New scheme to help UK SMEs break into India

New scheme to help UK SMEs break into India

British SMEs looking to gain entry into the Indian market are to get a helping hand following the launch of a new business support scheme.

The Access India Programme (AIP) has been designed to support market entry and investments by UK SMEs in India. Unveiled by the High Commission of India in London and the UK India Business Council (UKIBC), it aims to build upon the Indian government’s Make in India initiative.

Selected UK firms will be able to access free advice on everything from legal matters to taxation and accounting practices. The scheme will also see a number of larger UK companies with operations in India offer mentoring support.

A statement released by the UKIBC said that along with the Indian High Commission, it would identify UK SMEs that “have considerable potential to succeed in the Indian market”.

It said: “By using rigorous diagnostics and analysis of SMEs potential, the partnership will look to create a transformative blended programme, linking SMEs to a strong support networks of prime manufacturers, OEMs, trade bodies and chambers of commerce.”

Speaking at the launch of the initiative, Indian High Commissioner to the UK, Mr Y K Sinha, said: “We are launching the Access India Programme, a first of its kind in the UK, to facilitate investments by small and medium-scale enterprises in the UK into India. In the last three years India has received Foreign Direct Investments worth US$ 175 billion. Government of India is committed and focused to improving India’s ranking in ease of doing business.

“Through AIP, we aim to take forward the Make in India programme of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. I hope that by implementing this programme, we can highlight the latest developments in India in ease of doing business, facilitate initiatives by SMEs and enhance bilateral investment between the two countries.”

The importance of SMEs to the UK economy has never been greater. Official figures from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy show the number of private businesses operating in the UK hit a record high of 5.5 million last year – 99.9 per cent of which were small or medium-sized companies. The total number of registered SMEs stood at 4.5 million in 2010, up from 3.5 million in 2000.

Richard Heald, chief executive of the India Business Council, said the launch of the initiative was further proof of the strengthening economic relationship between the UK and India.

He said: “As an organisation with specific contracts with the UK Government and Indian Government through dialogues such as JETCO, EFD and the UK India CEO Forum, we are well placed to deliver. Once implemented, we’re sure that this partnership will go some way to ensuring UK businesses get the platform they need to succeed in India.”

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