How Connect2India is Enabling Agro Producers and Small Businesses in Tier 2 and Tier 3 Cities to Go Global?

Connect2India has a strong presence and network in 12 overseas countries and is planning to expand its presence to 20 more top trading nations by this year.

The Government aims to bolster India’s march towards becoming a USD 5 Trillion economy in next few years and boost Indian global trade to USD 2 Trillion by 2022. However, achieving such high growth will require exceptional structural changes in all sectors of the economy, specially the SME sector which is the backbone and lifeline of our economy.

The SMEs are really important to any country’s economy but are even more critical for developing countries like India. India is home to about 65 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and a large proportion of these are in tier 2 and tier 3 cities. Over the past few decades, this sector, comprising of manufacturing, infrastructure, agro industry, service industry, apparels & textile, gems & jewellery, food processing, metal and alloys, packaging, polymer & chemicals, etc. have emerged as the most vibrant and dynamic engine of Indian economic growth. 

Apart from boosting the local economies, this sector has a tremendous scope to contribute a significant margin to the country’s GDP. While there is only a finite scope for SMEs in the local market, exploring revenue source at a global scale is the need of the hour. Currently, only less than 1% of the total 65 Million Indian SMEs export globally, the rest are not able to get into global trade because of various complexities which includes the lack of a credible platform to identify and verify global opportunities and the limited access to market research and trade intelligence. This percentage of SMEs exporting globally in developed countries is 20% to 25%.

Seeing this glaring gap, Pawan Gupta established Connect2India with a single goal of enabling and empowering Indian SMEs to export / import globally and overseas SMEs to effectively export/import with India. 

How big is the Market?

According to WTO, the World Export of WTO Member countries was USD 24 Trillion last year and is expected to grow 4 to 5% year on year. Though India is world’s fastest growing economy, its contribution in global trade is just around USD 0.3 Trillion/year. In spite of the Government's strong focus on SMEs, only a fraction of 65 Million Indian SMEs enter overseas markets. Similarly, only a fraction of 1000 Million+ overseas SMEs trade with India because of lack of credible information on trade insights, trade resources and trade counterparts in India.

India’s overall exports (merchandise and services) were estimated to be $483.98 billion in April-February 2018-19, exhibiting a growth of 8.73% over the year-ago period. It is pertinent to note that the Indian trade is projected to trend around USD 2 Trillion by 2022. 

For specific sectors also, our contribution to global trade is very low. For example, despite India being the largest producer of agricultural commodities in the world, its total agro-export of USD 38 Billion accounts for only a little over 2% of world agro-trade, estimated at a massive $1.5 trillion. Aiming to push India into the list of the top 10 agro-export nations, The Union Cabinet approved the Agricultural Export Policy, 2018 focusing to increase agricultural exports from the current level of $38 billion to $100 billion in the next few years. 

This would help to integrate the Indian farmers and the high quality agricultural products with global value chains and increase India’s share in world agriculture. The vision of this policy is to harness the export potential of Indian agriculture, raising farmers’ income and thus, making India a global power in agriculture. 

The Idea

Given Pawan's interest and background in International Trade, this gap was something he passionately wanted to bridge using his expertise in technology. It was also, around the same time that the government spoke of supporting and encouraging the SME’s growth by helping it explore newer markets across geographies and introducing various sops and schemes to encourage the same; like Make in India, Startup India, Digital India, Skill India etc. and several policies to incentivize the exports from India.

Sensing the time was right, Connect2India was launched with the sole objective of evolving and simplifying the complete global trade ecosystem in India, enabling Indian SMEs to start and grow their business globally and overseas SMEs to effectively trade with India. The platform was launched in April 2016 for Indian and Overseas SMEs. 

The one-stop integrated global trade platform is the company’s USP. It is the first and only platform that bridges the knowledge gap and facilitates end-to-end export/import for SMEs. The platform provides a credible and holistic view on and for Indian and overseas SMEs, complements those with trade intelligence, competitive insights, unique predictive analytics, trade counterparts, expert trade resources, trade solutions etc. to build a complete solution for SME’s export/import needs, enabling them to effectively trade globally.  

How it works?

Connect2India offers end-to-end solutions for export/import - right from making SMEs export/import ready, analyzing worldwide demand, identifying the buyer/supplier, arranging and executing the export/import order. Further, like the model of a cab-hailing service, Connect2India also has a worldwide network of trade service providers such as Custom House Agents (CHAs), logistics, inspection and shipping companies for the order execution part. 

Apart from this, SMEs also get to explore markets in various overseas countries where Connect2India has strong presence, thus mitigating the risk substantially. Once an SME plugs-in into the platform, they get access to trade intelligence, trade insights, trade resources, trade tools and utilities, trade service providers, trade counterparts, of every single country. This places the SMEs in a better position to negotiate the best available price for the product. 

Connect2India is an almost bootstrapped and self-sustainable business with a profitable model and a strong leadership team is in place. 

With close to 1.2 Million+ Organic Visitors per month on the platform, Connect2India already works with 2.5 Billion+ trade data stats, has 2 Million+ Global Trade counterparts, gets up to 1 Million Google Crawl requests per day, has 90,000+ Strong User Base and paying SME customers all over India within multiple industries such as Agro commodities, Apparels & Textile, Handicrafts, FMCG, Agro Equipments, Chemicals & Polymers, Metal & Alloys etc.

The Google Organic Impressions for Connect2India’s integrated global trade platform in the month of March 2019 was 19.5 Million+ from users around the world which suggests that there is a huge demand and market adoption for its global trade platform. Connect2India expects this number to reach 50 Million+ / month by next quarter.

What next?

Connect2India continues to enable and empower Indian SMEs to go global with its global trade integrated platform, end-to-end export solutions and access to worldwide trade network. It continues to make trade safe, easy and fast with technology and plan to integrate block-chain capabilities to facilitate traceability, smart contracts and optimize global supply-chain.

On the trade front, the idea is to enable end-to-end trade execution using the platform and for that, the plan is to establish a strong presence in key cities and countries decided internally with the stakeholders by identifying key markets of exports within India and establishing a fully functional base out of those locations. 

Connect2India has a strong presence and network in 12 overseas countries and is planning to expand its presence to 20 more top trading nations by this year. The local presence in overseas markets helps build confidence for exporters and importers on both sides and also help create and close new export/import opportunities for SMEs by addressing the language, cultural and information barriers.

Connect2india will continue to enable grass root level change empowering agro producers and small businesses in tier 2 and tier 3 cities to be able to trade directly. Further, Connect2India is also interacting with Govt. agencies such as ECGC for ensuring safe trade for their customers.

Enabling Grass root level change

The low participation of India in the world’s total agro-export can be attributed to a lot of reasons, one of them being the inaccessibility to global markets to Indian farmers. Being scattered individuals, these farmers, in general, cannot produce a product at a very large scale as needed for export, along with other factors such as lack of adequate storage (cold storage) for perishable goods, lack of knowledge of complex export procedures, irregular and variable international demands and prices, variation in product quality etc., all working against a small individual farmer.

These farmers need a well-organized producer group (such as farmer cooperatives) with professional guidance and infrastructure for the export of their produced commodities. These organizations procure the products directly from the farmers, process them, add value wherever possible, and export them in the overseas market, directly benefiting the farmers as well.

 “We believe our venture will be able to bring the changes at the grass root level. For example, we are engaged with an organization working with small and marginal farmers towards making farming a sustainable and profitable occupation. They are working with 35,852 farmers covering 3 states and around 86,188 acres. We are also enabling small businesses in tier 2 and tier 3 cities to export directly by partnering and hand-holding them for end-to-end export” Said Pawan.

In addition to Agro, Connect2India also continues to enable SMEs in other product categories such as Apparels & Textile, Handicrafts, Gems & Jewellery, Chemicals & Polymers, and Metal & Alloys etc. For this, it plans to open offices in the major export cities and be closer at grass root level, making support available at hand for them.

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