Mentoring Micro Businesses: L N Gupta

Leading e-magazine Bhubaneswar Odisha

LN Gupta, additional chief secretary with Odisha’s MSME (micro, small & medium enterprises) is an extremely busy officer these days. No, not with the usual bureaucratic rigmarole. The department Gupta helms, is spearheading a new, unheard of culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the state. A few years back who would have imagined Odisha taking the big leap in fostering start-ups and handholding first generation entrepreneurs in all possible ways?

But, Gupta has challenged all stereotypes and proved the naysayers wrong. With his out of the box thinking and quick implementation of reforms and incentives, he has shown Odisha too can be looked up for entrepreneurship. His string of reforms leading to spike in MSME exports and Odisha catapulting to a ‘champion state’ are also laudable. Gupta is an Odisha-cadre officer armed with an MA (Economics) and MBA degree from Birmingham University. He has served the Odisha government in various capacities- starting as the sub-collector of Deogarh in 1988-90, project officer with the DRDA, Vice Chairman of the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA), Revenue Development Commissioner (Cuttack) and CMD of Odisha Hydro Power Corporation (OHPC).

“As many as 162 start-ups have been registered with our Start-up portal of which 10 per cent are helmed by women. We are providing Rs 20,000 every month to the registered start- ups and marketing & development allowance of up to Rs 15 lakh. We also have a learning & development programme developed by Upgrad which has seen around 3000  registrations.

Then, we have an informal partnership with Facebook to provide digital marketing skills to micro entrepreneurs”, says Gupta.

“The start-ups range from healthcare & life sciences to HR & household services, IT and IoT (Internet of Things) to finance technology and food services are registered under the Odisha Start Up Initiative and 20 of them are getting benefits. Besides, four recognised incubators and 20 others are working across the state”, he adds.

Led by Gupta’s vision, Odisha has logged a growth rate of 114 per cent in exports, the highest amongst all states in  2016-17. A trend of increase in Odisha export continues, which is reflected in the export turnover of nearly Rs 26,000 crore by November, 2017. Enthused by this success, Gupta has announced that a new export strategy will be in place shortly, which will focus on improvement in standards of quality and products, value addition in traditional exportable products, products and market diversification, downstream and ancillarisation of industries, unleashing the potential of e-commerce and development of eco-tourism in the state. Gupta believes Odisha can achieve Rs one lakh crore turnover in
exports by 2025.

Rarely does one encounter a senior IAS officer who is so deeply committed to the development of MSMEs in the state. Gupta has been urging the small industries to enrol in the Zero Defect – Zero Effect programme offered by the Quality Council of India. Registration in this programme would enable the MSME promoters to upgrade the quality of their products and services, leading to more procurement by the large industries.

Last month, the state MSME department along with Software Technology Parks of India, Susmita Bagchi, a noted Odia Writer and Philanthropist signed an MoU with IIT, Bhubaneswar for establishment of an Incubator namely, “Centre of Excellence for Virtual & Augmented Reality” (VARCoE) at the campus of IIT, Bhubaneswar in presence of the Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik.

The incubator on Virtual Augmented Reality at IIT, Bhubaneswar will be a landmark initiative for promoting research, technology incubation and product development in the country. The Centre will cater to the start-ups and new generation entrepreneurs working in the area of Virtual Augmented Reality for immersive visualisation and allied areas.

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