The Wadhwani Foundation (WF) today announced the Sahayata Initiative to help distressed small and medium enterprises (SMEs) affected by the economic crisis and public health workers improve COVID-19 knowledge and skills. The Wadhwani Foundation is a leading non-profit Foundation serving India and other developing countries with the mission of accelerating job creation through large scale initiatives in entrepreneurship, SME growth, and skilling.
Wadhwani Foundation has committed INR 200 Crore and is building an ecosystem of partners, including government ministries and agencies, banks, and consulting firms, to help operationalize this large and complex initiative. The Sahayata Initiative consists of three programs: the Sahayata Business Stability program, the Sahayata COVID-19 Skilling program, and the Sahayata Public Health Innovation program. The Foundation built all three Sahayata programs over the last 90 days. Rapid deployment will begin in August 2020.
Padma Shri Dr. Romesh Wadhwani, Founder and Chairman, Wadhwani Foundation, said, “COVID-19 has created both a health and an economic crisis that is especially harming SMEs and jobs. Without proper credit and consulting support, the short- and long-term damage to the SME sector will be enormous. The Foundation’s large investment in Sahayata supplements the government’s massive stimulus package by providing 10,000 SMEs with consulting services that will help them survive, stabilize, and ultimately grow into successful businesses and help save or create 100,000 jobs. All of the Foundation’s own consultants, existing and new content, and technology will be provided pro bono to SMEs.”
Sahayata Business Stability Program: SMEs are the core of every economy, but the economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic has severely damaged this growth driver of all emerging economies. Larger companies generally have larger, more robust balance sheets, access to capital and management resources, and are more resilient. SMEs are much less resilient and need both capital and expertise to survive now, stabilize in the near term, and position themselves for growth. While the Government of India recently established an extensive, vital credit program for SMEs, these SMEs also need help with strategy and operational best practices to address challenges with customers, broken supply chains, and disrupted processes such as management and employee retention.
The Sahayata Business Stability program will provide up to 10,000 SMEs with transformational business consulting equipping them with the expertise necessary to survive, stabilize, and grow.
Wadhwani Foundation has signed partnerships with SIDBI, Clix Capital, IIFL Finance, Power2SME, and Magma Fincorp to select the SMEs for this program, jointly. Wadhwani Foundation is expanding its internal team dedicated to this program to 100 SME business consultants. Additionally, the Foundation is planning to partner with KPMG, FlexingIt, GroCurv, Strategy Garage, Bada Business, VentureBean Consulting, The Catalyst, Imbibe Consultancy Services, Black Brix Services, KonektUp, CFOBridge, Midas CFO, Dhandabadhao.com, and several curated individual subject matter experts, advisors and mentors, to provide SME consultants to this Sahayata initiative, at pro bono or substantially discounted rates. This combined team of consultants will use the Foundation’s comprehensive and growing digital video library of business transformation and best practices content and the Foundation’s advanced technology platform for SME engagement. Wadhwani Foundation is also establishing an academy to train SME business consultants in Sahayata-specific best practices, content, and technology.
Starting in August 2020, this Sahayata program will sign up 50 SMEs per month, increasing progressively to 500 SMEs per month. After an initial high-touch engagement model supporting companies with revenue up to INR 250 crores, Wadhwani Foundation will launch the next-generation, AI-powered self-service GENIE platform in mid-2021 to scale the program to additional SMEs.
Arun. M. Kumar, Chairman, and CEO, KPMG in India, said, “We are pleased to put our shoulder to the wheel with Wadhwani Foundation’s Sahayata Initiative to help SMEs that have been severely impacted by COVID-19. We are proud to partner with the Foundation and Mr. Romesh Wadhwani in their visionary intervention to help this section of the industry that accounts for a disproportionate number of jobs and livelihoods.”
Shri Mohammad Mustafa, Chairman and Managing Director, SIDBI, said, “In the extraordinary circumstances of COVID-19, we believe that leading organizations should partner with each other to help MSMEs. As a responsive measure to facilitate revival and thriving of MSMEs, we are glad to know that Wadhwani Foundation, our existing MoU partner on mentoring MSMEs, is launching Sahayata Business Stability program. It shall provide free access to webinars, Do-It-Yourself tools, a curated bench of advisors, and mentors. This shall facilitate the emergence of stronger MSMEs, thus giving a fillip to the national mission of Aatmanirbhar Bharat.”
Pramod Bhasin, Founder and Chairman, Clix Capital, said, “While the government through various measures has ensured that affordable credit is available to MSMEs who need it, expertise and specialized talent across specific areas continue to be a major handicap. Through our partnership with the Wadhwani Foundation, we aim to create a support program to plug the skill gap for our MSME partners with measurable outcomes.”
Sahayata COVID-19 Skilling Program: In addition to physicians and nurses at city hospitals and clinics, India’s public health infrastructure includes almost three million Asha and Anganwadi workers, home health workers, and nurses’ aides, as well as police and other volunteers. All are a crucial part of the public health response to COVID-19. However, most have limited access to needed knowledge to protect themselves and diagnose and care for COVID-19 patients. Information on the World Health Organization and other government websites is often difficult to find, understand, or use. The Sahayata COVID-19 Skilling program provides essential information in an interactive video format through a variety of digital channels. Basic information on COVID-19 will be available on a dedicated YouTube channel. Additional information, including interactive Q&A and knowledge testing, will be provided via WhatsApp. Even more detailed skilling content and certification will be available on the Wadhwani Foundation’s digital platform/portal and through other partners and government portals, such as iGot. The program will launch in August with an initial goal of skilling 5,000 existing and new public health workers per month and increasing to 50,000 per month, ultimately serving 500,000 to one million existing and new health workers.
Sahayata Public Health Innovation Program: The COVID-19 crisis has shown how unprepared countries are in dealing with a pandemic. Most countries underinvest in public health infrastructure, and this hobbles rapid response in a crisis. An enormous opportunity for innovation in public health exists, especially using today’s new digital technologies, including telemedicine, real-time diagnostics and testing, and patient monitoring and care. Much of this necessary innovation will come from start-ups and early-stage companies that struggle to find sufficient venture capital to achieve their mission. The Sahayata Public Health Innovation program will provide innovation grants or investments to up to 50 start-ups and early-stage companies to help accelerate innovation in public health technology in India. Each award will be between INR 25 lakhs to INR 1 Crore. The Wadhwani Foundation has already made several direct and indirect grants; the number of candidate companies for such grants and investments is growing rapidly.
Sahayata Program for Other Countries: Wadhwani Foundation delivers on its global mission through teams in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America, with a focus on Mexico and Brazil, all of which have been severely affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Wadhwani Foundation will launch Sahayata in Mexico in August 2020, in partnership with states, including Mexico City, Jalisco, Chihuahua and Yucatan, and major consulting firms, including EY, KPMG, DELOITTE, Santander, GCG, CCMX, CAREINTRA, CONCAMIN, KONFIO, Fondeo Directo, FIDEAPECH and IYEM. Wadhwani Foundation plans to expand Sahayata to Brazil early in 2021 and in Africa and Southeast Asia (Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh) in mid-2021.