Approach

The dashboard will feature results from six cycles of surveys that will be conducted from May 2020 till August 2021.

Currently, data is available for the following four cycles conducted between May 2020 to January 2021:

Cycle 1: May to June 2020

Cycle 2: July to August 2020

Cycle 3: September to October 2020

Cycle 4 : December to January 2021


STORIES FROM THE FIELD

Everything is so uncertain that nothing can be said about the future. But, we are taking this as a long term process. We have to get through 4 more months. Nothing can be normal this year, but surely from 2021, we will be back on track!

Chandra, Karur District in Tamil Nadu

Survey Method

Our stratified, convenience sample was drawn from various sub-industries in manufacturing, services and trade to provide a sectoral representation of microbusinesses. The sample was selected from lists provided by partner organizations. The following regions and states are being covered in the survey:-

North region: Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, West region: Gujarat and Maharashtra and South region: Tamil Nadu. The surveys are translated into regional languages and administered remotely, over phone.


STORIES FROM THE FIELD

I borrow money from friends for purchasing stocks and I’ve taken gold loans to pay the salaries and maintenance bills. My problem is only 20% of customers pay immediately and the remaining 80% people purchase all on credit

Small grocery business owner from Thiruvallur in Tamil Nadu.


STORIES FROM THE FIELD

Despite this situation, laying off workers was not something I considered. Instead, I had a conversation with my workers about their preferences. Based on that discussion, I continue to pay 2 of my staff who were willing to come in to work and retained the others

Vengadesh – Owner welding workshop in the small town of Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu employs 7 people


STORIES FROM THE FIELD

Being a female, even life prior to lockdown was tough as domestic responsibilities are definitely a priority. I recall the struggle to convince my husband to let me start my own cloth bag business. Now when I employ 13 women and have trained 4000 women, he has started to support me in training and expanding more as he sees I'm doing well financially. Though, managing business is always interrupted by necessity to deal with household chores, so I wake up early at 5am to ensure I manage all domestic duties and then head to my shop at 9am.

Vidya Kirve, Satara Branch, Maharashtra

Financial Performance

Insights: The overall sales and profits of small businesses have increased over the period, but is still lower than the pre-lockdown (March 2020) levels.
Description: Businesses showcased growth (CAGR) in sales figures by 16.78%, and in profit by 9.04%. The overall business performance, meanwhile, painted a bleak picture where only 21% of the businesses stated that they are performing better than March 2020.

Cash reserves/personal savings

Insights: Cash reserves have been consistently depleted, eating up the personal savings of business owners.
Description: Cashflow disruption due to low sales has been reported as the biggest challenge across most enterprises. In the first cycle while 40% enterprises reported to have cash reserves, 65% of them reported to have used their personal savings to tide over the crisis, largely due to the government sanctioned lockdown. The businesses witnessed increased pressure in their cash reserves over the period and they had to rely on their personal savings to overcome the initial strains.

Employment across Industries

Insights: The rising trends in layoff figures correspond to the decline in availability of cash reserves while hiring seems more driven by actual/anticipated demand.
Description: Service sector firms reported higher layoffs as a correcting mechanism to tide over the crisis. Post this, they have been showcasing higher sales and profits and even tend to hire more in the future. Layoffs among manufacturing firms have been more consistent across the cycles, given the nature of the sector where labour-related compliances are higher. The intention to hire has also been consistent, after initial shocks in cycle 1, suggesting optimism.

Challenges to operate business

Insights: Across all cycles, low sales/customer footfall has been the greatest challenge for small businesses.
Description: The low sales and customer footfall has been a constant challenge for businesses from cycle 1, where 86% of business owners cited this as their major challenge, till cycle 4, where 72% of them cited the same. Shortage of raw materials was a bigger challenge in cycle 1 given the impact of lockdown, while petty cash management is reported to be a bigger challenge in cycle 3 given the vagaries of the sector. Inadequate working capital aligned with the pressures on cash reserves for the businesses.