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Last updated: 12 Apr, 2017  

bhairav-kothari-supercfoTHMB.jpg SMEs face both internal and external challenges: Bhairav Kothari

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Saurabh Gupta | 04 Apr, 2017
The challenges faced by the most Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in India can be split into two: external and internal, said Bhairav Kothari, Founder and Managing Director, SuperCFO.

In an interview to SME Times, he said, "'External Challenges' are like access to credit, poor infrastructure, hassles with regulatory compliances, etc. And 'Internal Challenges' are like creating second level of leadership, driving the business with strong financial reports, planning & strategy to take the company to the next level, etc."

He added that his group - SuperCFO plays an important role in coping with 'Internal Challenges', , just like a chief financial officer does for large organizations. SuperCFO focuses on Start-ups and SMEs who are increasingly recognizing the need to access professional CFO services.

Excerpts from the interview...

Please tell something about your group - SuperCFO Services Pvt. Ltd.
Bhairav Kothari: As a group, we are headquartered in Mumbai, and have presence in Delhi, Bangalore and Singapore. We operate with a core team of 25, comprising of CFO’s, Controllers, finance managers and analysts. Further, we have a large pool of talent, that we tap into and are available to work at short notice, which allows us to scale up at short notice, depending on client requirements.

Please tell us about your products and services.
Bhairav Kothari: We provide a range of CFO Services, some of which are summarized herein below:

a. Virtual / Part-Time CFO Services: Retainer based solution wherein a CFO helps a company on an ongoing basis. Engagements could be as low as half a day a week, and could go upto 4 days a week.

b. Interim CFO Services: Assisting companies on an interim basis, to fill in the void created by sudden exit of a CFO; as well as to help CFO’s in addressing surge in their workload and installing a temporary team to get the work done, in a time bound manner.

c. Special Projects: Be it building detailed budgets, or a five year forecast plan, or undertaking CFO Health-Check, or assistance with ERP Migration; we do it all, from a practical hands-on CFO’s perspective.

d. Full Time CFO Services: Executive search services, with domain expertise for hiring the right senior finance resources.

What made you start such a venture?
Bhairav Kothari: I wanted to do something that was niche. Stay with the execution side of the finance/accounting world, but work with multiple companies and not just one. That’s when the idea of SuperCFO came up. This was a brand new concept in India, so it was fun creating a category.

The great majority of MSMEs are unorganized and are a subset of the larger informal sector. Do you focus on the small and medium enterprise (SME) too?
Bhairav Kothari: Most of our clients fall in the SME space. Being an SME, it is not always easy to hire the best senior talent (since you are not a very large company) and you are not so small to work with junior resources. This is where we are best suited, since we provide a flexible approach wherein they can start with smaller / one-time solutions, and as they build their business, we increase our engagement levels.

Please share your views on the SME sector and the major challenges it is facing in India.
Bhairav Kothari: Indian SMEs are known to flourish amidst challenging environments. We feel that the SME sector has been neglected for years by the government despite it accounting for about 38% of India's GDP and being called as the backbone of the economy. The challenges faced by most SME entrepreneurs can be split into two: external and internal, as follows:

a. External Challenges: like access to credit, poor infrastructure, hassles with regulatory compliances, etc.
b. Internal Challenges: This includes creating second level of leadership, driving the business with strong financial reports, planning & strategy to take the company to the next level, etc.

As regards external challenges, the current development focused government has announced few reforms in the recent past and entrepreneurs are keeping their fingers crossed for tangible & noticeable benefits.

As for internal challenges, SuperCFO plays an important role in helping entrepreneurs on several finance, processes, policy & strategy related matters.

Any comment on the impact of demonetisation.
Bhairav Kothari: Demonetisation was a good move on the macro front. For business owners, it did pose some hurdles for a brief time; but business seems to be getting back to normal now.

What are your future plans. Please share.
Bhairav Kothari: I have 2 goals for future:

1. Build a world class brand – such that it should be aspirational for everyone to work with us. Our brand should be regarded as an industry benchmark with respect to quality CFO services. In fact, a Company should command a premium in their valuation, if they are working with us.

2. Go Global - We have already setup an office in Singapore, as part of our first step towards going global. I envisage having offices in key cities, across the global.
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