GeM: The Treasure Trove for SMEs in Procurement Town
In recent years, the Indian government has taken strides toward digitization and automation in various sectors, including procurement. One such initiative is the Government e-Marketplace portal (GeM), a one-stop shop for all government procurement needs.
The Government e Marketplace (GeM) has emerged as a game-changer in public procurement in India. However, what makes GeM truly remarkable is the impact it has had on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups in India. SMEs often face difficulties in participating in government tenders due to stringent eligibility criteria and documentation requirements. The portal has opened up new opportunities for such businesses to showcase their products and services to a wider audience and compete on a level playing field.
The GeM is an online platform launched by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India on August 9, 2016.The objective of creating an inclusive, efficient, and transparent platform for the buyers and sellers to carry out procurement activities in a fair and competitive manner.
It is open to all government departments, public sector undertakings, autonomous bodies, and other organizations. Currently, GeM stands at the third position after Singapore's GeBIZ. South Korea's KONEPS is the largest such platform in the world.
The Covid-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of digital platforms like GeM in ensuring the continuity of essential services. The portal has played a crucial role in the procurement of medical equipment and supplies during the pandemic, ensuring that they reach the intended beneficiaries on time.
GeM is an example of how digital platforms created with a strategic and clear intent to reinvigorate and reimagine legacy processes can bring about lasting change for the nation as well as the underserved. GeM has been effectively contributing to the government’s commitment of “Minimum Government, Maximum Governance”.
Advantages of GeM
GeM strives to make government procurement more transparent, efficient, and inclusive. The following are the benefits of GeM:
- Policy changes for the current public procurement ecosystem.
- Increasing inclusion and Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) with the Government (especially for smaller organizations such as MSMEs)
- Process standardization supported by a regulatory framework.
- A fully automated system made possible by advances in technology.
- A procurement portal based on categories and catalogue.
- A one-of-a-kind bid representation module in which sellers can raise representation against a bid in the public domain.
- Bidders have a unique challenge rejection window: All disqualified bidders have the right to challenge their bid rejection. Buyers cannot proceed without responding to the challenge. It is becoming more transparent.
- Advanced analytics for decision support systems, as well as fraud and anomaly detection.
- The GeM registration and product/service offering process is entirely online and free.
- The GeM allows MSMEs, startups, and women entrepreneurs to register on GeM, participate in bids, and receive preferences in accordance with applicable and enforceable procurement policies.
Significance of GeM:
- Boost to the Digital Economy: The e-marketplace can encourage the use of technology in government procurement processes, which will help India's digital economy grow.
- Inclusivity: GeM's inclusiveness focus is multifaceted, encompassing not only making the platform usable and trusted by all types of sellers, but also actively outreaching out to onboard marginalized and underserved seller segments such as Small and Medium Enterprises, Women Entrepreneurs, Startups, and artisans as well.
- Efficiency: As an end-to-end online and integrated portal, GeM increases efficiency in public procurement by eliminating manual interventions at various stages of the procurement process.
- Improved vendor participation: GeM can encourage more vendors, including small and medium-sized businesses, to participate in government procurement processes, resulting in increased competition and better value for money for the government.
- Last Mile Outreach: For last-mile outreach and service delivery, GeM has integrated with 1.5 lakh+ India Post offices and 5.2 lakh+ Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLEs) through Common Service Centres.
- Transparency: By standardizing and automating procedures, a government e-marketplace can improve the transparency and efficiency of procurement processes, reducing the scope for corruption and human error.
The success of GeM can be gauged from its impressive statistics as of February 2023, the portal has over 5.9 lakh sellers and service providers and 33 lakh products listed and has facilitated transactions worth over ₹ 3.6 lakh crore. The government has also extended the scope of GeM to include services such as transportation, logistics, and consulting, making it a comprehensive procurement solution.
GeM would eventually emerge as the National Public Procurement Portal (NPPP), in line with global best practices; most OECD countries, such as the United States, South Korea, United Kingdom, and Singapore, have a single NPPP, resulting in annual savings of billions of dollars in public procurement, as well as a boost to the domestic industry.
Government e Marketplace (GeM) has emerged as a shining example of how technology can transform public procurement in India. It has revolutionized the country's public procurement ecosystem over the last six and half years through technology, process digitization, digital integration of all stakeholders, and the use of analytics.
In the future, GeM will continue to play an important role in the expansion of the Indian economy. The platform's reach will be extended to more industries, allowing businesses to procure a diverse range of goods and services. The application of advanced technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, and machine learning will improve the platform's capabilities, making it even more efficient and secure.
GeM will also encourage businesses to adopt environmentally friendly practices in their operations by promoting the use of sustainable practices in e-commerce. This will not only benefit the environment but will also contribute to the business's long-term viability.