SIYB can play a key role in livelihood recover post COVID-19

Ms Dagmar Walter, Director, ILO Decent Work Team for South Asia and Country Office for India provided opening remarks to ‘Online Training of Trainers (ToT) for Trade Unions on Short Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) course

Statement | New Delhi, India | 12 October 2020
Respected Shri D K Singh, Additional Secretary and Development Commissioner, MoMSME,

Officials from the State Governments,

SIYB master trainers team,

My ILO colleagues. 

Namaste and a very Good morning to you all!

• Firstly, let me express my appreciation and thank all State government nominees for taking time from their busy schedules to join this programme.

• On behalf of the International Labour Organisation, let me also extend a warm welcome to Shri. Singh. It will be an honour indeed to hear him today. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry has announced various initiatives to support MSMEs, realizing their potential to bring the economy back on track. I am looking forward to learn more about Mr. Singh’s vision for MSME development in India.

• It would be important to understand from him the key challenges of promoting entrepreneurship in less industrialised pockets in India and strategies being designed to boost local economy. This will certainly set the context for our 4-day interactive programme and will surely benefit the State officials to reflect upon.

• The lockdown and various containment measures have affected economic activities and business operations globally. In India, with large section of workers are employed within small and micro businesses, in formal and informal sector. Many are self-employed or own account workers. This section has faced the knock-on effects on incomes and working conditions due to prolonged restrictions and global supply chain or market disruptions.

• Now with more precautions in place like physical distancing, the enterprises appear to be slowly resuming their course of work in what we call the ‘new normal’.

• As an UN agency, with the mandate to promote decent work and social justice for all, the ILO, has actively engaged with its constituents in 187 member States, on developing policy responses to mitigate impact of COVID-19 on the world of work. We are determined to ensure that the new normal is indeed a ‘better normal’.

• One may wonder how our objective of decent jobs links to entrepreneurship development. Let me explain it in detail. As a tripartite agency, ILO has formal representation of government, employers or the businesses and, workers, which implies our work balances both the interest of businesses and workers. This is the basic foundation of a sustainable economy.

• Employment promotion is a critical area of ILO’s work. In the absence of adequate job opportunities, one is forced to accept poor quality jobs for survival. It could lead to the trap of indebtedness, and unacceptable forms of work such as forced or child labour. Thus, employment and decent work are inter-linked and therefore, two sides of the same coin. In many countries, especially in the developing countries, MSMEs are the largest employment source, second after agriculture.

• Under SDG 8 on Decent Work for All it finds a special mention in SDG 8.3 - Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation and entrepreneurship.

• For the ILO, enterprise development is not just about unleashing the potential of entrepreneurship; but it is fundamentally about setting businesses or enterprises, which not only generate revenue but also generate jobs. Not any jobs, but good quality jobs. Sustainable enterprises are a way of doing business that is productive, making profits and sustainably integrating in supply chains without harming people or society nor the environment.

• The enterprise development programmes of ILO globally have supported industry associations and governments in many countries to effectively design and deliver MSME initiatives, including engagement with global markets. ILO brings in over 100 years of experience, being the first and oldest UN agency set-up in 1919. The Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) programme, alone has benefitted more than 15 million potential entrepreneurs and led to the creation of close to 9 million jobs worldwide.

• In India, self-employment accounts for 76.28 % of total employed, which implies entrepreneurship is playing a critical role in this country. However, only 4% of them are employers or job creators. Further, many enterprises die within first two years of set-up.

• The depressed market at present due COVID-19 has further increased vulnerability of these entrepreneurs. This therefore underscores the need for laying a strong foundation for the potential entrepreneurs, which will arm them with sound business acumen and entrepreneurial skills to deal with such emergencies in the future. It is imperative to support them to not only start their own enterprise, but also transform into ‘job generators’.

• The ILO in its COVID policy response framework has outlined four pillars for recovery, of which the pillar 2, underlines the need for ‘supporting employment and income’, which includes MSMEs revival and entrepreneurship development.

• Many of you are engaged in translating India’s self-reliance or Atma Nirbhar dream. It has potential to put MSMEs at the forefront of the Nation’s growth. Your role in the States is challenging yet, critical in the face of current crisis, which is a mixed bag of health, and economic crisis.

• I acknowledge your various challenges on for example skills or digital access, that may act as a barrier in effectively targeting and delivering various programmes/schemes in the field. You are dealing with a massive scale in a diverse society. We therefore need to make concerted efforts towards job and entrepreneurship development to collectively accelerate the country’s path to economic and livelihood recovery.

• The ILO SIYB can act as a quick, simple and low cost tool to support you. SIYB is a global training programme with materials designed especially for small-scale entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. It aims at increasing the viability of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) through management principles suitable for the environment of developing countries. The ILO assists organizations to develop the skills required to implement, monitor, manage and finance the training programme.

• In India, over a 100,000 persons have benefitted through SIYB trainings offered through State funded programmes. It played a key role in the livelihood recovery, in communities affected by post-2004 Tsunami, 2012 landslide in Sonbhadra and the 2018 Kerala flood. It is also playing a critical role now in many countries in responding to the employment crisis due to COVID-19 pandemic, including India.

• On behalf of ILO, I wish you all the best and hope that the 4-day online SIYB training will add value to your ongoing endeavours. I also encourage you to take advantage of this training to network with other States and share experiences for mutual learning.

• I once again thank you all for your participation and interest in the SIYB training.

Thank you for your kind attention.