Express News Service
KOCHI: The time seems right for the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the state to flourish. Though the pandemic had dealt a blow to many MSMEs, many are making a comeback. There are some new players in the field, and many are making the most of the state government’s goal of setting up one lakh MSMEs. Those who have the right business idea would get a chance to try their hand at entrepreneurship. Setting a stage for this is ‘Vyapar 2022’, a three-day event launched on Thursday at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium, at Kaloor.
The business-to-business meet would see about 350 entrepreneurs striking partnerships with 500 buyers from across the country. Industries Minister P Rajeeve, who inaugurated the meet, believes Kerala is emerging towards meeting its one-lakh target in the current financial year, with 13,137 MSMEs registering in the first two-and-a-half months of the fiscal.
Growth in the MSME sector means increasing job opportunities. “So far, MSMEs have brought in an investment of Rs 982.73 crore and given jobs to 30,698 people this fiscal,” Rajeeve notes. “The sustained efforts to strengthen MSMEs have led to the recruitment of 1,155 interns at the panchayat level to train entrepreneurs. A big chunk of them hold MBA degrees,” the minister adds. “It has become easy to set up MSMEs in the state. Two recent laws have helped a lot.”
Vyapar, which will see around 10,000 B2B meetings, was one of the steps conceptualized to boost Kerala as a prime business destination in India, says Rajeeve. The minister also reveals that KINFRA has been working on a permanent exhibition-cum-convention center in the city. Envisaged to be completed in October 2023, the project is coming up in suburban Kakkanad, he adds.
Focal sectors at Vyapar
The key areas are food processing (food and spices); handlooms, textiles and garments (fashion design and furnishing products); rubber and coir; Ayurveda and herbal products (cosmetics and nutraceuticals); electrical and electronics; and traditional, creative offerings such as hand-carved goods, handloom textiles and bamboo-based items.
When hobby turns into business
As one walks into Vyapar 2022, a stall with dainty vessels, candle-stands, lamp-shades, spoons and planters catches the eye. Coco Crafters is a seven-month-old business venture born out of one of the three founders’ passion for making artifacts using coconut shells.
“I enjoy the process of turning coconut shells into showpiece items. I fell in love with these poor shells at a very young age,” says Santhosh R, who has been featured in the India Book of Records for making a cradle out of coconut shells. “Give me a few pieces now, and I would happily craft interesting things for you.”
Santhosh says the idea of turning this passion into a business venture was the brainchild of a childhood friend, Shiyas Rahim. “We invited another friend, Sarath Sisupalan, who was also into making crafts using coconut shells and other materials.”
Shiyas adds that Coco Crafters has become a source of income for many homemakers at Veliyam in Kollam. “We collect coconut shells from the households in our area and pay the women Rs 5 per shell. We also collect shells from a unit run by women that makes chutney powder,” he says. Though the trio have managed to attract some dedicated customers, they believe meets such as Vyapar would help expand their reach to other parts of India.
Women empowerment through mural art
The word ‘mural’ elicits the picture of beautiful paintings and motifs on the walls of a temple or an art gallery. Artists Sujith and his wife Surya, who run Bhavm Murals at Kalpetta in Wayanad, saw a larger picture — of a business model. “We are a team of 15, including my wife and myself,” says Sujith who started Bhavm at a small workshop in 2008.
“Making and selling murals is something many have been doing. However, these murals are mostly confined to the galleries, or can be afforded only by the elite,” he says. “We thought of making value-added products using murals.” Soon, the team started making products such fridge magnets, and craft made of bamboo and other natural materials. “All these products have murals on them,” says Sujith.
Grabbing global attention with snacks
It has been nearly 25 years since Elavarasi P Jayakanth started a traditional snack venture. She is the ‘proud owner’ of Aswathy Hot Chips, which started off as a home-based venture in Thrissur. Today, it has multiple outlets.“I launched my business with the skills I inherited from my father who was a master at making traditional snacks,” says Elavarasi. “Many people who start businesses look for instant success. No, that’s not how it works.”Elavarasi says she has “tasted the bitterness of defeat”. The trick, she adds, lies in learning from failure and then getting back up. The mantra for any business to become a real success, she says, is ‘never compromise with quality’. Winner of over 100 awards of excellence, Elavarasi is currently eyeing the global market. Notably, she is a recipient of the Best Entrepreneur Award given by the International Peace Council, USA.
Vyapar 2022 will be open to the public from 2pm on Saturday. Visitors can purchase a wide range of products, from handicrafts to foodie delights.
‘Vyapar 2022’ at Kaloor is set to see 350 MSMEs strike partnerships with 500 clients from across India. Here is a quick scan of the ambitious event that would facilitate about 10,000 business-to-business meetings