today forming into a good repository of these data - the   comprehensive list - for the benefits and easy exchange of information for the MSMEs and  for the designers. Detailed guidelines, formats, information brochure, scheme presentations, and other related promotional material are available on the website, that can be downloaded to organise any of the programme as part of the scheme. Also, the website houses reports and outcomes of various seminars, workshops and projects (both the professional as well as student projects) undertaken through scheme support. Project proposals can be submitted online and their status/ progress can also be tracked online. Its online evaluation system helps get these proposals evaluated quickly and efficiently, by the subject experts from around the country. The website thus has today become a good source of information, knowledge sharing and reference for its stakeholders. Various news, schedules of upcoming programmes etc. are regularly updated and announced through the website. The E-newsletter shares experiences and new developments periodically.  While helping the implementing team to efficiently connect and serve its stakeholders, the scheme website is helping us build the much needed trust and transparency of operations.

The first two components of the scheme, that are the design awareness seminar, DAS and the design awareness programme, DAP are group activities and thus are organised normally with the support of the local industry associations, industry apex bodies,  govt. or non govt. organisations working with the specific MSME clusters etc.  However the design projects, one of the important and the major component of the scheme, are normally taken up by the individual or group of MSME units. Scheme reimburses 60% of the design project cost for the professional design projects and 75% of the student design project cost. The scheme targets to support over 400 design projects. It is thus important to take the scheme to the individual MSME units. And majority of these MSMEs in India are located in and around smaller cities, towns and villages spread across the country.

Variety of different options and approaches are thus explored to reach out to the MSME units / its owners at individual level so as to discuss and explain to them the benefits of design as well as the details of the scheme.  While awareness is being created through regular advertisements in newspapers, magazines, newsletters of industry associations etc., the implementation team also takes part in different industry sector specific exhibitions and events organised across the country. Showcase design programmes are organised to demonstrate the outcomes of the scheme. Liaison officers are appointed in different cities to help the implementation team connect to the needy MSMEs. Field executives from the implementation team regularly travel to different places and meet the owners and members of MSMEs individually and at their convenience.

Status as on November 2012
In the last six months or so, the three field executives from the west zone center traveled to more than 60 cities / towns and contacted over 1000 MSME units in West and North Zones and obtained over 300 design briefs from the industries. It is an arduous task to convince the MSMEs to explore the benefits of design. Majority of the MSMEs being component manufacturers and first time users of design may not be in a position to clearly identify their design requirements. They also may not have any contacts with the designer/s. And majority of the designers in India are based in few major cities only. Connecting these MSMEs to designers to interact and explore the scope for design and design projects is thus a difficult challenge for the scheme.
MSMEs Awaiting Designers - the web-space for the MSME units to express  interest to explore  the scope of design  for his/her specific unit
‘MSMEs Awaiting Designers’   a space created on the scheme website, for the MSMEs looking to explore the scope for design interventions with the designers, is a unique feature of the website. The space provide the opportunity to the MSMEs to display and advertise their expression of interests to explore the scope for design intervention for the specific MSME unit, which can then be directly replied / contacted by the interested designer/s from across the country.  The MSME thus can get to explore his/her design project/s with the designers/ design firms from different parts of the country before finalizing with the best suited designer/ design firm. This unique feature of the scheme website is thus contributing in a big way to connect the designers to the interested MSME units to explore and work together to improve their products and process and thus move up the value chain. While Siddhant Industries, a Kolkata based MSME unit could explore his design need with the designers from Ahmedabad, Pune, Bangalore and Delhi all of whom called the MSME, before finalizing with one of the design firm, the Ambala based MSME unit could connect with the design firm based in Ahmedabad to develop project proposal and take up the design project through the scheme support. Most of these MSMEs, without this support to connect with the designer/s, probably would not have explored design.  The web-space is now an active platform of continuous interaction between the designers and the MSMEs with over 300 design briefs uploaded at this stage. The format for the project brief, kept as a simple information page for the MSME units, is available on the website.

The implementation team over the last three years, have been exploring variety of different options, mediums, models to take design to the doorsteps of the needy MSMEs, to realize the core objective of the scheme to help these MSMEs move up the value chain. This unique feature developed by the project implementation team here at NID,  led by Jitendra Singh Rajput is proving to be one of the successful intervention model towards realizing the scheme objectives.