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Sushma Morthania: A Beacon of Women’s Entrepreneurial Success

Sushma Morthania, a dedicated women entrepreneur and visionary, has transformed challenges into opportunities for small and medium business owners in India. As the Founder Director General of the India SME Forum, she spearheads initiatives to create a conducive ecosystem for employment-generating enterprises, with a focus on empowering women entrepreneurs. Leading the formation of the India SME Forum, Sushma actively engages in outreach and knowledge-sharing activities.

Under her leadership, Sushma pioneered the India SME 100 Awards, introducing a unique evaluation format to assess SMEs nationwide. Her commitment extends to conducting India’s largest MSME survey, covering 3,30,000 businesses across diverse sectors and states. Sharing insights with government bodies, policymakers, and ministries, Sushma plays a pivotal role in shaping strategies to address current challenges and prospects.

Appointed to the National Board of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in 2015, Sushma represents India on the B20 China SME Taskforce and contributes to the World Union of Small and Medium Enterprises. A staunch advocate for women’s empowerment, she actively supports artisan clusters and self-employed women, embodying her belief that entrepreneurship is key to social and economic change in India. Sushma’s dynamic leadership and innovative strategies at the India SME Forum continue to drive growth and inclusivity in the MSME sector.

In a distinctive conversation with The Interview World, Sushma Morthania, Director General of India SME Forum, highlights her organization’s commitment to empowering women entrepreneurs in spearheading export initiatives. The following are key excerpts from her insightful interview.

Q: Could you elaborate on the Women Exporters Program?

A: The Women Exporters Program is specifically designed for first-time women exporters. Existing women entrepreneurs aiming to venture into international markets can also participate in this program. Participation in this program is free of charge, but selection is based on specific criteria. To qualify, applicants must have been in business for a minimum of three years. Moreover, she should have at least one product currently selling or operating domestically, demonstrating substantial export potential.

Throughout the program, participants will undergo comprehensive training. This training helps aspiring women exporters understand the export potential of their products, assess market opportunities, and enhance the overall export viability of their products. The ultimate goal is to facilitate direct engagement with diverse markets and potential buyers. This includes exposure to different markets, connecting with various buyers, and gaining access to extensive buyer databases.

In essence, the program aims to empower women entrepreneurs by providing them with the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate international trade successfully.

Q: How does your organization provide support and guidance, particularly to women entrepreneurs, as they navigate their business ventures?

A: Our program for women boasts over 256 mentors, featuring not only experts but also accomplished entrepreneurs who have navigated challenges, achieved success, and are eager to guide women in specific sectors.

This initiative’s strength lies in the diverse expertise of our mentors. We provide personalized, one-to-one mentoring for all women involved, offering an exclusive benefit to cohort members. This individualized guidance creates a unique opportunity for women to open up, envision a promising future, and anticipate success for their businesses.

Q: Could you shed light on the success of the first cohort for the Women Exporters Program?

A: In the initial phase of our program, we sought nominations and applications specifically from women entrepreneurs engaged in merchandising products with a keen interest in venturing into export activities. An impressive response ensued, with a total of 2200 applications received. Following a rigorous selection process, 513 women underwent comprehensive training.

Of this trained cohort, a notable 287 women have already embarked on their journey into the realm of exports. This involves crucial steps such as obtaining Importer-Exporter Code (IEC) registrations and initiating actual export operations. Beyond the formal program period, we provide ongoing support by offering continued guidance and mentorship to these aspiring women entrepreneurs.

It is gratifying to note that the positive impact of our initiative extends beyond the trained individuals. The remaining participants, who are yet to venture into exports, contribute to the growing community of women exporters in India. Collectively, they reinforce the advancement of women in the field of international trade.

Q: How many women entrepreneurs are you going to onboard for the second cohort?

A: The application process for the second cohort has already begun, with nominations accepted until the 20th of February. Following the success of our first cohort, there has been a significant increase in interest among women entrepreneurs nationwide. We anticipate a higher number of applications this time around. We aim not just to double, but quadruple the previous intake. This optimistic expectation stems from the positive impact and enthusiasm generated by our initial cohort’s achievements.

Q: What opportunities do you anticipate for women exporters and entrepreneurs in the country over the next couple of years?

A: Enormous potential exists, and it’s crucial to emphasize that this potential extends beyond traditional export methods. The future lies in D2C, or direct-to-consumer export. Women, in particular, should view this as a promising opportunity. They can actively participate by joining international e-commerce platforms or e-marketplaces, positioning themselves for the upcoming trends. This shift represents the future landscape of exports.

Women Entrepreneurs Reshaping the Narrative of Indian Exports Landscape
Women Entrepreneurs Reshaping the Narrative of Indian Exports Landscape


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