Notwithstanding online sales and the LBT challenge, Kohlapur IT partners are optimistic about their future growth
Situated in the holy Panchganga river basin in southwest Maharashtra state, Kolhapur is best known for its spicy non vegetarian food and leather footwear. Also known as 'Dakshin Kashi', Kolhapur, blessed by Goddess Mahalaxmi/Ambabai (the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity) is one of the most joyful cities in Western Ghats. Founded by Chhatrapati Tarabai, the princely state prospered under the reign of the legendry Rajarshi Shahu Chhatrapati Maharaj and Rajaram Chhatrapati Maharaj laid the foundation of modern Kolhapur.
Kolhapur is an inland city located in south-west Maharashtra state, 228 km south of Pune, 615 km north-west of Bangalore and 530 km west of Hyderabad. Within Maharashtra, Kolhapur's nearest cities and towns are Ichalkaranji, Kagal, Sangli, Satara, and Miraj. Kolhapur is located on National Highway 4 and National Highway 204. The Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Terminus links Kolhapur via rail to India's major cities with express services to Pune, Mumbai, Bangloare and New Delhi. Kolhapur's domestic airport is located 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) south east of the city at Ujalaiwadi. The city is governed by the Kolhapur Municipal Corporation (KMC).
Kolhapur is rapidly developing in terms of infrastructure and industries. The city is majorly dominated by Co-Operative sector. Co-operative movement has made revolutionary developments in various fields in the Kolhapur district. According to official data, there are about 9624 Co-operative societies in the district. Among various Co-operative societies the Co-operative sugar factories, Co-operative milk societies, Co-operative Banks, Co-operative Marketing Societies, Co-op. Spinning Mills play major role in prosperity the Kolhapur district.
From the perspective of IT, Many big vendors are willing to set up their offices in the city. There are some brands which enjoy monopoly in the market. In Desktops Dell is at fore front whereas in commercial sector HP and Lenovo are the first choice of buyers. In networking D Link is the sole brand. In printers and scanners, Canon has captured the market space. In anti-virus, there is stiff competition between Quick heal and Net protector and in UTMs and firewall Cyberroam is a preferred brand of IT partners.
With the rapid industrialization and infrastructural development, Kolhapur has emerged as a growing market place for IT industry. The city has seen steady growth in the sector compare to last two years. However, like other emerging markets, E Commerce has also affected small retailers in the city. Along with OLS, LBT, VAT and warranty issues with vendors are the prominent challenges faced by the partners.
Rahul Patil, owner of Atharva Technologies said that E Commerce has impacted profit margins of IT dealers. He said LBT was the major concern of retailers and the state government should address the issue immediately.
Mr. Patil also said that IT partners are gradually coming out of the setback they got 2 years before due to online boom. He said many customers have come back to their dealers after experiencing lack of service assistance and frauds by online companies.
“Around 50 per cent online trade is down this year. Customers want effective service and OLS portals fail to provide proper assistance. Therefore, many customers are now started approaching to their dealers. This is a good sign for us”
Kolhapur IT partners formed an association to address these challenges and work towards betterment of IT community. Computer Association of Kolhapur (CAK) is the prominent IT association in the city having strength of around 200 members. The association is always at the fore front to fight for betterment of IT community. CAK is also a member association of FITAM.
The association has demanded separate focus on computer hardware in Maharashtra State’s IT policy. Shrenik Bingarde, president of CAK said, “We are always committed for betterment of our members. CAK has aggressively put members’ plight in front of the authorities. We are always there to support our members.”
Despite of OLS factor and LFRs, Kolhapur IT partners are optimistic about future growth in the industry. The infrastructure development and government projects will further lead to prosperity of IT entrepreneurs making the holy city as a IT hub in the Western Ghats.
Shrenik Bindage, president of Computer Association of Kolhapur
What are your demands regarding IT Hardware Policy?
The Maharashtra government in its IT policy has given more emphasis on Software part. However, hardware is also equally important for the development of the industry. It would not be wrong to say that the government earns more revenue from computer hardware than software. Therefore, we demand appropriate steps to promote computer hardware industry.
What are the challenges faced by computer hardware industry?
Finance is the major issue the industry face today. Apart from finance there are lots of complexities in procedures.
What are your demands from the State government?
We demand that computer hardware business should be registered under small and medium industries. The hardware dealers should get loans at reasonable interest rates. Government should impose minimum taxes on hardware components. There should be single window scheme for clearance. Computer products and peripherals should be made available at cheap rates to SOHO and students. The prices of computer devices, profit margins and service charges should be unified at state and national level.
Rahul Patil, owner of Atharva Technologies
How do you analyze the current IT scenario in Kolhapur?
Kolhapur is the emerging market for IT sector. We have seen very organic growth in the year 2014. The online factor is drastically becoming fragile. OLS is going down and customers have started coming to shops for better services.
What are the prominent brands in the city?
Since, Kolhapur is an industrial hub, the demand for desktops and networking products is huge. In commercial desktops HP and Lenovo are most preferred brands. In printers and scanners Canon is a major brand, however, Epson has also some presence. In networking TP link, in antivirus Quick heal and Netprotect and in UTMs and firewall Cyberroam is in demand.