New Delhi, 23 Oct 2020 : India Exim Bank in partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in India has organized a webinar, “Impact of COVID-19 in MSME Sector in the North East India: Challenges and Opportunities”, on October 22, 2020. The webinar was attended by several dignitaries including Mr. K. Moses Chalai, Secretary, North Eastern Council (NEC); Ms. Shoko Noda, Resident Representative, UNDP in India and Mr. David Rasquinha, Managing Director, India Exim Bank. The webinar is a part of the ongoing collaboration between India Exim Bank and the UNDP on the project ‘Capacity Building of MSMEs in North East India for Export Competitiveness’.

The webinar focused on various aspects of MSME sector of North East India, and highlighted the huge potential offered by the region and possible ways to profitably unleash these potentials, especially in the context of current pandemic. During the event, a Coffee Table Book showcasing several case studies and impact stories in agriculture, handloom and handcrafts sectors from three North Eastern states of Assam, Mizoram and Nagaland, supported by the India Exim Bank-UNDP project was released.

Mr. K. Moses Chalai, Secretary, NEC in his address stressed the need to seriously look into Industry 4.0 in the North East. He pointed out that COVID-19 pandemic has brought out several innovations by the enterprises of the region. With the youth in the region started taking more risks, he believed that North East today holds huge potential to come up with good startups. He also emphasized that it is time to look into the governance issues faced by the region.

Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Shoko Noda, Resident Representative, UNDP in India stated that the pandemic has shown us how fragile small businesses are, especially for women, and the importance of resilience for MSMEs. She stressed that the country can achieve SDGs only if North East has equal access to education and livelihoods. MSMEs in the region can make huge contribution towards strengthening the rural economy and providing sustainable livelihoods for women in the region.

India Exim Bank MD, Mr. David Rasquinha in his address pointed out the importance of MSMEs for North East region and stressed on improving infrastructure and connectivity for development of MSMEs and growth of exports from the region.  COVID-19 has disrupted the value chain of the MSMEs especially handloom, handicrafts and food processing sectors. He urged the entrepreneurs to formulate a business continuity and recovery plan in case of similar disruptions happening in the future, and organizations like the UNDP and India Exim Bank are in the right position based on their existing activities in the region, to assist MSMEs in their future endeavors.

The panelists deliberated upon various issues, along with the current and future prospects for MSME sector in the North East region in the context of COVID-19 pandemic. Several entrepreneurs thanked India Exim Bank and the UNDP for their timely support offered to MSMEs in the region. The webinar saw participation from several industry bodies, entrepreneurs and organizations from the region.