State of the Economy – February 2021

India’s economy is recovering at a better-than-expected pace with an uptick in consumer confidence and growth seen in businesses seen across technology, healthcare and exports. Ratings agency S&P Global in its latest report has predicted that the Indian economy will grow at 10% in Fiscal 2022 attributing consistently good agriculture performance, a flattening of the Covid-19 curve and a pickup in government spending as key contributors. Having said that, the report also talks about Covid-19 vaccination as critical to India`s recovery and as key to normalizing demand.

As a matter of fact, a lot of listed companies have reported greater than expected earnings. Steps such as conserving capital, cost optimization, headcount reduction, product portfolio rationalization (focusing on viable products and services with products that are slow moving or having long supply chains being shelved forever) and increased technology adoption (companies with a wider digital reach have been major gainers), corporate India adopted every trick in the book to emerge stronger post the pandemic. We have also seen many successful businesses pivot their costs such as rent from fixed to variable.

The Union Budget 2021 presented by Hon`ble Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman on 1st Feb 2021 also lays the road map for a construction-based recovery, laying thrust on infrastructure, real estate and other capex activities to generate employment. Direct taxes have been left unchanged in the budget with some minor tweaks in compliance that has been provided to help improve the ease of doing business. The Budget also incentivized the incorporation of One Person Company which has unique advantages such a limited liability for micro entrepreneurs and should definitely be considered by Jamati members running small businesses.

Some Specific Advice to Deal with the Changing Economy

For business owners –

  • Stay Abreast with the changing dynamics of businesses
    As a business owner, you must always ask yourself, am I abreast of the latest developments and technologies available in the sector? Almost all businesses will see increasing digitization, use of online services and data analytics, and alliances across manufacturers, distributors, promoters, and product developers to differentiate customer experiences, improve margins, and survive the competition.
  • Leveraging Supply Chains & Alliances
    By joining alliances, you have the power in your hand to negotiate with large vendors and create value where you would not have been able to in the past. Knowledge transfer from these associations can be leveraged to offer new allied services or source/manufacture new products. All these actions will help you create value for yourself and your customer. Aga Khan Economic Planning Board for India strongly suggests using online B2B platforms such as Udaan which would help you reduce your costs and also provide access to credit.
  • Go Digital
    The pandemic has opened up markets for businesses willing to invest in their online portfolios. Whether you’re a small business owner, self-employed, freelancer, etc. the world is your oyster. With several platforms available to market yourself online such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, etc. it is imperative to take even your traditional business online and have an online presence

    Emerging Sectors & Areas of Opportunity

According to professional recruitment services firm Michael Page India’s ‘Talent Trends 2021 Report’, technology and healthcare sectors witnessed significant activity even during the lockdown phase given the sudden increase in demand for relevant talent across functions. Hiring activities among internet-based businesses such as e-commerce and education technology remained relatively robust across India and is expected to maintain the momentum in 2021 as well. Aga Khan Economic Planning Board (India) has tie ups with many such online ed tech platforms which give teachers the flexibility to work just for a few hours a day from home and earn between INR 11,000 – 17,000 a month.

Sectors such as software-as-a service (Saas), health-tech, ed-tech, fintech and gaming have been seen rising demand for skilled manpower in Artificial intelligence, machine learning, cyber security, analytics-driven risk & digital marketing. While these are all good areas for job opportunities, there are meaningful opportunities within them for people across the value chain in these areas and members of the Jamat can also look at developing businesses around these sun-rise sectors.

Websites like Udemy & Coursera provide exhaustive courses in these areas at very low costs and can definitely be a great starting point to up skill yourself. LinkedIn also presents a great opportunity for you to show off your technical skills and create a following. Blogging about relevant matters in your field & interacting with thought leaders online and make your online presence felt will make you an indispensable member of your team/industry value chain.

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