2024 ICSB Top Trends for MSMEs

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Introduction to 2024 ICSB Trends

ICBS, or the International Council of Small Business, is an international membership organisation that promotes the growth and development of small businesses worldwide. It is a platform for educators, policy-makers, researchers and practitioners worldwide to share knowledge and expertise in their respective fields through publications, programs, workshops, training sessions and certifications. ICBS, through their rigorous research and analysis, comes up with top trends that shape the current and future business world. These trends capture the long-lasting principles and new and innovative concepts that define the coming year’s business environment. These trends are collective knowledge from world business leaders, entrepreneurs and researchers. ICSB trends for SMEs are not just a peek into the future but a guidepost for growth, innovation, and resilience opportunities.

Digital Transformation in MSMEs

India is way ahead in its digital journey, with over 751.5 million internet users at the beginning of 2024 and home to 462.0 million social media users.  This robust digital ecosystem is boosting the socioeconomic growth of the country and cultivating competitiveness in the MSME sector. Limited digital access has been one of the barriers hindering the growth of MSMEs, requiring attention from the government. Through their continuous efforts, MSMEs have been increasing their digital footprint to have better access to the global marketplace, training and learning and instilling transparency and accountability in their process. The time has come to do more. According to the ICSB 2024 trend, AI will transform the current business landscape altogether. AI’s influence has significantly reshaped operations, decision-making processes, and customer interactions. AI can be a powerful tool for MSMEs for data-driven insights, supply chain optimisation, and personalised customer engagement, enabling them to compete in local and global markets. 

Gen-AI or generative AI is one of the most significant technologies in the current AI. It has given birth to a new workforce that works in symbiosis between human labour and intelligent machines. GEN-AI has natural fluency with technology and AI-driven tools, which makes them adaptable to changing business environments and a valuable contributor across various industries. This makes AI a vital tool for MSMEs, and there is a growing need to invest in AI education and upskilling. MSMEs can unlock new avenues of growth and development, enhance competitiveness, and stay ahead of the curve by using AI-driven tools and technologies in their business and processes. 

Sustainable Business Practices

Circular Economy Business Models are one of the top business trends for MSMEs, and they involve reimagining linear supply chain models and product lifecycles to create more sustainable and waste-reducing business models and approaches. This underscores and aligns with a growing commitment to sustainability, which is the need of the hour and an increasing trend in global markets. The MSME operations in India align and recognise the importance of these circular economy models. 

One of the most popular trends that MSMEs worldwide are adopting is product design recyclability, meaning creating products that can be easily disassembled, and then the dissembled parts are recycled. This minimises the waste generation and promotes sustainability. Moreover, MSMEs are also looking to refurbish and resell their products, increasing their lifespan and reducing the need to manufacture new parts. Collaboration with other enterprises to reuse and recycle materials is also one of the growing trends in the global market. These innovative ways to reduce waste and their carbon footprint and, by doing so, contribute to a more circular and ecological economy. These business models are not just environmentally responsible but also reduce manufacturing costs,  improve the brand’s image and identity and increase their competitiveness.

Remote Work and Flexible Work Arrangements

COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill with no movement or reduced movement, impacting the workforce globally with all the employees working remotely except in essential sectors like healthcare. After the pandemic, many companies globally have shifted to a remote working model for their employees to ensure business sustainability. With their ability to adapt to new business environments, MSMEs can benefit from such a business model, provided they have excellent digital infrastructure. The remote work option improves the employees’ work efficiency. The staff who are satisfied with their work automatically perform better. This also reduces the cost invested in employees and allows enterprises to hire from a wider talent pool. This is especially advantageous when finding and keeping talented people is challenging. This can be advantageous to MSMEs in India, where skilled labourers always look for corporate opportunities that ask them to relocate to offices in urban cities. Offering remote work can attract those people and increase the professional workforce in the MSME sector. 

Supply Chain Resilience

MSMEs are vulnerable to a sudden standstill of the supply chain, as happened during the pandemic. They had order cancellations from the customer side. Also, the supplier capacity was reduced due to a complete shutdown, staff absenteeism due to sickness, government policies like lockdown and supply disturbances due to a shortage of raw materials. Delivering to customers was also tricky, leading to most of the products rotting in storage. New ways can be adopted to make MSMEs more supply-chain resilient. The supply chain is the need of the hour and a leading Small business industry trend in 2024. MSMEs can use various new ways to develop resilience. This can be achieved by the range of risk-management strategies built into MSMEs business structures. Some of them include increasing collaborations with other MSMEs, which are geographically distributed in different states, having multiple and flexible sourcing options and building a chain of diverse customer bases so that even if an order is cancelled, another customer can be found. 

Financial Inclusion and Access to Capital

MSMEs have always struggled to have access to capital easily. Complicated paperwork, high interest rates, and the need for collateral are a few of the reasons that block the easy access of capital to MSMEs. In light of these conditions, sustainable finance has emerged as one of the top 10 ICSB trends for SMEs. Sustainable finance is a set of norms, regulations, and products that encourage financial returns and social and environmental objectives. High interest rates and ecological concerns are the dual sword that MSMEs have to fight while competing in the global market. Innovative financial solutions and products are now helping MSMEs fight global market competition by providing green and flexible financial options. This trend helps in the growth of resilience and responsibilities among MSMEs, which, in turn, allows them to be more adaptable to market shifts and complacent environmental mandates while earning profit. 


Also Read:

The Best And Worst For Indian MSMEs In 2024


The world is forever changing. Keeping in touch with every change can be challenging but MSMEs have not failed in this challenge in any way. This new time presents a new challenge to the interconnectedness of economic prosperity and environmental sustainability. MSMEs can stay ahead of the curve if they follow the popular trends in the global market and educate themselves. Moreover, these cannot just be achieved through the efforts of the MSME sector; government intervention and assistance play a significant role in the success of MSMEs in the global market. More changes in the policies and adapting to sustainable finance by the government can act as a game changer for the survival of MSMEs in the global market.

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Arpita Rathod Placement Representative
Arpita is a seasoned financial content writer with a specialized focus on Goods and Services Tax (GST). With a deep passion for the world of taxation and a Master's in English Literature, her specialization lies in taking challenging topics from diverse fields and breaking them down into digestible, engaging narratives.

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