Q. What are the specific focus areas of the SAARC CCI SME Council?
A. We are coming out with an information portal to integrate SMEs across the SAARC region. There will be specified guidelines to register and log in to the portal and access all the relevant information on sectors and products related to the SME sector. It is user-friendly; anyone can log in. We want to facilitate small businesses and start-ups in the region, sharing information on good business practises and country-specific business analysis, guidelines, norms and all such relevant data that helps a small-scale entrepreneur to start and grow his/her business. One ambitious goal of ours is branding of SAARC products. We also want to create clusters for free flow of goods and services. For instance, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan can form one such cluster. Raw leather, textiles or carpets, gems and jewellery etc. from one country can be sold freely to another country. For example, raw carpets from Afghanistan go for finishing in Jaipur.
Q. What financial measures are you looking into for SMEs?
A. We are trying to collate and disseminate information on different types of funding options for SMEs. Non-collateral lending can be an option. We are also talking to different financing agencies across the SAARC region. We are also looking into special purpose vehicles for this. In future, hopefully, there can be a regional bank.
— As told to BE’s Sangeeta Mahapatra