Small enterprises get a helping hand in troubled times

by Nilesh Wadhwa 31 May 2021


It is an initiative that kicked off two years ago to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Wadhwani Advantage endeavours to help entrepreneurs whose business revenues are above Rs 20 crore. The exercise involves three years of hand-holding support enabled through a personalised artificial intelligence-led business acceleration programme.

 “Our plans are focused on accelerating their growth by solving efficiency-related problems. We also help them run their business professionally,” Samir Sathe , executive VP, Wadhwani Advantage at Wadhwani Foundation, told Autocar Professional. 

The ultimate goal of the foundation is to create employment. “If we are able to strengthen the SME community, they can grow themselves over time,” he added. The curated advisors offer pro bono/subsidised/success-based fees for this transformation that is then certified by Wadhwani Advantage.

Since 2019, the number of companies covered exceeds 700 and the target is at least 20-25 percent focus on the automotive sector with the focus on Tier 2/3 suppliers. Sathe said Wadhwani Advantage has engaged with nearly 40 auto companies and the biggest challenge for suppliers is to expand their customer base with the current product portfolio. 

“Given the Covid situation, they do not have the financial muscle to invest in new products. It is important therefore to leverage their product mix and manufacturing capabilities while finding new customers,” he elaborated.

According to Sathe, it is also important for suppliers to migrate upwards from just making components to aggregates. This will help them in “bad times when their ability to bargain better increases” thanks to the better products they will then have to offer. 

The programme also helps suppliers focus on value-addition. The other big task on hand is to ensure the right skills for innovation and new products. “If you have capable people and a streamlined process, owners will benefit,” he said.

Wadhwani Advantage also works with SMEs in the aftermarket, electric vehicles, sustainability and exports. Beyond this, it is looking at “providing 360-degree content” by way of automated analytical tools. The AI-based drive provides rich data to help in areas of sales, account management and customer expansion. 

Some of the clients list include Stark Rubber, Dhand Steels, Cello Wrap and Alkayem which are all MSMEs “in the range of $2-11 million — there are 15 companies with revenue of over $5 million”.