Dream of a startup is shattered’: TN entrepreneur tells Rahul Gandhi at MSME meet


A video going viral is of Raghunathan from the Consortium of Indian Association, voicing his pain of how entrepreneurs of micro industries are struggling.

“Today, the dream of a startup is shattered. We are not able to raise our voice, we are not able to express ourselves, we are not being heard. We are not able to convey our pain. An entrepreneur can never ever cry openly.” These are the words of KE Raghunathan from the Consortium of Indian Associations, and the CMD of Solkar Solar Industry.

An entrepreneur, Raghunathan was at the gathering of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) representatives in Coimbatore, which Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi met and addressed on Saturday.

Rahul Gandhi kicked off the party’s three-day campaign in Tamil Nadu ahead of the state’s Assembly elections. He is set to cover districts including Coimbatore, and Erode, in western parts of the state, popularly known as the ‘Kongu’ region.

However, the video that is now going viral is of Raghunathan voicing his pain of how entrepreneurs of micro industries are struggling.

“What are we witnessing in this country? We moved from Skill India, Digital India, Make in India, Atmanirbhar [Bharat], and finally ended where? Fund India, which is FDI [Foreign Direct Investment]. We are opening up, asking others to give us money,” he told Rahul.

He added that out of 7.5 crore small entrepreneurs, almost 30% of enterprises are dead. This, he said, was 2.1 crore people, and the enterprises’ employs almost 20 crore people.

Raghunathan says that entrepreneurs like him from micro industries are being chased by banks and NBFCs, and that the newspaper is filled with option sale notices and financial position notices. He believes that micro industries must have its own ministry.

Speaking to TNM, Raghunathan said everything he said he spoke from his heart, and has come from the feelings of the people he has spoken to from the organisation he represents.

“Nothing has been done so today we are all facing problems. It’s not possible that every issue goes to the Supreme Court. Even in the Supreme Court, the verdict on interest has not been declared. It has been going since September. Do you think the banks are keeping quiet?” he asked.

Talking about the problems of the sector, he said, “They [the government] have not consulted us, they have not given us an opportunity to express our problem. That’s why I spoke my mind.”

He said that he would have said the same at a conference of the Union government as well, and his job is to convey the problem.

“Whoever wants to solve it can raise it at the appropriate level to do so, but it has to be solved. If it is not solved inflation will be the highest in this country and NPAs will be the highest, unemployment is the highest. That’s all I’m concerned about,” he said.

Raghunathan’s comments also come ahead of the Union Budget, with many expectations riding on steps the Union government will take to revive the economy. This comes after the economic stimulus package was announced last year.

When asked about expectations from the Budget, Raghunathan wants the government to address issues of micro-enterprises who continue to be hounded by banks that would rather invest in digitisation than in lowering interest rates. He also hopes the Budget will have something for startups whose plans have been derailed because of the pandemic, while also addressing unemployment.

When asked about the Congress party leader’s reaction post the event, Raghunathan said that Rahul told him that he opened his eyes.

‘He told me ‘The entrepreneur cannot cry openly is not something I thought about before. That is something I learned today’,” Raghunathan added. 



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