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B-school boost for small biz

The Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) is focussing on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to help them compete with major players, marking a break in the trend of B-schools courting only top-notch corporate houses.

The institute, which has branches in Delhi and Calcutta, is drawing up models for conducting training to empower the SMEs to handle their business more effectively.

“We are helping individual units and associations involved in the development of SMEs and providing them with policy inputs for their internationalisation,” said K. Rangarajan, the head of the Calcutta centre and the Centre for SME Studies, IIFT.

Through long and short-term training programmes, the institute has reached out to over 5,000 units in 18 months.

It offers courses like certified export consultant programme for SME clusters, certificate programme for those involved in food processing and textiles and clothing at a subsidised rate. “A certificate programme costing Rs 20,000 is offered to an SME unit at Rs 3,000. The rest of the cost is borne by associations the units belong to,” said Rangarajan.

The training, primarily aimed at the food processing and textile industry, focuses on foreign trade policy, trade procedures, documentation and trade logistics, international market issues and sectoral strategies, financing options, entrepreneurship and succession planning.

“Getting adequate finances is difficult here for a first generation businessman like me. Getting a certification for exports, too, is difficult because of the expenses and the time involved,” said Mushidul Haque, the owner of EMA Global Trading Company, who attended a programme on food processing.

The B-school is creating a network of consultants for the SME sector. “Consultants are expensive and most SMEs can’t afford them. We decided to develop a cadre of consultants for them, since we have the talent pool and the resources,” said Rangarajan.

The institute has already trained 20 people as business development service providers.

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