Small Business Saturday isn’t a novelty anymore – independent retailers depend on it

Here are the expectations for Small Business Saturday

Here are the expectations for Small Business Saturday   8:32 AM ET Fri, 23 Nov 2018 | 02:10

For Mackenzi Farquer, Small Business Saturday is a big deal.

The owner of Queens, New York-based Lockwood gift shop, which sells kitchenware, clothing and paper goods, says there’s often barely room to stand in her locations on the retail holiday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

“It’s our busiest day of the year,” Farquer says. “I think people in this neighborhood especially are trained to know that this the day to come out and shop at small businesses. They are not only coming for holiday shopping, they also want to be here to support us.”

And those shoppers show their support in a big way — that day alone accounts for some 8 percent of Lockwood’s overall holiday sales. “It’s at a fever pitch and growing every year,” she says.

Small Business Saturday, now in its ninth year, is sponsored by American Express and encourages consumers to get out and shop “small” supporting local retailers and restaurants in person and online. Last year, nearly $13 billion was spent on that day alone, a slight dip from 2016.

This year, data from Amex and the National Federation of Independent Business finds some 83 percent of consumers say they plan to do at least some of their holiday shopping at a small independently owned retailer or restaurant either in person, or online. Nearly 6 in 10 consumers nationwide say they are aware of the shopping holiday, and among them, 80 percent plan to shop at independent retailers that day.

Small business owners working in bakery together

John Lund/Marc Romanelli | Blend Images | Getty Images

Meanwhile, data from CNBC and SurveyMonkey’s Small Business Saturday poll finds some 44 percent of consumers say they will patronize a small business on the day this year, up slightly from 2017, and 58 percent say they will shop in person. Overall this season, 28 percent said they will spend less while 14 percent said they will spend more.

This year, American Express has also expanded the holiday to Puerto Rico for the first time and is sponsoring events including popup shops with Etsy, campaigns to support female-owned businesses and more.

“Small Business Saturday is a great chance to drive awareness and keep small businesses top of mind,” said Raina Moskowitz, Etsy’s SVP of people, strategy and services. “Mass retailers play a great role in convenience and price, but when you shop from a small business, there is a story behind what you are buying. so it’s more personal and thoughtful, especially for the holiday season.”

Small business owners like Mackenzie Farquer are gearing up for Small Business Saturday, when shoppers are encouraged to patronize small, local retailers.

Kate Rogers | CNBC
Small business owners like Mackenzie Farquer are gearing up for Small Business Saturday, when shoppers are encouraged to patronize small, local retailers.

Heather Parker sells dog bow ties, leashes and other gifts online and at her shop Crew LaLa in Charleston, South Carolina. It’s her fifth year participating in Small Business Saturday, and each year sales have doubled, Parker said. Last year, the day accounted for 12 percent of the company’s overall holiday season sales, and even brought in new, repeat customers.

“Last year 40 percent of our customers from Small Business Saturday were first-time customers,” Parker said. “Of that 40 percent, 65 percent actually turned into returning customers.”

The store even has to bring in extra employees for the weekend and the rest of the holiday season.

“We have to beef up for it because we get such a response from Small Business Saturday,” Parker said. “Having a day that really shows support … is really inspiring. It helps us and kind of fuels us for the rest of the year.”

Here are the expectations for Small Business Saturday

Here are the expectations for Small Business Saturday   8:32 AM ET Fri, 23 Nov 2018 | 02:10

For Mackenzi Farquer, Small Business Saturday is a big deal.

The owner of Queens, New York-based Lockwood gift shop, which sells kitchenware, clothing and paper goods, says there’s often barely room to stand in her locations on the retail holiday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

“It’s our busiest day of the year,” Farquer says. “I think people in this neighborhood especially are trained to know that this the day to come out and shop at small businesses. They are not only coming for holiday shopping, they also want to be here to support us.”

And those shoppers show their support in a big way — that day alone accounts for some 8 percent of Lockwood’s overall holiday sales. “It’s at a fever pitch and growing every year,” she says.

Small Business Saturday, now in its ninth year, is sponsored by American Express and encourages consumers to get out and shop “small” supporting local retailers and restaurants in person and online. Last year, nearly $13 billion was spent on that day alone, a slight dip from 2016.

This year, data from Amex and the National Federation of Independent Business finds some 83 percent of consumers say they plan to do at least some of their holiday shopping at a small independently owned retailer or restaurant either in person, or online. Nearly 6 in 10 consumers nationwide say they are aware of the shopping holiday, and among them, 80 percent plan to shop at independent retailers that day.

Small business owners working in bakery together

John Lund/Marc Romanelli | Blend Images | Getty Images

Meanwhile, data from CNBC and SurveyMonkey’s Small Business Saturday poll finds some 44 percent of consumers say they will patronize a small business on the day this year, up slightly from 2017, and 58 percent say they will shop in person. Overall this season, 28 percent said they will spend less while 14 percent said they will spend more.

This year, American Express has also expanded the holiday to Puerto Rico for the first time and is sponsoring events including popup shops with Etsy, campaigns to support female-owned businesses and more.

“Small Business Saturday is a great chance to drive awareness and keep small businesses top of mind,” said Raina Moskowitz, Etsy’s SVP of people, strategy and services. “Mass retailers play a great role in convenience and price, but when you shop from a small business, there is a story behind what you are buying. so it’s more personal and thoughtful, especially for the holiday season.”

Small business owners like Mackenzie Farquer are gearing up for Small Business Saturday, when shoppers are encouraged to patronize small, local retailers.

Kate Rogers | CNBC
Small business owners like Mackenzie Farquer are gearing up for Small Business Saturday, when shoppers are encouraged to patronize small, local retailers.

Heather Parker sells dog bow ties, leashes and other gifts online and at her shop Crew LaLa in Charleston, South Carolina. It’s her fifth year participating in Small Business Saturday, and each year sales have doubled, Parker said. Last year, the day accounted for 12 percent of the company’s overall holiday season sales, and even brought in new, repeat customers.

“Last year 40 percent of our customers from Small Business Saturday were first-time customers,” Parker said. “Of that 40 percent, 65 percent actually turned into returning customers.”

The store even has to bring in extra employees for the weekend and the rest of the holiday season.

“We have to beef up for it because we get such a response from Small Business Saturday,” Parker said. “Having a day that really shows support … is really inspiring. It helps us and kind of fuels us for the rest of the year.”

[“source=gsmarena”]

Five Ways To Prepare Your Business For Small Business Saturday

young smiling customer looking excited and carrying many paper bags in clothes shopGetty

American Express’ Small Business Saturday has fast become an American tradition for the Saturday following Black Friday. Small businesses across the country will be celebrating the ninth year of this annual shopping event on Saturday, November 24. It can mean a big day of sales; in 2017 alone, consumers spent almost $13 million. Gear up your small businaess to make the most of profits this Small Business Saturday with these five tips.

1. Promote your participation as soon as possible.

American Express offers materials and resources you can use to promote your business and sales. You can create customizable online, in-store and social media marketing materials. This is a cost-effective way to promote your participation. Print signs and banners at a local printer to support another neighborhood business and get your materials sooner. 

2. Prepare digitally.

Online shopping is increasing every year. Make sure your website is up to date with available inventory, all promotional offers and holiday hours. In 2017, almost half of all online retail traffic during the holiday shopping season came from a smartphone, according to data from Adobe. You don’t want to miss out on that traffic, so be sure to check that your website is mobile-friendly for customers shopping on the go.

Schedule social media posts announcing your participation in Small Business Saturday and any sales in advance by spending an afternoon planning out your posts. Reach new customers by advertising with Google Adwords, Twitter and Facebook. You can provide consumers with a customized experience by launching geo-targeted ads to your desired audience.

3. Prepare your team.

The holiday season often requires more employees, but hiring seasonal help can be a challenging process. Get a head start by accepting applications in early November, and in order to get the best help, accept applications in person and online.

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Once your team is in place, training is imperative. Customer service should be your No. 1 priority on Small Business Saturday, and your employees need the necessary skills to help make that priority happen. Teach all your employees to help customers find the proper products, and explain which additional products would complement the rest of their order. Remember, this is the perfect opportunity to turn first-time visitors into life-long customers.

4. Prepare your inventory.

Your distributors may be flooded with other client orders before Small Business Saturday and the rest of the holiday season, so place your orders well in advance. It is essential to have enough inventory to last the weekend, but you should also be judicious in how much you order. You don’t want to run the risk of overstocking. Review your previous year’s performance to get an idea of how much you need to order. Even if you did not actively participate in Small Business Saturday last year, many consumers knowingly shopped at small businesses that weekend. That means previous years’ sales can provide you with a good starting point.

5. Prepare your financing.

Additional employees, marketing materials and inventory will require additional working capital. Finance your Small Business Saturday campaigns by finding the right financing fit to help. You can calculate how much you’ll need to finance your campaigns or secure more inventory by reviewing your previous budget and sales from the prior years.

Some business funding options include SBA loans, merchant cash advances, lines of credit, term loans and invoice factoring. Your financing needs and your business’s credit score will help determine which type of financing option is best. The length of time you can repay the amount you’re looking to borrow is also an important factor in your decision, and the age of your business can affect which products are available to you.

Preparation is key to a successful Small Business Saturday. Consumers will be inundated with messages about Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But with some careful planning, you can stand out from your competition, both big and small.

[“source=forbes]

Government looks to super funds to back $2 billion small business plan

Superannuation funds will be courted to participate in the federal government’s $2 billion push to increase funding for small business.

The government’s two part policy announced on Wednesday features a potential $2 billion investment in a  securitisation fund to help small businesses access debt finance outside the big banks and the “encouragement” of the establishment of a growth fund to provide longer term equity funding.

Mr Frydenberg told Fairfax Media on Friday there was a clear need for the funds “with the big banks responsible for more than 80 per cent of small business loans that are less than $2 million, there are few alternative funding routes.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the two funds on Wednesday.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the two funds on Wednesday. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Securitisation fund

The securitisation fund will operate through the government buying bonds that are drawn from a pool of small business loans and providing cheaper funding to smaller banks and non-bank lenders through new or existing warehouse facilities.

The government will receive interest from these loans on a monthly basis which is where it will make its money and a well placed source said the government hopes superannuation funds will also participate in a similar way.

Ultimately the source said the government envisages it will not have to keep investing as the market matures which could take around three to five years.

Looking to superannuation funds

Joseph Healy, is the co-founder of SME lender Judo Capital, which is likely to benefit from the fund and said if the government is willing to invest money through the fund, superannuation funds may be willing to invest as well.

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“Being able to invest into the securitisation fund and access a pools of funds rather than individual funds is a much better way for SMEs to access the superannuation market,” he said.

Eva Scheerlinck, chief executive of the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees, said new investment opportunities are always welcome but it’s too early to say what the response will be from super funds.

“Super funds have a fiduciary duty to their members to ensure that every investment made is the right one for their portfolio and the investment outlook,” she said.

“At the end of the day, the assets that trustees invest in still have to be of investment grade and assessed against a rigorous criteria to ensure members get the best outcomes.”

Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees chief executive Eva Scheerlinck.
Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees chief executive Eva Scheerlinck.Credit:Steven Pam

Small business ombudsman Kate Carnell helped develop the policy and said the securitisation fund would encourage smaller banks and non bank lenders to lend to small businesses.

“For second tier banks the cost of lending is a mix of risk and cost of capital,” she said. “Why don’t they lend now?  The cost of capital is high and the dilemma of lending to small business or SMEs is that the risk is higher. By bringing down the cost of capital you can make the business case for some of these lenders to focus on small business.”

Small businesses having trouble securing finance

01:16

Small businesses having trouble securing finance

Small businesses are being promised easier access to finance through a new $2 billion fund to be unveiled by the Morrison Government.

Growth fund

The second part of the government’s policy is to promote the establishment of a growth fund.

The government is consulting with the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority and the banks over how the fund would work.

The fund would provide passive equity investment to small businesses to enable them to grow without taking on additional debt or giving up control of their business and is likely to be modelled on similar funds in the United Kingdom and Canada.

Since its establishment in 2011, the United Kingdom’s business growth fund has invested some $2.7 billion in a range of sectors across the economy.

Unlike a traditional private equity investment or a ‘Shark Tank’ style investment, businesses would not have to give up control or offer a board seat.

A similar fund doesn’t exist in Australia in part because the amount of capital APRA requires banks to hold for these investments makes it unprofitable for the banks however this treatment is under review.

The government’s role will be limited to setting up the rules around the funds operation and ensuring reporting and auditing.

[“source=ndtv”]

Square adds to its small-business ecosystem with benefits like health insurance

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey addresses students during a town hall at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in New Delhi, India, November 12, 2018.

Anushree Fadnavis | Reuters
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey addresses students during a town hall at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in New Delhi, India, November 12, 2018.

Square is ramping up its bet on small businesses by offering big company benefits.

The fintech firm, run by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, announced on Wednesday it would give small businesses using its payroll platform the option to offer perks like health insurance and retirement savings to employees.

“It’s a new enhancement to the Square platform and a powerful solution that has historically been cost-prohibitive to small businesses,” Alyssa Henry, head of Square seller and developer business units, said on a call with reporters.

The San Francisco-based company partnered with only “technology-focused” firms — SimplyInsured, Guideline 401(k), Alice, and AP Intego. The available benefits range from health insurance, retirement savings, pre-tax spending, and workers’ compensation.

Businesses that use Square Payroll, a product that became available nationwide last month, can pick one or all of the benefit options for their employees. Those benefits will sync with Square Payroll and automate deductions and business contributions, which also helps with tax compliance, the company said.

The move came after a recent company survey showed that 42 percent of Square users listed “benefits” as the top new product request.

“That confirmed what we’ve been hearing anecdotally,” said Caroline Hollis, head of Square Payroll. “Offering access to benefits was the most difficult thing we hadn’t solved for in the space.”

Square has significantly expanded its small-business product suite since the company launched in 2009. It started with credit card processing and payment hardware but now includes payroll services, and loans through Square Capital. It also launched a payment installment option in October.

The company reported earnings last week that beat Wall Street’s expectations for the top and bottom line, but came up slightly short on fourth-quarter guidance. The stock has been on a tear this year, up more than 110 percent since January.

Square is also well-known in the payments sector for its popular Cash app, which CEO Jack Dorsey said customers are now using as a traditional bank in many cases.

“We do see people use the Cash App fundamentally as you would expect them to use a bank account,” Dorsey said on a the earnings call last week. “They store money with us, it’s accepted anywhere Visa is accepted. They can send and receive money from friends and family.

[“source=ndtv”]

Government called upon to reform tax system to aid small businesses

Sue O’Neill was speaking at the SFA’s annual lunch in Dublin, which was attended by about 400 members

Sue O’Neill was speaking at the SFA’s annual lunch in Dublin, which was attended by about 400 members

The Government needs to urgently implement “real reform” within the tax system to ensure competitiveness and end discrimination against the self-employed and entrepreneurs, the head of the Small Firms Association has said.

Sue O’Neill, chairwoman of the SFA, said taxation remains one of the most powerful tools available to the State as it urged the Government to do more to support small business.

“The opportunity to address areas of our tax policy that hinder our ability to compete with our nearest neighbours in particular, were missed in Budget 2019 and instead of ensuring that no additional costs were imposed on small business, we see the reinstatement of the 13 per cent vat in sectors that reinvented themselves and significantly contributed to our recovering economy,” she said.

‘Important pillars’

“One of the most important pillars of a national small business strategy is a comprehensive tax policy. As a country we need to urgently implement real reform within our tax system to ensure sustainable competitiveness for small business and finally end tax discrimination against the self-employed and entrepreneurs,” Ms O’Neill added.

Ms O’Neill was speaking at the SFA’s annual lunch in Dublin, which was attended by about 400 members.

Warning about the dangers Brexit poses for small firms, Ms O’Neill also spoke of a softening of confidence among members with a recent study showing that the number of companies who feel the business environment is improving has declined.

[“source=ndtv”]

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says the economy’s success depends on infrastructure

Wilbur Ross, U.S. commerce secretary

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Wilbur Ross, U.S. commerce secretary

The strong U.S. economy’s continued success depends largely on infrastructure, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Tuesday.

“Corporate earnings certainly have been very, very strong. there’s no question about that. And it’s also no question that market’s job is to look ahead,” Ross said. “I think a lot will have to do with whether infrastructure gets the kind of treatment that it really deserves.”

Ross, speaking at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit in Washington, was asked whether the prospect of diminished corporate earnings in the near future will be a drag on the economy. He added that the only real obstacle to passing an infrastructure bill is its funding.

“As you know, [the] president is very keen to have an infrastructure program, and the only real issue is how do you pay for it. How much does the federal government do, how much is done by [the] private sector,” Ross said.

The concept of an executive-level infrastructure push has itself become a bit of a laughing matter to critics. In February, President Donald Trump proposed spending $200 billion in a bid to coax $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investing mainly from state and local governments, as well as private entities, but the plan went nowhere.

The administration’s “Infrastructure Week” theme also became the butt of jokes.

[“source=forbes]

Q2 earnings: Titan’s consolidated profit up 8.34% at ₹301.11 crore

Revenue and profit growth were led by Titan’s largest segment, jewellery, sold mainly under the Tanishq brand.

Watches and accessories company Titan Co Ltd reported an 8.34% growth in consolidated profit while total revenue jumped significantly during the July-September quarter, led by sales growth in all key product segments.

But the Tata group company’s standalone net profit growth rate for the quarter was a muted 5% on a year-ago basis. Titan listed two reasons for that subdued growth rate – an ₹29 crore provision for investments it made as part of Treasury operations in inter-corporate deposits in the IL&FS group, and certain one-time franchisee compensations due to store takeovers in the jewellery segment.

In June, Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS) group’s transport arm, IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd (ITNL), delayed repayment of ₹450 crore of inter-corporate deposits from the Small Industries Development Bank of India (Sidbi), triggering a ratings downgrade from Icra and CARE on ITNL’s debt papers. IL&FS group and units subsequently defaulted on several other payment obligations.

Consolidated net profit at Titan was ₹301.11 crore in the second quarter, compared with ₹277.93 crore last year. Total income stood at ₹4,595.13 crore during the quarter, up from ₹3,603.01 crore in the same quarter a year ago.

Revenue and profit growth were led by Titan’s largest segment, jewellery, sold mainly under the Tanishq brand. Income from the jewellery segment grew 29.02% to ₹3,645.07 crore on an annual basis.

“The company has done well across all its businesses in the second quarter, delivering 26% growth over last year. The jewellery business picked up this quarter after a soft first quarter and the watches business had one of its best quarters with an extremely healthy growth in bottom line for the first half. The eyewear business has picked up too with our investments in brand building showing results now,” Titan’s managing director Bhaskar Bhat said in a statement filed with the BSE on Friday.

[“source=forbes]

Aavishkaar plans to raise $300 million for South Asia fund

Vineet Rai, chief executive of Aavishkaar Venture Management Services, sees Indonesia as the next hub of impact investing.

India’s biggest homegrown impact investor by size of investments, Aavishkaar Group, plans to raise $300 million for its South Asia-focused fund early next year to invest across financial services, agriculture, energy and health, said a senior executive.

The fund will be used for investments in Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar and Laos among others. “We are avoiding India and China, and looking more at smaller markets which have unutilized potential,” said Vineet Rai, managing partner and chief executive of Aavishkaar Venture Management Services. Aavishkaar is part of the Aavishkaar-Intellecap conglomerate, which also owns companies such as IntelleGrow, a non-banking financial company (NBFC) which lends to small and medium enterprises; Tribe, a fintech platform connecting lenders to small entrepreneurs; and Arohan, an east-India focused microfinance lender.

“I see Indonesia as the next hub of impact investing. Like India, it has a high density of population and business models are very scalable. It also has a cultural connect and similarities with an evolving private equity/venture capital system,” he added.

Rai plans to raise the funds from sovereign investors in Singapore, Japan, Australia and the UK, in addition to Asian development finance institutions. The fund is a follow up to its $75 million Frontier Fund focused on South and South-East Asia. It will be Aavishkaar’s eighth fund, which it is aiming for a first close by end 2019.

Aavishkaar is currently raising capital for two of its funds- the $200 million Aavishkaar Bharat fund, an India-specific fund, and a $150 million Africa fund, its first foray into the African market.

The Aavishkaar Bharat Fund is the largest India-focused impact fund being raised by a domestic fund manager. Rai expects the Africa fund to hit a first close of $60-80 million by April next year. He expects the Bharat fund to hit its final close around the same time. It achieved a first close of $95 million in November last year.

The Bharat Fund is backed by institutional investors such as the UK’s development finance institution CDC, Small Industries Development Bank of India (Sidbi), National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) and family offices such as Sunil Munjal of Hero Enterprise, said Rai.

Mint reported in January 2017 that the Africa fund will focus on east and west Africa with specific focus on Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Ghana. “Our core strategy is to go deeper in the companies we invest in. We do seed stage rounds and then follow it up with further investments. Our investing philosophy also goes far beyond funding, because we incubate, provide guidance to entrepreneurs and look to scale the business,” said Rai.

Aavishkaar follows a consistent investment strategy in all the markets it invests in, where about 35% of the fund will be invested in financial services, 30% in agriculture and 30% in energy and health.

[“source=forbes]

MSMEs: Loan losses high in sector, but banks continue to lend

MSMEs: Loan losses high in sector, but banks continue to lend

By: Shritama Bose | Published: November 6, 2018 3:48 AM

RBI data show defaults by MSMEs rose to 13.08% for PSBs at March-end this year against 12.56% last year.

On its part, the RBI had earlier this year eased norms for recognition of non-performing assets (NPAs) in the MSME segment.

Lending to smaller businesses is as fraught with risks as is lending to large companies, going by the level of non-performing assets (NPAs). However, despite this banks have not pulled back on credit to mid-sized and smaller companies. Delinquencies on account of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) rose to a high 13.08% for public sector banks (PSBs) at the end of March 2018, compared with 12.56% in March 2017, according to data sourced from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

However, outstanding loans to medium industries rose 3.3% year-on-year to Rs 1.05 lakh crore, data released by the RBI on October 31 reveals.

Again, credit to the micro and small industries, at Rs 3.64 lakh crore as on September 28, 2018, was more or less at same levels in the previous year.

The worsening in the quality of MSME credit was even more severe at banks under the prompt corrective action (PCA) framework. For these lenders, NPAs arising from the MSME portfolio stood at 15.74% at the end of March 2018, about a150 basis points higher than the level a year before that, documents reviewed by FE showed.

The government has been concerned that the flow of credit to the MSME sector is being restricted because 11 state-owned lenders are operating under the PCA (prompt corrective action) framework. This has become a contentious issue between the Centre and the RBI and is expected to be discussed at the next RBI board meeting on November 19.

On its part, the RBI had earlier this year eased norms for recognition of non-performing assets (NPAs) in the MSME segment.

On June 6, the central bank had extended the benefit of 180-days past due (dpd)-based classification of NPAs to all MSMEs. Earlier, banks and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) were allowed to classify MSME exposures as NPA 180 days after the due date only if the firms were GST-compliant. This benefit for non-GST-compliant enterprises will be available only up to December 31, 2018.

In recent quarters, some banks have admitted that they are facing stress in their SME portfolio. In the June quarter of FY19, Kotak Mahindra Bank saw an increase in provisions against its portfolio of loans to small enterprises.

Manish Kothari, business head – corporate banking and SME – at the bank, had told FE, “We saw an impact for us in the trader segment and also in the valuation of collaterals becoming an issue at the time of liquidation. Traders who were dealing in products that were a little volatile, for example, commodities, have contributed to some stress. Similarly, businesses that dealt with customers who were subsequently selling ahead in cash were impacted by demonetisation.”

Last Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a package for MSMEs. These include an online loan portal where loans up to `1 crore are to be granted in less than an hour, an extra 2% interest subvention for goods and services tax (GST)-registered MSMEs and more trade receivables on an e-discounting platform so as to ensure greater credit availability.

The share of delinquencies in private banks’ MSME portfolios rose to 2.61% at the end of March 2018 from 2.38% a year ago. For foreign banks, the share of delinquent MSME accounts actually fell to 2.5% at the end of FY18 from 3.32% at the end of FY17.

[“source=forbes]

California’s new ban on small cages for chickens, pigs, and calves could force the entire egg industry to go cage-free

California chickens will soon all be getting more space. One square foot of it, to be exact.

On Tuesday, voters in California overwhelmingly approved Proposition 12, which will enact stricter rules on how much space farmers must give to egg-laying hens, veal calves, and breeding pigs. The idea is that all of those animals should have enough room to stretch out their wings, claws, and paws.

The measure has major ramifications for the rest of the country, because it also means that grocers in California won’t be able to sell any meat or eggs that come from out of state and don’t adhere to the new regulations. That means farms across the US that want to sell their wares in the nation’s most populous state will be forced to comply with California’s new rule.

chicken

California already had a law on the books about cruelty-free eggs: it says egg-laying hens, breeding pigs, and calves raised for veal must be given enough space “to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs.” But that still allowed for some variations based on interpretation.

Now, under the new regulation, farmers have until the start of 2020 to provide each egg-laying hen at least one square foot of floor space. By 2022, all the state’s hens need to have completely cage-free housing.

Animal rights activists like the Humane Society of the US, which sponsored Proposition 12, cheered the change.

“California voters have sent a loud and clear message that they reject cruel cage confinement in the meat and egg industries,” Kitty Block, acting president and CEO of the Humane Society said in a statement. “Millions of veal calves, mother pigs and egg-laying hens will never know the misery of being locked in a tiny cage for the duration of their lives.”

Egg producers around the country had already rallied in opposition to California’s current hen-housing requirements. In April, 13 states took the battle to the Supreme Court. Iowa, the country’s largest egg producer, even enacted a new law to protect farmers there who keep hens caged.

But big egg retailers like McDonalds, Costco, and Burger King had already started to respond to consumers’ cage-free demands – McDonald’s and Burger King have both pledged to source only cage-free eggs by 2025.

The battle over how we house farm animals comes as the US’ egg appetite soars – American egg production rose 3% in 2017, with a total of 106 billion eggs produced last year. (The vitamin-rich yolks are no longer thought to raise cholesterol levels the way many people previously thought.)

Read More: ‘Cage-free’ and ‘free range’ eggs aren’t necessarily cruelty-free

Converting to cage-free doesn’t come free, though: it costs farmers about $40 per bird, according to Pew Stateline. Farmers say raising cage-free chickens can also be messier and require more work.

Cage-free eggs also cost more in stores. A study published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics in 2017 estimated that California’s current law cut egg production in that state by more than a third. For consumers, egg prices were found to be between 9% and 33% more expensive than they would have been without the rule.

“I think it should be an issue of the person votes when they buy the eggs,” Dennis Bowden, who converted his own chicken farm in Maine to a cage-free facility, told Pew Stateline. “Poor people can’t afford to buy eggs if they’re all cage-free.”

Plus, cage-free doesn’t always mean that the birds get to roam freely; some cage-free egg-layers still don’t spend a single moment of their lives outside.

In addition to passing Proposition 12, Californians also voted in favor of nixing Daylight Saving Time and decided that the state should be able to spend mental-health funding to house homeless people with mental illnesses.

[“source=forbes]