Walmart today announced the expansion of its COVID-19 support efforts for MSMEs with the launch of Vriddhi Cares. The new program helps MSMEs support their family members and employees with telecare services and health advice and provides ongoing access to pandemic-related business advice and resources. MSMEs have been receiving capacity-building support via Walmart Vriddhi since the start of the pandemic, helping them grow to new markets through Flipkart and Walmart channels and the open marketplace.
Nidhi Munjal, Vice President, International Partnership Services at Walmart, said, “India’s MSMEs are working hard to prioritize the well-being of those they care about while also navigating the unprecedented business impacts of COVID-19. Vriddhi Cares is designed to provide easy access to trusted healthcare and business advice so that MSMEs are equipped to help their families, workforce and communities get through this tough time.”
With Vriddhi Cares, Walmart partner Swasti is providing free telecare services that offer remote access to doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers via phone for MSMEs and their families and employees. These professionals can provide daily check-ins to monitor symptoms and offer counselling and support. The program further provides updated information on vaccine guidelines, home quarantine procedures and caregiving, in English, Hindi, Kannada and Tamil.
Offering pandemic-related business advice tailored to MSMEs, Vriddhi Cares also includes an ongoing webinar series that participants can join live or watch on demand. Topics are covered in-depth by guest experts, with opportunities for attendees to ask questions and share their concerns. Webinars held in the past month have covered workforce protection, pandemic protocols for factories, workforce health insurance schemes, access to financial support and digital marketing.
Jagjeet Harode, Head of Marketplace, Flipkart, said: “Every day at Flipkart, we see the resilience and resourcefulness of India’s small business owners in action. In the face of this devastating pandemic, more and more are turning to technology and e-commerce to help them keep their businesses operating and their employees in work. Vriddhi’s aim to help MSMEs prosper has never been more important and we are honored to travel this journey together with India’s diverse MSME community.”
Hemalata Ghadiali, Owner of Vrushtee Creations, joined Walmart Vriddhi in October 2020. With digitalization support from the program, she pivoted to online sales during the pandemic to help her safeguard her business and support her 14-strong workforce. “I’ve gained a lot from the Vriddhi Cares webinars over the past weeks and I’m glad to say that we’re introducing new workforce safety measures as a result. We’re also a lot more aware of how we can access insurance for our staff and use digital marketing and sales channels for business growth,” she said.
Shiv Kumar, Co-founder and Chief Mentor, Swasti, said: “The pandemic is no longer only a health emergency, but now a humanitarian and economic crisis as well. The Vriddhi Cares program is designed to help MSMEs and their employees move towards recovery with tailored support. We are committed to supporting MSMEs in this crucial hour of need and to continuing to provide critical market access via Walmart Vriddhi to help them build resilience for the future.”
Launched in December 2019, Walmart Vriddhi helps MSMEs develop the business skills needed to succeed as suppliers to Walmart, Flipkart and other companies in India and around the world. With Vriddhi e-Institutes opened in Panipat, Agra, Bengaluru, Surat, Tirupur and Kanpur so far, the program provides a digitally enhanced learning experience through online modules with personalized feedback and one-on-one advisory sessions. The goal is to empower 50,000 MSMEs over five years.
Vriddhi participants are currently benefiting from a tailored ‘Response to COVID-19’ training module that presents actionable advice and relevant case studies. Accessed through the Vriddhi self-learning platform, the online module is designed to help MSMEs anticipate and navigate the impact of COVID-19 on their workforce and business. Downloadable guidelines are also offered to provide practical advice as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Walmart, Flipkart, PhonePe and the Walmart Foundation have mobilized their global resources to support India’s COVID-19 response since early 2020, providing financial donations and personal protective equipment and contributing to the national vaccination drive. To combat the surge in COVID-19 cases, Walmart committed to donate 20 oxygen-generating plants, 20 cryogenic containers, more than 3,000 oxygen concentrators and 500 oxygen cylinders. Walmart has also committed to fund an additional 2,500 oxygen concentrators, and the Walmart Foundation donated an additional INR 148.2 million (USD $2 million) to support two NGOs responding in India.