Walmart hand-holds small Indian firms reinventing themselves amid pandemic

Topics Walmart India | MSMEs

These companies are creating products ranging from masks, sanitisers to testing booths and disinfection tunnels.
At a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted small enterprises in the country, many of them are pivoting their businesses to tap new opportunities and revenue streams in the domestic and global markets. Walmart, the world's largest retailer, said it is helping many of these firms to identify new demand trends, provide mentorship and advice on financial schemes and business operations. It is doing this through the ‘Walmart Vriddhi Supplier Development’ programme. 

“We have expanded our online engagement and support to MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) to help them identify new demand trends and adapt to the new economic realities of these challenging times,” said Nidhi Munjal, vice president, international partnership services of Walmart.

These companies are creating products ranging from masks, sanitisers to testing booths and disinfection tunnels. Babita Gupta, founder of Sarangi Creations has been supplying home furnishing, fabric and textiles goods to domestic and international markets since 2007 until the Covid-19 crisis hit her business like many others. As demand fell, Gupta started to look for ways to keep her business up and running. Seeing the growing demand for face masks, she resumed manufacturing at her factory in Sonipat, Haryana to supply cotton reusable masks at an affordable price. Gupta, who is a supplier with Walmart Best Price, has secured her first order of 80,000 masks from the company recently.

Sarangi Creations is also working on creating personal protective equipment (PPE production) such as medical gowns and coveralls and the plan is to tap the defence sector. The firm will begin supply to paramedical staff and hospitals, once it secures approval from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). There are also plans to export coordinated printed cotton masks to markets like Italy and the UK, where the demand is high. 
“The Covid crisis is one for which we were not prepared, and it has impacted our businesses and supply chains severely. However, we can only move forward now and learn from this pandemic to build resilience for the future,” said Gupta. “I had support from Walmart’s Vriddhi team that offered mentorship and advice on financial schemes, and government programmes, as well as business operations,” said Gupta.

Launched in December 2019, the Walmart Vriddhi Supplier Development’ programme aims to empower 50,000 Indian MSMEs to ‘Make in India’ for local and global markets.  “It is so inspiring to see Indian MSME entrepreneurs persevering through their resilience and innovation,” said Munjal of Walmart.

One of these entrepreneurs is Shivani Agarwal, founder of ‘Scraft Products Pvt Ltd.’ who was running a business of manufacturing tissue papers, toilet and kitchen rolls and aluminium foil for food packaging. With nation-wide shelter-at-home orders being enforced due to Covid-19 outbreak since March and no travels allowed, the demand for these products fell significantly. Agarwal saw the demand for essential products such as hand sanitizers and disinfectants in the early days of the Coronavirus outbreak. Just a day before the first lockdown was announced, she had managed to get the samples ready for hand sanitizers and disinfectants wipes. She started to reach corporates and retailers with her products and is now supplying to many of them.

“The business is picking up slowly and we will soon be exporting our products to some of the US markets as well,” said Agarwal, who is operating with 50 workers in a factory located in Haryana and is being supported by Walmart’s Vriddhi programme. “If things go steady, we are hoping to surpass the Rs 50 crore per annum turnover of last year.”

Sagar Asia Private Limited, a family-run enterprise started in 1977 to create hardware systems in aluminium, also took a hit due to the outbreak of Covid-19. The company produces aluminium-based products such as ladders, wind tower internals and docking systems for aircraft. Seeing the growing requirement for sanitization products, the company pivoted towards manufacturing aluminium disinfection tunnels for workers starting to resume work in factories and offices. The firm also developed their prototype aluminium testing booths, to aid contactless testing. Up to 10 aluminium testing booths have been provided to the state governments of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana by Sagar Asia, to help these states in ramping up their capacity for Covid-19 testing. The aluminium testing booths are also being used by hospitals and collection centres in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Encouraged by the response, Sagar Asia is further venturing into building aluminium contactless hand sanitizer stands and aluminium door openers. This would ensure minimal contact with surfaces to maintain hygiene in shared spaces.

“The association with Walmart has helped Sagar Asia to expand to different markets where they have a store,” said Ananth Sagar, head, business development, retail and e-commerce, Sagar Asia Private Ltd. “We also get access to their HoReCa (hotel, restaurant and cafe) channels which further helps in growing the business and customer base.” The company’s factories employ 400 people in Telangana, and the firm had recorded a turnover of around Rs 100 crore last year.

  • With Covid-19 severely impacting small enterprises, many of them are pivoting their businesses.
  • Home furnishing goods firm Sarangi Creations is now creating personal protective equipment.
  • Scraft Products Pvt Ltd is now providing hand sanitizers and disinfectants.
  • Sagar Asia Private Limited is now making aluminium disinfection tunnels and testing booths.
  • The Walmart Vriddhi Supplier Development Programme aims to empower 50,000 MSMEs in India.

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