Upskilling: The New Mantra for Small businesses

Small and medium scale businesses are upskilling themselves with online courses from Instamojo and Google to be adequately equipped to run businesses online.

Series of lockdowns in the pandemic that stretched over three to four months brought tremendous losses to the MSME ( Micro, Small and  Medium Enterprises ) sector. Though market restrictions have been lifted, the losses incurred during that period persist and are a huge blow for the MSMEs. With fresh new cases arising in 2021, the state government is looking forward to imposing lockdown again. Small and traditional businesses, to cope with the current pandemic, need to pivot their business operations to digital platforms or have a digital presence. Here, upskilling will play a major role.

As per the MSME Annual Report 2020-21, there are 63.4 million units of MSME businesses nationwide that contribute 30.27 percent to India’s GDP also  employing 120 million people, hence making this sector the bedrock of India’s growth. The MSMEs lack the digital know-how to operate a business online, accept payments online, marketing businesses online which stood as a hindrance for continuity of business for the MSME sector. To keep businesses afloat in such harsh times entrepreneurs and small business merchants are stepping forward to upskill themselves with the new skillsets and unlearning outdated business practices to survive in this fast-evolving digital world.


As per the MSME Annual Report 2020-21, there are 63.4 million units of MSME businesses nationwide that contribute 30.27 percent to India's GDP also  employing 120 million people

How will upskilling be beneficial for the MSMEs? 

The apprehensions of stepping out in the pandemic yet lingers at the back of people’s minds, due to which customers will continue online buying of groceries, non-essentials, appliances, etc. Here, small businesses should not fail to digitise their business operations. 

India’s biggest conglomerate Reliance has launched JioBusiness that offers enterprise grade-level fibre connectivity, digital solutions and devices to empower the micro small, and medium businesses. It aims to bring together 50 million medium and small-scale businesses online. 

Apart from conglomerates, B2B retail trade platform Udaan connects retailers and businesses to source merchandise from manufacturers, brands, white labels, importers, etc. on a single platform. It currently houses 30 lakh small and medium-scale businesses and retailers. Thus, small businesses need to upskill themselves to be able to run businesses online

What Upskilling initiatives Companies are providing for MSMEs? 


Instamojo, India’s largest on-demand payments and e-commerce platform for startups and MSMEs has launched MojoVersity an online skilling platform for small business owners to provide them with the digital knowledge to start a business online. The MojoVersity platform has a total of 9 courses that consists of essential topics such as GST, email marketing, sales funnels, hosting webinars, business accounting, public speaking, MS Excel, etc. According to a recent Instamojo report titled ‘Indian e-commerce Outlook 2021’ its online skill learning programme received 40,000 new unique visitors, out of which 30% were female learners. The platform also witnessed learners from merchants belonging to Tier-II and III cities. 42% of the learners chose to learn skilling programs on their mobile devices.

Google for Small Business

Similarly, tech giant Google, under the ‘Make small strong’ initiative, has launched Google for Small Business to upskill the small business owners with knowledge of digital skills and tools for free. The skills training is in the form of quick help videos that will aid the MSMEs to do business online. The skill courses are divided into three segments namely :  

  • Digital unlocked: Contains 90 self-paced video tutorials which offer quality training on a comprehensive set of topics right from building a web presence and driving online growth to reach customers over mobile to email marketing to social media marketing.
  • Primer App: It is a free educational mobile app that offers quick, bite-sized, jargon-free video lessons to help business owners and individuals learn new skills in digital marketing and business. The five-minute lessons cover topics like business planning, management, sales, customer satisfaction, online advertising, analytics, etc. 
  • Skill shop: To develop digital marketing skills, Skillshop has e-learning video courses ranging from Google ads to analytics to ad manager, where the learner gets certifications of the course completed.

Areas of Upskilling in which MSMEs are focussing on 

Instamojo’s report titled ‘Indian e-commerce Outlook 2021’ revealed MSMEs took interest in the below areas to upskill themselves

  • Financial stability was disrupted in 2020 for most small businesses. To insulate themselves from the cash crunch, MSMEs took interest in learning the aspects of financial discipline and fundraising. 
  • Simplifying business processes and systems has attracted MSMEs, as they have realised that improvement of work processes and systems will gain a competitive advantage in cost and delivery.
  • Digitisation in businesses such as digital marketing, e-commerce adoption, automation in business processes are garnering attention from MSMEs. They are realising that if your business does not have a digital presence, then it cannot survive in the long run. 
  • MSMEs are taking a keen interest in export and import business since the political tensions with China have strained. 

For the MSMEs  

Looking at the massive response of MSMEs willing to upskill themselves, these enterprises have showcased their willingness to learn new skillsets and ramp their business operations online. With a deluge of smartphones and cheaper internet plans penetrating deeper into rural India, there will be an increase in online shoppers. Thus, more and more MSMEs shall be interested in upskilling themselves with new skillsets to establish businesses online.  

Shalmoli Sarkar
Shalmoli Sarkar
An MBA in marketing and a BTech in chemical engineering, Shalmoli writes on marketing strategies and business technology for new and aspiring entrepreneurs.



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