Bharat Craft portal to help small businesses, especially rural and tribal communities sell their goods online, launched by the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in the second term of the Modi government. (Bharat Craft portal) was planned which has been postponed for now.Moneycontrol has got this information from sources.
After working on it for a year, the government decided in March 2021 to outsource the construction and operation of the portal to the private sector. But due to lack of interest from private companies, the project has been put on hold, confirmed several senior officials of the ministry.
The portal was first announced by the Ministry of MSME entrusted to Nitin Gadkari in August 2019 after getting approval from the Prime Minister’s Office. It was proposed to be based on the model of Government e-Marketplace (GeM), the public procurement portal of the Centre.
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However, unlike GeM accessible only to government buyers, Bharat Craft was planned to be open to all private consumers and was touted as a first foray into the e-retail space by the government.
What are the reasons behind it (Back and forth)
The background work on creating a suitable digital architecture for the website also remained unfinished as the ministry faced a challenge in selecting the technology partners. The plan to rope in a private tech developer faced cost constraints after the ministry approached State Bank of India (SBI) to jointly design and run the portal.
Thereafter SBI announced that it would take over the banking business of the operation. At the same time, the bank also clarified its intention to invest $ 10-15 million, but it also kept some of its conditions.
Lack of interest shown towards it
The Bharat Craft portal has also suffered due to the popularity of the bigger and better known GeM portal. Officials said that there was a long-standing proposal to merge the portal with GeM. But this was not possible due to the special nature of the code on which GeM is built.
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Confusion over the future of the portal kept private software developers and website operators away from it. A source said, “Many felt it was impossible to take charge of a portal like Bharat Craft. While there were reports at that time that GeM portal would soon allow private entities to make bulk purchases. It was later expanded to cater for petty purchases. ,
A cabinet note to this effect was also issued in late November 2019. But the Department of Commerce, which runs GeM, ultimately decided against the proposal itself.
The MSME sector accounts for 29 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and has given employment to about 11 crore people. Officials said that the government is currently looking to increase the share of GDP to 50 per cent and provide employment to 15 crore people in the coming five years. As a result, official interest in the portal may appear later on.