Upskilling becomes a priority for small business merchants in 2021: Report

In order to adapt to the new normal, entrepreneurs and small business merchants took to upskilling courses to survive in a fast-evolving digital environment

New Update
Digital skills

The pandemic brought in some unprecedented changes that impacted several industries across the economy, the MSME sector being one of the worst hit. With the onset of the lockdown, business operations of several traditional small businesses across the country were hampered. Additionally, the lack of digital presence played obstacle in business continuity. In order to adapt to the new normal, entrepreneurs and small business merchants took to upskilling courses which enabled them with the skills to survive in a fast-evolving digital environment.


As per data from a recent Instamojo report titled, ‘Indian e-commerce Outlook 2021’, upskilling programs are seeing a rising demand among small business owners in a post-pandemic world. The report predicts upskilling to become a priority for small businesses in 2021. Instamojo’s online skilling platform, Mojoversity reported a 9x increase in the active students (small business merchants) count, and an 11x increase in the number of merchants getting digitally certified in the last two quarters of 2020. Majority of the demand for these skilling programs were received from merchants in Tier II and III cities, with Ratnagiri, Raniganj and Kondotty featuring among the top 10 cities in terms of traffic on MojoVersity.

The MojoVersity platform currently has 9 courses that span various topics like GST, email marketing, sales funnels and even how to host webinars. Across 2020, the platform witnessed more than 40,000 new unique visitors, of which 30% were female learners. 42% of the learners chose to take up these skilling programs on their mobile devices. With more small businesses owners investing in skilling programs, this is a clear indicator of a growing interest to learn new subjects and expand skillsets.

The report also highlighted topic-specific trends among small businesses looking to upskill:

  • Financial discipline and fundraising have picked more interest in MSMEs since Jun’20. This could become a 2021 trend as MSMEs hit in 2020 will need fi­nancial support from Govt schemes and alternative sources. Before lockdown, around 30% queries were related to Financial discipline and fundraising which post unlock has gone up to 50%.
  • Business processes and systems is another category where expert interaction has seen double growth post unlock. MSME business owners realized that those working on better processes and systems will be able to get competitive advantage in cost and delivery and will help in better sustenance.
  • Digital technology adoption and automation is shaping up as a good category which includes e-commerce adoption, digital marketing, and implementation of digital tools and automation of business systems. MSMEs now realize that without digital it’s impossible to survive for long and compete in coming years.
  • Export and Import is also picking interest post lockdown and China trade loss is leading to India trade gain and proactive MSMEs are trying to leverage this opportunity

Sharing his thoughts on the importance of upskilling for small businesses, Akash Gehani, Co-Founder

& CEO commented, “While the pandemic has accelerated digitization, small businesses have also come to realize the importance of upskilling in order to keep pace with the fast evolving ecosystem. Be it digital marketing tools or managing accounts digitally, embracing change in the New Normal is key to business survival for a sector which is traditionally driven. At Instamojo, we have always worked towards supporting the growth of the MSME sector through digital solutions. Through our online skilling programs on the Mojoversity platform, we hope to enable small businesses with the skillset to sustain in a competitive online market.  Digital is the way forward, and upskilling will soon become a regular routine for small businesses to help them stay educated about the nuances of business, and grow better.”