‘Digital tech can further improve India’s ease of doing biz’

(IANS) With the World Bank improving India’s Ease of Doing Business from 142 to 63 due to fundamental changes in government policy over the last five years, a new book offers a blueprint for India’s economic growth through the innovative use of advanced technology to encourage entrepreneurship and augment available resources.

The approach is to create a bridge between the ”physical” and the ”digital”, and between rural and urban through well-designed platforms, thereby amplifying the possibilities for creating start-ups across the country, N. Chandrasekaran, chairman, Tata Sons, and Roopa Purushothaman, chief economist, Tata Group, write in ”Bridgital Nation” (Penguin).

In this context, it has to be noted that the World Bank has also said that “importing and exporting also became easier for companies with the creation of a single electronic platform for trade stakeholders (and) improvements to electronic submission of documents”.

Noting that in a business hub like Bengaluru, there’s “finance available for every stage of a company’s lifecycle, specialized services for marketing and IT support, distributor networks, and a galaxy of mentors, advisors, peers, and competitors; even clients are only a traffic jam away”, the book asks: How does the rest of India lower the barriers to enable other enthusiastic entrepreneurs?

The answer lies in digital technologies, which can be used to extend Bengaluru-like services to local businesses across the country. These ”Bridgital Clusters” should include:

* Knowledge and Innovation: Technology Transfer, Advisory Services, Mentorship and Networks, Industry Knowledge;

* Business Operations: Accounting, Inventory, Marketing, Communications, Project Management;

* Finance and Taxation: Growth Capital, Working Capital, Tax Compliance;

* Human Resources: Training, Recruitment, Regulatory Compliance, Market Linkages: Logistics, Buyer Networks

“Creating a Bridgital Cluster will need a crucial piece of innovation — a platform of platforms that provides entrepreneurs with an easy way to access services,” the book says.

For instance, take finance: “Digital lending companies are using cashflow history, psychometric assessments and social media behavior to assess lending risks. An everywhere entrepreneur could potentially use such platforms to access credit without a standard credit score or collateral, irrespective of whether they live in a city or a village. Digital recruitment and training are also becoming mainstream. An everywhere entrepreneur who needs to hire a skilled worker no longer has to approach a labor agency to find workers,” the book says.

Contending that improvements in India’s ease of doing business will be beneficial to the MSME sector, the book says that 68 percent of such enterprises are offline — they have never used an Internet connection for any business purpose, or might not even have one.

“Deliberately pushing digital adoption can, we believe, provide a quantum leap to the MSME sector,” the authors say.

“A new focus on entrepreneurship throughout India, aided by improving ease of doing business, could shift 45 million workers into more productive employment in small and medium enterprises. These jobs are more formal and pay better wages than the opportunities on offer for most job seekers today. We will then be able to fully realize the entrepreneurial spirit inherent to India, and tap into a vast reserve of economic fuel,” co-author Roopa Purushothaman says.

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