Indian SME Forum to launch FIRST

Forum will help small merchants embrace digital transformation and improve their business

India SME Forum (ISF), India’s largest non-governmental non-profit organization for small and medium enterprises, announced the launch this month of the Forum for Internet Retailers, Sellers, and Traders (FIRST) which aims to support the entry of wholesale and retail, both offline and online, which was recently included in the definition of micro, small and medium enterprises under the MSMED Act 2006 after the change notified on July 2 2021.

ISF is an ex-officio member of the advisory committee set up by the Indian government. He pushed for the inclusion of wholesale and retail trade as eligible activities under the MSMED Act, with benefits limited to priority sector loans, from now on. Working with Indian policy makers, FIRST will aim to create an enabling policy ecosystem that will help remove the biggest barriers that retailers, vendors and merchants currently face and enable them to grow their business online.

Mr. Vinod Kumar, Chairman, Indian SME Forumsaid, “MSMEs are the backbone of our economy. With e-commerce expanding the scope of business for the retail sector, we want to be the voice of MSMEs in India and help break down barriers to digital trade. Our goal is to foster the growth of India’s retail and e-commerce sector, provide workable solutions to lawmakers and help them create a better framework for retail and wholesale.

ISF, in association with FIRST, organized the “Future Proofing Retail Summit” on August 30, 2022 in Ahmedabad, Gujarat and is expected to expand the same to other cities such as Bengaluru, Indore, Delhi and Pune with the aim of making the retailers, vendors, and merchants aware of the opportunities available to future-proof their business by restructuring outdated supply chains, effectively managing inventory, reviewing pricing strategies, understanding financing and payment processes, and reinventing the physical store for the digital age.

The summit saw the participation of industry experts, traders, retailers, CXOs and academics, among others, and acted as a consultant to state and central government, offering information reviews on the challenges facing the seller community. The summit featured a consultative roundtable of board members from more than 80 traders and retailers organizations in Gujarat, who discussed the short and long term demands of the state and central government with regards to competition online and offline retailers, taxes, cost of doing business, GST issues and benefits, among other matters.

ISF also announced the first edition of the “Best Sellers of India Awards” in association with FIRST, aimed at identifying and recognizing India’s innovative and successful leading and emerging retailers on a zonal basis, who have embraced the latest technologies, credit facilities and digital solutions to serve the interests of consumers with the best possible deals while achieving growth and overcoming challenges during the pandemic. The winners will be congratulated in the presence of union and state ministers, leaders and visionaries representing the retail industry in India. Nominations already started on August 5 in six southern Indian states – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Goa and will be open until September 25.

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