Women Print Entrepreneurs – Challenges During and Post Covid-19

The Offset Printers Association (OPA) organized a thought-provoking Webinar with Women Print Entrepreneurs on May 1, 2020- the Labour Day. 

The Webinar focused on challenges during Covid-19 and the plans of survival in post pandemic days. The talk was initiated by Prof. Kamal Chopra, General Secretary, OPA and Chairman, PAMEX. The session was moderated by Dr. TKS Lakshmi Priya, Professor- Printing Tech, Avinashilingam University. The speakers included Ms. Nandhini Shankar, Classic Creator; Ms. Kavita Thaker, Geetanjali Commercial Pritners; Ms. Jumi Deka Choudhary, Rumi Jumi Enterprise; Ms. Mrunal Rajesh Kulkarni, Keetronics; Ms. Archana Gore, Prime Enterprises; Ms. Sanaa Hamid Vasi, TRIACE; Ms. Sonal Sheth, Daya Sheth Printograph and Ms. Rajalakshmy Madhusoodan, Akshara Offset. 

Giving a snippet of the Indian Printing Industry, Prof. Chopra stated that Printing in its initial days started as an art form, but soon took the shape of technology. “Chemistry and Science was implied to make it more useful and since then we have come a long way where Printing is a part of day to day life,” he said. 

Dr. Lakshmi put forward the question on how women power can be strengthened in the Printing Industry, to which Ms. Sonal Sheth, Director, Sheth Printograph replied, “We need to create strategies to promote women join printing industry. Presently most of the women are into support systems, which primarily includes admin and HR departments. Infact changes are required at the education level where women are encouraged to take up mechanical and technical studies and later enter into these departments of the industry. More stories of women in print needs to be shared so that more are encouraged to enter the field.”

Ms. Kavita from Geetanjali, a commercial printing company, then took over to talk about the post Covid-19 challenges. “We need to learn new things everyday. Post Covid-19, we will have to look for new resources for our business. Our staff will join back after a long gap and so to bring back the old routine and streamlining their jobs will be a challenge. Another big challenge will be of collecting payments from our clients,” she said.

Adding to this, Ms. Rajalakshmy, Akshara Offset said, “There will be more scope for online form of business. We might see a decline in print volumes as we will not have many events happening around. The office stationery will also lessen with digital alternatives more in demand. Post Covid-19, we should not look for new business at least for 6 months. And yes, we should focus on digitalization. The inputs from China may lessen and that will bring several challenges as well as will open new opportunities.”

According to Ms. Nandhini Shankar, Classic Creator, people today are scared of losing jobs. The human support system has to be strong. Agreeing to other speakers, she stated that the printers need to be more technical and use digital format of designing and printing.

Ms. Jumi Deka, Rumi Jumi Enterprise, said that she is planning to diversify her business to fight post Covid-19 challenges. “We also have some permanent customers and we believe that they will help us survive through these times,” she added. 

Ms. Archana, Prime Enterprises, deals in printing materials.  According to her, it would be wise for printers to delay their expansion plans, if any and also asked people to hold on new investments. “We will need to broaden our product portfolio,” she suggested. 

Ms. Sanaa Vasi, TRIACE, spoke about human support and relation maintenance within the organization in these challenging times. “The owners need to share about company’s condition with the staff and also act with humanity,” she said.  

Ms. Mrunal, Keetronics, is into the field of Print Electronics. “Resuming and assuring the staff of a safe environment will be a challenge,” she feels. “The collection of funds from customers will be a major task. We might also face difficulty in the availability of raw materials. We need to work on these fronts. I believe we need to apply more automation in the plant as post Covid-19 we might face problems in getting skilled labour,” she concluded. 

The QA session was held at the end of the Webinar inviting questions from the attendees. To one of the queries on how Covid-19 will affect Chinese imports, Ms. Sonal replied, “We should look forward to partner with other countries.  We need to have manufacturing units and not just depend on the present assembling plants. We need to be the creators now.”

Prof. Kamal Chopra thanked the participants for their inputs and encouraged more women entrepreneurs to enter into the printing industry. He also asked the industry people to stay positive and face post Covid-19 challenges as a team. 

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