Skill, Labour, Talent for MSMEs: Do Indian MSMEs need mentoring? What do they need to be mentored on? How and where would they prefer to be mentored? Whom would they prefer to be mentored from? The key question is what impact could Indian MSMEs see if they are mentored in the next 10 years? We estimate that the select Indian MSMEs up to Rs 250 crore revenue could experience an acceleration of 2-5x revenue and 1-3x in profits, in the next 10 years, should they spend around $70 billion, in this timeline, on the curated mentors for solving the right problems, delivered and monitored appropriately.
There are barriers to MSMEs spending money on mentors. They do not think it would help them, they do not know whom and how should they engage with, they have more pressing priorities, they suffer from lack of faith in an external professional being able to add value to family business matters, and finally, they just do not have the money.
Few mentors have been honest to acknowledge that the majority of evidence is mixed at best and counter-productive, at least. Secondly, the mentoring industry itself is in its infancy with most value adds splintered between tall promises with weak implementation and feel-good conversations and few knew what it takes to deliver a thorough and full-scale transformation of MSMEs through a mentoring journey. Notwithstanding a few mentors (I estimate the actual numbers of truly capable ones would be fewer than few thousands to support a population of 65 million MSMEs), the mentoring professionals need to mentor themselves to re/ upskill.
Not all is lost. The early signals underpinning a mentoring revolution are visible. These signals are manifest in the changing paradigms of MSMEs in learning, unlearning, doing business and engaging mentors for the same.
Decoding Mentoring, Today
I have dimensionalised mentoring on ‘what’, ‘why’ incidence, ‘how’, ‘where’ preferences and ‘who’ the mentor is. It throws interesting patterns for us to imagine a potential revolution that could be unleashed if the industry redraws its engagement models to propel MSMEs become competitive, thrive and grow manifold.