In 2019, we at Aye wanted to revolutionise the notion of financial aid. Along with accessible and affordable funding of over 1,50,000 grassroots businesses, we launched the Section 8 Company FAME (Foundation for Advancement of Micro Enterprises) to provide holistic and developmental support to micro-entrepreneurs. Our CSR interventions are focused on creating skills-based growth for these manufacturers and the clusters they operate in. How do we do that? Our approach has been to tap into the rich resource of Aye’s expertise in lending to micro-enterprises. Furthermore, our data based on cluster insights have provided a significant advantage in successfully implementing this program.
Aye has been providing affordable credit to millions of micro-enterprises that operate in various industries like manufacturing, trading, services, agriculture and hundreds of clusters across the country. We saw immense potential for the growth of Indian micro-enterprises and our CSR program was built to capitalize on this opportunity to build India from the ground up!
Little Acorns to Great Oaks
Micro-enterprises from each industrial cluster bring a unique product to the entrepreneurial map. For instance, Meerut is known for manufacturing sports goods, while Ajmer is known for Gota Patti embroidery and Ambala for its scientific equipment production cluster. However, the micro-entrepreneur whose products make these industrial clusters famous is often
undervalued and their growth is limited. We developed a plan to identify these enterprises with the help of a “cluster-based credit assessment” method.
Despite possessing the potential to create world-class products, these micro-entrepreneurs are not always able to reap the full benefits of
their labour. They sell their wares to a middleman in their local market who further sells them to bigger traders at a hefty margin. From there, the products are packaged and sold at high-end stores or exported to international markets. While the value of the product increases, these entrepreneurs are left out of the profits that have been made. We needed innovative solutions to bridge this financial gap. From the glass manufacturers of Firozabad to the marble inlay workers of Agra to the wooden toymakers of Channapatna, our support is dedicated to encouraging these workers to grow their business steadily and eventually be financially independent.
Sowing the Seeds
The FAME Team guides a large number of micro business owners in the clusters, on best practices in manufacturing and marketing to help scale up these enterprises. The program addresses three key aspects and helps build marketing management skills to enhance the livelihood of these small micro-businesses.
- Master artisans and quality micro-scale manufacturers are identified within the cluster who have been running large scale manufacturing setups. These veterans conduct various quality training for the FAME Members. The samples manufactured by the members post the training sessions are then tested for improvement.
- A consultant who specializes in e-commerce setups with Amazon and other marketplace portals, conducts orientation sessions for the members. Sessions are also conducted by those who have been selling their products online. This way members are made aware of the process and experience which helps them set realistic expectations from such transactions.
- All members are informed of the benefits of maintaining healthy financial records and especially of GST registration. The FAME team also guides them through the registration process, ensuring it goes smoothly.
Turning Over a New Leaf
The success of this program was palpable from early on. The FAME Team now supports several micro-entrepreneurs and helps them explore marketing options that eliminate the need for middlemen. By conducting workshops across India, FAME aims to empower as many micro-entrepreneurs as possible by providing them with the opportunity to meet the demands of the current market. This additional support that goes beyond financial aid leads these micro-enterprises to scale up their manufacturing process in an organic and well-informed manner.