Marketing in Micro-enterprise Development

Marketing is the most crucial sub-system of any enterprise. It is a social and managerial process by which individual or groups obtain what they need and want through creating, offering and exchanging products and services with others. In MEDEP, marketing is demand-driven and customer-focused. Customer satisfaction is the key to the marketing.

Marketing Strategy in MEDEP

Marketing is one of the most important components required for the sustainable operation of micro-enterprises. An entrepreneur needs to have a ` market-oriented approach ' at all levels and stages in the lifecycle of enterprise development. Most of the programmes geared towards poverty alleviation through micro-enterprise development and income generation basically focus on credit or skills training or entrepreneurship development training, technology support, etc. Unfortunately, enough attention is rarely paid to the marketing needs of the business.

The process of marketing involves three key steps. In the first step, buyers, their needs, tastes, and preferences are identified. In the second step, the needs, taste and preference, are converted into products. The final step is that of delivering these products to the customers or buyers. Customer satisfaction is vital in marketing process. This whole process thus is enterprise, consumer or demand-driven. Marketing strategy in MEDEP is demand-driven and customer-focused. Under the demand-driven marketing strategy, the Programme has been following marketing analysis and development, and step-wise gradual marketing expansion strategies for the selection, growth and sustainability of micro-enterprises.

Utilizing Local Resource

One of the reasons that the Programme chose to promote enterprises based on local resources was to optimally capitalize on the local resources that were previously underutilized or not utilized at all. The programme has focused on the utilization of these natural resources by processing them into semi-finished and finished products. The commercial utilization of natural resources has positive impact on the development of employment and income generation opportunities at the rural level. As a result, the community as a whole realized the importance and benefits of these natural resources. These resources were then used in a sustainable manner (regeneration, sustainable harvesting, etc.) for the future which consequently helped in the restoration and preservation of the resources and the environment.

Entrepreneurial Marketing

As entrepreneurs become capable and enterprises start to grow, the programme focuses more on the regional, national and international markets for market expansion and diversification. Considering the comparative advantages of the respective districts i.e. the geographical location, the population sizes, resource potentials, skills, accessibility etc., the enterprises with a competitive edge for vertical growth and integration with small and medium enterprises are developed.

Marketing Research and Sub-sector Studies

Based on the resource potential of MEDEP districts, sub-sector focused and product-specific market studies are also conducted as per programme needs. Objective-oriented survey formats for market studies are designed based on the demand and needs of identified markets. Some such studies carried out by MEDEP are:

  • Horticulture Sub-sector
  • Non-timber Forest Products (NTFPs)
  • Dairy Sub-sector
  • Ginger Production and Market Study
  • Pear Production and Market Study

A sub-sector-specific technology and market study is necessary for some high-value potential resources. A well-planned and growth-oriented vertically integrated resource-based enterprise could be highly potential in some areas benefiting the community as a whole.

Medicinal and Aromatic Herbs

The area potential, socio-economic and market survey reports of MEDEP showed high potential for Non-timber Forest Products (NTFPs) aromatic and medicinal herbs for most of the hilly districts of MEDEP. Besides agriculture and tourism, forest is one of the most potential sectors for economic development of the country. Looking into the marketing prospects of the forest-based producer, there is a tremendous scope for growth if potential areas of value addition could be identified. MEDEP has tried to link its entrepreneurs with consumers and industries that use NTFPs . The establishment of such linkage is one of MEDEP's important activities for the economic improvement of the hardcore poor.

Market Analysis and Development

As part of the marketing strategy for micro-entrepreneurs, the Programme has promoted the Market Analysis and Development (MA&D) approach which ensures that enterprise selection and development takes place through a methodical analysis of the business environment within which the enterprise will operate. This process aims to ensure sustainability through the selection of profitable enterprises.

Apart from considering only commercial aspects in conventional business planning, environmental, social, and gender aspects as well as existing institutions, the policy environment and potential technological linkages at the community, national and international levels are also assessed while conducting market analysis and development. It is a participatory process which analyzes the feasibility of all the enterprise from the view points of market, environment, society, institutions, and technology.

Marketing Focus

To ensure the sustainability of independent micro-entrepreneurs, the Programme has adopted primary marketing and future marketing strategies to match the marketing needs of micro-entrepreneurs.

Primary Marketing Strategy

Primary marketing strategy focuses on local/rural markets as entry markets to create immediate markets for micro-enterprise products. This creates immediate return on investment for micro-entrepreneurs and provides them assurance on sustenance through enterprise activity. The rural market focus also matches poor peoples' product for poor peoples' consumption. The strategy is to penetrate in the market for micro-enterprise products and to see the possibility of import substitution through locally available resources and skills. This strategy has helped in creating awareness in rural population about enterprises as an effective means of self-employment and employment generation for sustainable livelihood as an alternative to employment seeking.

Future Marketing Strategy

As enterprises begin to grow, they require looking beyond local markets, more on to the regional, national and international markets, for market diversification and expansion. Comparative advantage of the enterprise, economies of scale, and backward and forward linkages including technology, raw materials and market linkage at different levels become important for sustaining growth and expansion.

This dynamics occurs through formation of co-operatives, private business units and enterprise villages of similar commodities or multi-products. Such focus provides a basis for rural industrialization which will ultimately lead to the structured growth of micro-enterprises into small and medium enterprises. The Programme is also promoting e-marketing to reach out global market for product dissemination, sales promotion, and for feed-back on the product for quality improvement.




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