The survey was conducted by SDRC International, along with seven state-based ground survey agencies, from among a verified MSME database of the India SME Forum and its members.

For purposes of the study, 1,28,744 MSMEs which were formed and registered on or before April 1, 2015, and with 100% Indian promoter shareholders, partners and proprietors were shortlisted as well as verified as “running enterprises”.

Contacts of entrepreneurs or owners were verified by an outbound team from April 2018 to September 2018. In order to collect data, a questionnaire was proposed, studied and discussed to arrive at a final format which enabled collation of primary and objective data, besides qualitative as well as quantitative analysis.

The survey took place in two phases. The first phase consisted of emailing the survey mailer, followed by outbound follow up telephone calls to induce responses. The second phase was sample verification of MSMEs as well as independent confirmations.

The survey initially received a total of 11,390 responses without reminders and finally a total of 98,857 responses from all mailers sent and reminder follow up calls. After checking the data responses, 37,920 responses were found to be fully complete in all respects while 60,937 responses were incomplete, and as such discarded.

In the second phase, verification of the 37,920 MSMEs and the data received was shared with ground agencies which verified the enterprises and units surveyed on the ground. Random units having rated extreme scores or responses from among this list, were selected by analysts for independent physical verification and 2250 units were identified to be verified.

In the verification phase that ensued, 52 enterprises were found to be running multiple firms or companies from the same shop floor or premises while eight of them were found to be non-existent on the ground, with no place of operation of their own, leading to disqualification of their inputs. What analysts were left with were 37,860 MSMEs whose data was complete in all respects.

Typically, MSMEs seem wary of sharing their figures for the purposes of any survey due to fear that these figures might be accessed by any government official who could potentially harass them. This fear has led to a situation where transparency and reporting of accurate figures or data has become difficult in public surveys. During the course of this survey too, a underlying reluctance to share data, was noticed inspite of the fact that the questionnaire was framed in a way, that it would take a respondent barely three minutes to answer all questions. It is also difficult to dismiss apathy and cynicism about any kind of survey in general going by the lack of seriousness observed during the survey.

Incidentally, the least number of responses were received from Goa (1.48), Assam (1.76), Bihar (9%), Telangana (19.02%) and J&K (11.74%). The largest number of responses came from Jharkhand (40.74%), Gujarat (38.02%), Delhi (35.88%), Madhya Pradesh (33.43%), Rajasthan (33.15%) and Haryana (30.97%). Surprisingly, there was poor response to the survey from a progressive state like Telangana, which probably reflects the mood of the entrepreneurs of that state. On the other hand, there was a good response rate of 40.74% from a state like Jharkhand, which has very few MSMEs.