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The fifth edition of the India SME Forum that took place at the ITC Kakatiya, Begumpet, Hyderabad on 6th September was attended by more than 293 SMEs from and around Hyderabad, including more than 50 women entrepreneurs. The forum saw a conglomeration of many SME based associations from Andhra Pradesh come together namely - ALEAP, APPMA, COWE, FAPSIA, FASMME, FIAAP and HMA. A wonderful & encouraging occurrence at this forum was the large contingent of women present. Ms. Hema Jain President, CEO Hyderabad Management Association welcomed the participating SMEs emphasizing about the importance of motivation & best practices amongst SMEs and a requirement for them to get organized and collectively find solutions. Mr. Satish Gottipati, Central Executive Committee Member & In-charge AP for FISME, explained how unity amongst the existing SMEs can strengthen them and has led by example by forming a joint action committee consisting of over 12 SME based local organisations. Mr. Vinod Kumar, Senior Partner, SDRC India highlighted as to how healthy the SME sector can get with increasing participation of women entrepreneurs in leading the sector to the next level. “Women bring a totally new dimension to how businesses are run”, he commented, “and increased business participation by women entrepreneurs can only be a positive change for the future”. The first session, consisting of Mr. Prahlad Kakar, Advertising Guru and Mr. Nikhi Nehru, Advertising & Communications Stalwart, was an in-depth discussion on Branding and Valuation, elaborating on targeted media campaigns for effective brand building and customer recall. Mr. Prahlad Kakar who was moderating the session, amongst a “house full” of SMEs spoke about “the need to recognize the challenges facing SMEs externally, wherein India Inc requires recognizing the growing strength and influence of China. They would need to partner with other global giants like Japan to grow and to retain the initiative. He further shared that Japan had made a massive investment in the Delhi to Mumbai industrial corridor and was actively seeking & setting up JVs with Indian SMEs, to create partnered growth. Also information on technology related to SMEs such as shared infrastructure management & Cloud Computing and Enterprise Mobility was shared by Mr. Shashi Ravulapaty, CTO, Reliance Capital and Mr. Srinath Nalluri , Enterprise Head, AP, Vodafone. The second and final session was on funding for SMEs - covering details like raising funds from IPOs, Debt Funding, Venture Capital/ Seed Funding /Growth Capital and Fiscal Discipline & Ratings. Amongst panellists present were Mr.Souvik Sengupta, CRO, SME Loans, Reliance Capital; Mr. Lakshman Gugulothu, Ex-CEO, BSE-SME Exchange; Mr. Dara Kalyaniwala, VP Investment Banking, PL Advisory Services; Mr. N. Muthuraman, Director, RiverBridge Investment Advisors Pvt. Ltd. and Mr. Vinod Kumar, Senior Partner, SDRC India, moderator of the Session. The session ended with lunch, during which special prizes like – GoAir Airline Tickets, India SME Forum T-Shirts and Reliance Commercial Finance sponsored Esprit brand watches were distributed, with lucky coupons drawn by other participants volunteering to do the draws. This inclusive and interactive “lucky draw” was a hit amongst the attendees.