A mission to make it easier to Access India

by India Inc. Staff

The Access India Programme, launched in the UK as a sub-set of the Indian government’s Make in India programme three years ago, entered its second phase in 2020.

Highlights:

  • Access India, the Indian High commission’s initiative to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from the UK access the Indian market has entered its second phase.
  • AIP is designed to address the requirements of mainly manufacturing and technology SMEs across the UK.
  • AIP provides a detailed programme of activity, mentoring, networking opportunities and market entry support services for selected companies.

The second phase of the Access India Programme (AIP), an initiative to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from the UK access the Indian market, is now underway to build on the success of the Phase 1.

The High Commission of India initiative building on the Indian government’s Make in India drive is delivered by the UK India Business Council (UKIBC), which has formally signed up for AIP II to carry on the hand-holding process for UK SMEs keen to expand into India.

“Since the launch of the first phase in 2017, the Access India Programme has selected 50 companies from all over the UK in two cohorts. The support for these companies will continue in the second phase even as we work with 20 new companies,” said Ruchi Ghanashyam, the Indian High Commissioner to the UK.

“It reflects some of the impressive improvements that India has made in the area of ease of doing business. Over the last five years, there has been an improvement of 79 positions in the World Bank rankings. This easier environment and the assistance through the Access India Programme offers a very good opportunity for companies to establish their presence in India,” she said.

AIP II will build on the first phase of the programme, designed specifically to assist smaller companies through their India journey as a “sub-set” of the Make in India programme, added Manish Singh, Minister (Economic) at the Indian High Commission, who signed the contract for phase 2 on behalf of the Indian government.

“This is an end to end programme which helps SMEs – the backbone of the UK economy – expand into a market which appears difficult but once accessed, proves very beneficial,” said Richard Heald, CEO of UKIBC – the knowledge partner for the programme.

AIP is designed to address the requirements of mainly manufacturing and technology SMEs across the UK, with the likes of electric vehicle firm Tevva Motors and survival equipment manufacturer Crib Gogh among those making use of the programme for its India entry.

“For us, this programme ticks all the boxes on the list of SMEs,” said Richard Lidstone-Scott of Tevva Motors, which struck up a partnership with Indian manufacturing major Bharat Forge after being introduced as part of the Access India Programme.

“AIP provides a wonderfully balanced and positive view and insight into dealing with India, the benefits and the pitfalls,” he said.

Adrian Smith of Crib Gogh noted: “The willingness to listen to the problems experienced by SMEs when working with governments and large enterprises is second to none and I only wish it was replicated by other agencies in the UK.”

Make in India was launched by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2014 as a means to facilitate investment, foster innovation, enhance skill development, protect intellectual property and build best-in-class manufacturing infrastructure; with a focus on 25 key sectors of the economy. The Indian mission in London noted that UK investors by and large responded positively to the Make in India initiative, aimed at creating synergies with the UK’s robust manufacturing industry and experience in sustainable development, innovation and skills, and the new opportunities available in India. However, the focus tended to be on large companies and multinationals. The AIP was born out of the missing link to focus solely on the UK’s vibrant SME sector.

The initiative tied up with the wider UK-India partnership goals, including Britain working with India on its mission to climb up the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranks.

“Our research has found that it is getting easier every year to do business in India, with finding the right partner consistently flagged among the top three barriers. That is where this programme comes in,” said Kevin McCole, COO of UKIBC.

For the companies chosen as part of a rigorous selection process, AIP provides a detailed programme of activity, mentoring, networking opportunities and market entry support services. These services cover areas such as strategy advisory, operational market entry support, tax & legal support, financial services, project financing, M&A, location services, technology collaboration as well as facilitation of approvals from central and state agencies.

The focus has been on UK SMEs that possess high-end technologies and innovative products. They are then offered an intensive programme to help mobilise them for the ultimate goal – to Make in India.

About the Author: India Inc. Staff