Rising Steel Prices: Can Fintech save MSMEs in distress?

The Alumni Relations Committee of IIM Kashipur has served as a bridge to beget valuable insights about the role of Fintech in MSME from our erudite alumnus. This article covers the questions surrounding the issue of rising steel prices and how Fintech can save the MSMEs in distress.

A sharp rise in raw material prices, (especially steel) over the last few months has impacted the recovery of manufacturing, construction, and small and medium industries from the COVID-19 pandemic.  The MSME industry needs to provide steel at reasonable prices so that export competitiveness of value-added products is maintained

A sharp rise in raw material prices, (especially steel) over the last few months has impacted the recovery of manufacturing, construction, and small and medium industries from the COVID-19 pandemic.  The MSME industry needs to provide steel at reasonable prices so that export competitiveness of value-added products is maintained.

Fintech lending platforms have the ability to address the credit gap for small businesses. Most digital lending platforms which used to rely only on equity and debt capital are now also looking at post loan origination sources of capital such as securitization and direct assignment transactions to improve liquidity. The fintech, banks, and NBFCs will play a huge role in powering small businesses in the post-pandemic new world and will help in reviving the economies. These new and innovative lending models will not only strike a right balance between financial stability and growth but also encourage a focus on the credit needs of small businesses in the country and NBFCs and fintechs are considered as better equipped to support this endeavour.

To understand the reasons behind the bullish prices, we can look at some of the factors affecting the price of steel:

Supply And Demand-

As with any commodity, supply and demand is a huge factor that determines steel prices. The higher the demand and the lower the supply, the higher the price. As lockdowns were gradually eased and construction work resumed, steel prices started rising with the rise in demand.

Moreover, the prices of steel are determined not just by current supply and demand, but by forecasted supply and demand. The more information available, the better this can be predicted, and the less volatile prices will be. We must also strive to be aware of inventory in the supply chain in every link from the steel mills to the end-user.

Industry Trends-

Price is also influenced by the demand of the various industries steel is used for. If the auto industry is strong, for example, steel demand may be higher; the same goes for construction, packaging, and other businesses that rely heavily upon steel.

Costs of Materials-

Scrap metal and iron ore are two of the main materials used to create steel. If there is a limited amount of these resources available, demand exceeds supply, and the cost of materials will jump up.

Iron ore fetching a year-end price of $175 a tonne on the Dalian Commodity Exchange (DCE), is now the world’s best performing major commodity for the second year in a row. Indian Steel Association (ISA) calls for Government Intervention and demands a six-month ban on iron-ore exports, restriction of e-auction sale to steel- and pellet-makers. The Government suspects that the steel-makers might be indulging in the manipulation of production to lift prices, forming a cartel in the cement and steel industry. However, on the contrary, in the steel industry where two major players, namely, SAIL and Vizag Steel are government-owned are also a part of the same trend.

Costs of Shipping-

By the same token, materials used to create steel and finished goods can be costly to ship, a factor that may help determine the price.

Time of Year-

Time of year has its effect on many industries, and those that use steel are no different. Holidays, weather, and seasonal highs and lows affect the output of new products, either raising or lowering demand. Seasonality can impact shipping patterns and transit modes.

All these events have left the MSMEs in jeopardy. Nothing was happening for several months because of the pandemic. The projects were shut down or were on hold. The rise in steel prices is eating into their narrow margins making it more and more difficult for them to sustain. A big issue of MSME credit gap can be solved by fintech lending platforms if they are able to access reliable digital data sets that can assist with credit risk analysis and cash flow-based lending, the regulatory framework supports a low-cost KYC and customer onboarding process and if these platforms themselves are able to tap into a wider set of channels for their own sources of capital.

About the Author:

Mr. Shahrukh Khan, an Alumnus of IIM Kashipur who has completed his PGP in the year 2019 is currently handling the Product & Process – OfCommerce at OfBusiness. While at the campus, he has been a Class Representative and Joint Secretary of Wellness Coordinators. He has also represented IIM Kashipur in multiple TT Tournaments.

Management from a Homemaker’s Lens

The word Management as defined in the dictionary means the process of dealing and coordinating with people. Management is a never-ending loop that begins when one gets up in the morning and ends when one sets the alarm for the next day and goes to sleep.

 Management is always conceptualized as a fancy degree from a Business school and jargons like Presentations, Entrepreneurship, SWOT, ROI, etc. Management is inevitably present and significant in all these fields, but what we often forget is that management is applicable in all walks of life. It covers all facets of our lives. We ignore this fact because we have been so used to doing these roles that we have forgotten about the management nature. Even a trip to Goa with friends or relatives requires proper planning so to effectively manage one’s schedule for an enriching experience.

 If we deep dive into our daily life schedule, I see my mother implementing all my MBA lessons in some way and the best part is though those decisions or acts of her do not bring any life-changing decisions but are pivotal for the smooth functioning of the house.

 The duties of a homemaker are frequently looked down upon, but as we look closely, we can see that becoming a homemaker demands immense management skills. One of the most difficult examples of management is managing an entire family, taking care of everyone’s special needs, settling petty conflicts among children, maintaining the bonds intact, ensuring food is prepared on time. All this might sound so simple when we compare it to the life of an MBA graduate but it is equally challenging and complex.

 If we draw an analogy between the life of a manager and a homemaker, it is quite indistinguishable. The only difference is the nature of the work they both execute. Just like in an organization, A manager is the one responsible for streamlining the tasks, planning things ahead of time so that the needs of the clients are fulfilled on time, and addressing the grievances of its employees. In the same fashion, Homemakers must plan for the whole family, predict future challenges, multitask and make the most use of their resources, and be armed with plans for any last-minute hiccups.

 Let us take a few examples where we see homemakers implementing various concepts of MBA.

 Before buying any vegetable, she does a SWOT analysis for it and checks for if it is the best available product in the market.

She keeps a close record of all house expenses and makes sure every expense is recorded and gets tallied with the money she has in hand. In some or the other way, she exhibits great accounting skills.

She doesn’t have a degree but yes she is a perfect manager and a successful leader.

About the Author
Sakshi Poddar a Computer Science Engineer by qualification is now pursuing MBA(Analytics from IIM Kashipur. She is a part of various student bodies like the Media and Public Relations Committee and Admission Support Body. She is an IT professional with 2 years of experience in Hewlett Packard Enterprise. She loves traveling and dancing. You can connect with her on LinkedIn

Management is an Art!

There are many B-Schools to provide you with the Knowledge of Management but is that enough? Is knowing it all enough? I believe it’s not. To be a successful manager you need to possess the art of applying the right knowledge (the craft), at the right time (the vision) and most essentially, delivering efficiently to the right people (the communication). Books and professor’s knowledge can tell you what different tools and frameworks you can use but which to apply where needs an understanding so deep it will be a tragedy to not call it an art.

A good manager must also have imagination and the audacity to redesign their organisations or the way they work, just as an artist needs vision, and a strong commitment to realise them.

One may argue about the new and improving scientific methods being taught to and applied by the up-and-coming managers for better decision making, or about those skills to derive unexpected success by making probable failure surrender to competence and nerve. But Management has always been more than that. Not all great students have been great managers, and not all great managers have started strong. It takes more than just the technical skills and intuition to be a good manager.

To be a good business manager, one needs to perfect their skills in dealing with people and express themselves verbally, just as an artist needs to master his craft. 

Moreover, just like the art has no right or wrong similarly the managerial decisions can’t be labelled correct or incorrect. In fact, in management failures can lead to new opportunities. There is no perfect formula for success.

Therefore, I strongly believe that Management is an Art and the artist needs to keep on practicing the art to achieve the epitome of success in the career.

About the Author:
Dr. Ankita Gabhane, Dentist is pursuing MBA from IIM Kashipur. She is an active member of different student bodies like the Cultural Committee and Admissions support body. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

Narrowing the gender gap and inculcating an inclusive environment at IIM Kashipur

While the gender gap and career development opportunities continue to provide barriers for women around the world, business schools are taking measures to ensure that women are more motivated than ever before and given the resources required to ensure they reach the top of their chosen profession. As a female student, I take immense pride to be part of an institution that has made constant efforts since its inception to enhance gender diversity and have left no stone unturned when it comes to what the MBA has to offer. 

Being a part of this prestigious institution, I have realised that the learnings as well as achievements are not restricted to be just classroom specific. All my female batchmates have shown active and equal participation on and off-campus, be it representing the institution in various B-schools & Corporate Competitions and emerging as the National Finalists and National Winners or running the campus along with their male counterparts through several clubs and committees while heading a few. 

It is the ripple effect of the combined efforts of all the women who joined IIM Kashipur and paved the path for equivalence, that the batch of 2020-22 witnessed a growth rate of 186 per cent in the number of female students joining the institution, compared to the previous batch. The current batch has a healthy representation of female students from 20 states and union territories across the country. To promote gender diversity, the institute has continued its initiative of sanctioning 15 supernumerary seats for women.

While we are on the subject of gender diversity, it is of utmost importance to realise and strike a healthy balance between the genders and promote growth, inclusivity and responsible management to ensure we give back to the society, future leaders who can inspire and set examples for the next generation of gender-inclusive leadership.

The vision set for students, is towards attempting for gender hypervisibility to be diminished and eventually disappear. At IIM Kashipur, we have come together in an attempt to develop leaders irrespective of the gender they belong to, who are not only mindful of the differences but also involve all categories of social distinction, so that they become leaders who form a workplace that is inclusive and equitable for all. 

About the Author:
Payal Singh, a Production Engineer by qualification is currently pursuing MBA (Analytics) from IIM Kashipur.  She is a part of  Team Insite- Admission Support Body of IIM Kashipur. You can connect with her on Linkedin.

How to ace Summer Internships from the lens of an ICICI PPO holder

The batch of 2020-22 is looking forward to their internships amid all the uncertainties around. Hopefully, this little helping hand from my experience and learnings of my internship with ICICI Bank Ltd. will help you plan your internship better, especially if you are looking to secure a PPO:

1. Understand your deliverables: Be clear with the deliverables and expectations of your project. It is better to know your focus areas in the deliverables.

2. Schedule to finish your SIP deliverables in 6 weeks: If you are on two months SIP, keep the last two weeks for any unforeseen issues, prepare your presentation, practice it and present it to your mentor before your final presentation.

3. Listen to as many employees as possible: You might be new to an industry and organization. It is tough without the experience of people inside to comprehensively complete your deliverables. Hence, listen to as many associated departments and employees as to widen your understanding. 

4. Let your guide keep track: Most of the time, your mentors might also be busy with their routine work. You must update your day-to-day work to them. You can share a tracker sheet where you can update your work regularly. Also, it is good practice to share your weekly reports and presentation.

5. Maintain your relations: While you connect to many employees in the organization, your approach, behavior, and people management are widely noticed and sometimes regarded above your work. Hence, maintain good relations with people around, especially with your guide and manager.

6. Keep your references handy: During your story creation, back your thought process with your research reference. It adds credibility to your ideas, highlights your understanding, and shows your work.

7. Focus on Story Line: During your final presentation, focus on your story and inferences along with relevant data. Try not to pack your presentation slides with data. Also, mention your challenges and learnings from your internship towards the end of your presentation.

With these tips, I wish good luck with your SIP to the whole of the bright minds of batch 20-22. Hope to see you all on the other side with a PPO.

About the Author:

Vineeth Rao Sudhati is a student of MBA, batch of 2019 -21 from IIM Kashipur with majors in Operations and Marketing. He is a part of various student bodies like the Alumni Relations Committee and Prep Cell. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

Acing the Cases – From the Horse’s Mouth

Case competitions are an integral part of B School life- not only because you get a kind of exposure but also the enormous amount of learning involved with it. Undoubtedly, academics form the basic ingredient of B School but also fine-tune yourself by participating in several International, National & Corporate Competitions. In one such international competition I participated (Zurich Enterprise Challenge), we did not manage to get into the Semi finale stage, but the problem statement was what attracted us the most. The statement demanded the vision for businesses & multinational enterprises post-Covid world.

Amidst the cramped schedule of a B School life, you would not get the time to do all the cases and do proper justice to them. So, picking and choosing the cases becomes a key aspect. “Pick a case and absolutely slaughter it” – should be the mantra. This indeed goes a long way, as a proper approach to a case requires a lot of research and groundwork & it effectively drains out oneself. Picking up simultaneous case competitions will not be a smart choice as the effort gets divided. There’s no fixed one-size-fits-all for the competitions. The main aim of competition varies on a case-to-case basis – sometimes it’s the PPO/PPI/ personal brand building, sometimes it’s the brand and sometimes it’s just the learning one can get by participating in it.

During my 2 years in IIM Kashipur, one thing I effectively learned is “perseverance holds the key to success.” In the first year, I did not participate much effectively in competitions except the only one in which our team won the title of National Winners in IIM Trichy. I felt that with the second year in the fold, it was wise to participate in the competitions that were restricted only to the first years. 

In the second year, it becomes clearer as the domain gets selective – for example, in the second year, I mostly participated in Marketing, Consulting, and Strategy competitions. Moreover, you learn a lot from your mistakes, in fact, the bitter pills you swallow shape up for the upcoming ones. In one such corporate competition organized by Infosys, a minor mistake from our end did cost our entry to the next round. So, these competitions, indeed serve as a replica, to what one might expect from the corporate world – “there are no free lunches incorporated.” One great aspect of participating in various case competitions is that you get to know in-depth about specific sectors you work in while preparing for the cases. The cases are handpicked live industry cases where the participants work towards developing a feasible and sustainable solution.

Lastly, one key aspect of nailing case competitions is having a core team that is well aware of their capabilities & weaknesses. There would be issues cropping up, arguments but the key is the light at the end of the road – a potentially feasible solution. A good team can indeed be a game-changer. Everybody must have set, defined roles within the team.

With this, I ended up with 2 National Winners, 2 Runners Up, 1 National Semi-finalist, and 3 National Finalists in my tally. Of course, you win some and lose some, but the key thing is “Never Stop, Never Settle.” The entire journey of participating in several competitions (National/ Corporate/ International) plays a pivotal role in shaping up one’s journey. For me, it was about going beyond the stereotypes, building and rebuilding myself. Always remember “What brought you here, won’t take you there.”

Each individual has a different story to tell, but selecting the right atmosphere is of utmost essential. I would like to thank IIM Kashipur and the stakeholders for putting up commendable effort and providing individuals with the right kind of atmosphere in which they can rebuild and transform themselves throughout their stay.

About the Author:
Rahul is an Electronics & Communication Engineer by qualification & completed his MBA from IIM Kashipur (19-21 batch). He has been recognized as the Top 100 Competitive Business Leaders’2021 by Dare2Compete and has been featured in Forbes India. He is an IT professional with 2 years of experience in Cognizant. In his past time, he likes solving puzzles & binging on OTT platforms. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

FPM Perspective-Qualitative reflections of a Quantitative Researcher

Being a civil engineer who pursued an MBA in Operations Management, followed by enrollment as an FPM student in the Operations Management area, I had always classified myself as a person who was more (or only) inclined towards quantitative research. I always recognized and was fascinated by the power of numbers.  

Then, in January 2018, We, a group of 15 research students, entered the qualitative research methods class. Some of us were excited about the qualitative aspect of research, and some were absolutely disinterested; I am ashamed to admit that I, then, belonged to the second category. I later realized that I had been keeping a blind eye towards the ‘dark’ aspect of numbers. I, in no way, wish to belittle the quantitative – orientation of research, but qualitative research is beautiful in its own way. The qualitative research articles, if well written, provide a vivid image of the phenomenon that leads the audience to discover deep meanings of human experiences.  

I now understand that a good researcher should learn about both paradigms. The qualitative and quantitative approaches have distinct and complementary strengths. Both come with a different set of challenges and require different skills to overcome those challenges. For example, as a qualitative researcher, I can always adopt a grounded perspective where I do not need to identify the dependent and independent, nor do I necessarily need to propose hypotheses. My primary responsibility as a  qualitative researcher is to capture individuals’ hidden meanings and explore the phenomena’  possibilities, but it is easier said than done. The experience is like deep-sea diving; we know we are looking for something, but we do not actually know what we are looking for.  

During this journey, I came to realize the beauty and power of text. Sometimes I can feel the ‘dryness’  associated with the numbers in quantitative articles because numbers in no way explain the human feelings that should have been captured. I now recognize and appreciate the mental and emotional strength of qualitative researchers because I believe that risks and concerns are more significant in qualitative research, mainly because of the researcher’s level of involvement with the research process and the participants.  

If I am asked to clarify my stand regarding which type of researcher I would classify myself, I will find myself in a great dilemma. I would instead argue that one should appreciate the different values which are drawn out of the two different paradigms. A researcher who has familiarized himself with both the frameworks may develop a more profound intellectual capability. Reflecting on my learnings over the past years, I can conclude that I have developed more patience, and my inclination towards sheer objectivity has reduced. I have indeed developed slight but noticeable acceptance towards subjectivity and abstraction. I have grown to realize that there will always be things that can never be measured or analyzed quantitatively.  

Today, almost three years later, my qualitative exposure surely helps me reflect on the quantitative work better. 

About the author:

Taab Ahmad Samad is currently a Ph.D. Student (Operations Management) from IIM Kashipur. He is currently working in the field of crowdsourced logistics. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

Acquiring PPO in Flipkart by acing Flipkart Wired 4.0

Corporate competitions had always been a key area of focus in my MBA journey as they gave me a platform to take my classroom knowledge to the real world. Having worked in a fortune 500 organization I was always fascinated with the use of technology to elevate the human experience and hence E-Commerce was a domain of my interest. When Flipkart launched its flagship B-School competition Wired I pounced on the opportunity to apply my acquired management knowledge backed up with my technical skills to solve challenges faced by a giant like Flipkart. Since I was preparing for this competition for a long time (and well yes, the chance of scoring a PPO made it more lucrative), I was closely following the developments in the E-Commerce supply chain industry regularly. After understanding that how crucial E-Commerce had become to an average Indian in the times of COVID-induced lockdown, I wanted to dive deep into the sector and develop models on how E-Commerce can penetrate in a challenging country like ours.

The case competition required us to develop a model using which Flipkart could cater to the Tier 2 Indian customers with their day-to-day purchase needs. Understanding the importance of this problem statement in the context of Flipkart’s business situation and the national lockdown scenario, our team’s objective was to design an easy to implement supply chain model that could be easily replicated across the country within a time frame of 1 year. After clearing a series of rounds our team had the absolute delight to reach the national semifinals of this coveted competition. The very fact that this competition provided me with a platform to present my solutions and ideas to the top leadership of a dynamic organization like Flipkart tremendously added to my learning curve.

Having missed a chance to be a part of the National Finals, I was overwhelmed when I was called up for an interview with Flipkart in the form of a pre-placement interview (PPI). Well as Flipkart rightly claims “Ab har wish hogi poori” they certainly fulfilled my wish by providing me a chance to kick start my career with an organization like theirs. The interview process which had three rounds (a general aptitude test followed by 2 rounds of interviews) gave me enough opportunities to understand how I as an individual could contribute to Flipkart (technically and behaviorally). The interviewers were very keen on understanding what skill sets I bring to the table and what do I look for in terms of growth and opportunity. After those three rounds of virtual interactions, I finally got to experience that most sought-after day of MBA life when finally Flipkart offered me THE job!

The entire experience of participating in corporate competitions, learning bit by bit in each of them is a continuous journey. A journey that I believe is different for every individual. I cannot be thankful enough to be a part of an institute like IIM Kashipur where the entire atmosphere focuses on making you ready for real-world challenges. With competitions taking the center stage of academic focus it was my institute that played the pivotal role in grabbing my dream job opportunity.

About the author :
Pranav Bhardwaj is currently pursuing MBA from IIM Kashipur, with majors in Analytics and Marketing. He is a part of various student bodies like the The Consulting & Strategy Club, TEDx IIM Kashipur and Prep Cell. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

Journey of Self development in IIM Kashipur

“It is not the destination where you end up but the mishaps and memories you create along the journey that matters” aptly summarizes what my MBA journey at IIM Kashipur has been about. Stepping into the college for the first time in June of 2019 with a feeling of fear and uncertainty surrounding my mind, I did not know that these 2 years were going to be so much important and impactful in my life. And now when I look back at this time, I realize it could not be more perfect!

It started with me performing poorly in different tasks given to us during the induction program, not able to catch up with the case study discussions happening in the classroom, and not able to manage my time for anything. Amongst all this mess, I was just waiting for that one moment that would help me change this downward trajectory. But as it is famously quoted that you have to create the opportunity yourself, I decided to do the same by contesting for Class Representative Election. Considering my performance so far in college, I was in self-doubt about whether I really deserved it but still I wanted to give my best and I did. Results? I lost, by a close margin but still, it became the turning point of my MBA life. It gave me the head start and self-confidence I was looking for and after this, there was no looking back. In a span of 2 months, I became a part of 3 different student bodies I wanted to get associated with eagerly, namely The Finance Club, Parwaaz- The Dramatics Club, and Team Insite – Admissions Support Body. Adding to this, I also joined the newly opened IIM Kashipur’s Toastmasters Club and became the Vice President – Education. Apart from this, I being a finance enthusiast and having a commerce background were able to help my colleagues in finance subjects by taking peer learning sessions. I became a part of the organizing team of Uttishtha – Annual entrepreneurial fest of IIM Kashipur and became one of the scholarship holders offered by the college. It was a great feeling.

Considering everything that I have done or been a part of, I would not say that it was easy or just fun. It was difficult. If something makes you compromise your health and sleep and forces you to miss your meals, it is challenging. Yet, it was interesting. The 2 major learnings that I had from this course were first, a realization that 24 hours exist, and every minute can be counted and utilized. Second, you can push the limits to infinite if you wish to do so.

It did change the course of my life for good and had such a vibrant and bold impact on me that even though it is over, it does not seem to be. Every day when I wake up, I think a new semester would begin and emails would start coming only to realize that my MBA is completed!

About the author :
Puneet Garg is currently pursuing MBA from IIM Kashipur, with majors in Finance and Marketing. He is a part of various student bodies like The Finance Club, Dramatics Club, and Team Insite-Admissions Support Body. He is fond of origami art and reading novels. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

Journey of winning ‘ICICI Bank Beat the Curve 2019’ – A step towards being 4th in D2C Competitive B schools 2021

From the beginning of the campus rounds, we focused on the aspect of bringing the youth’s (millennial) perspective to our case solution. For the competition, ICICI Bank Beat the Curve 2019, we chose to suggest an innovative product that will help attract people from 20 to 30 years of age towards the services of the Bank.  

The Challenge

We started by gathering a lot of primary data by getting responses from more than 1000 individuals of varied age groups and localities. The competition had three stages – a campus round, Stage 2 (semi-final), and a Final round. We spent close to 20 hours on the semi-final and the final rounds. The mentorship provided during the semi-final round was particularly very useful. There we understood what aspects of our solution we need to focus upon.

The Winning team – Team Ideates

There were 6 teams who made it to the Grand finale of the competition. They were from institutes like IIFT, FMS, JBIMS, IIM R, etc. During the presentations of the final round, we particularly felt that the team from JBIMS had put in a lot of research in building their solution. But we were confident about our solution as well as the presentation. Both Shubham and I were part of a winning team even in the first year of our MBA. The experience and learning during that competition certainly helped us here. We had confidence in each other. While preparing for the presentation, we helped each other out in finding faults critically and correcting each other. One of us was a late-night worker and the other was an early bird. Instead of quarreling over finding a common time to work, we took it as a plus point. We worked over this across time, building on each other’s work and just cross-checking before submitting the work when we were short on deadlines!

The moments that mattered

The panel of judges was from the leadership team at ICICI Bank. The competition had a unique and amazing judgment criterion. Along with the jury panel, the audience that comprised 50 senior-level executives of ICICI Bank, scored the different teams on 4 parameters. It was based on parameters like research depth, presentation quality, innovation of the solution, and the QnA round. One key learning in this competition was that the delivery of your presentation is as important as the hard work done while building the solution. Also, it is important that you look at your solution from the audience’s perspective. This helps you judge your own presentation before anyone else does! Well, there were two amazing moments for us. One was during the QnA, where we could justify a question put up by a senior executive sitting in the audience. Later, when we took our seats after the presentation, he came to us and praised our solution. That was really reassuring. The second was obviously during the declaration of results when our team, ‘Team Ideates from IIM Kashipur‘ was announced as the National Winners of ICICI Bank Beat The Curve 2019 and we were called on stage!

About the Author:
Chirag Dixit, MBA from Indian Institute of Management Kashipur and currently works with Bloomberg in their Financial Products team.
He has also been a part of the Placement Committee of the institute for both years and has worked in fostering relationship between the institute and industry on various levels. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.