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Wadhwani Foundation launches Sahayata Initiative to assist SMEs, public workers during COVID-19 crisis

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Wadhwani Foundation has committed Rs 200 crore and is building an ecosystem of partners, including government ministries and agencies, banks, and consulting firms, to help operationalise this large and complex initiative

The Wadhwani Foundation (WF), 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, announced the Sahayata Initiative. The initiative will help distressed small and medium enterprises (SMEs) affected by the economic crisis and public health workers improve COVID-19 knowledge and skills.

Wadhwani Foundation has committed Rs 200 crore and is building an ecosystem of partners, including government ministries and agencies, banks, and consulting firms, to help operationalise this large and complex initiative. The Sahayata Initiative consists of three programmes: the Sahayata Business Stability Programme, the Sahayata COVID-19 Skilling Programme, and the Sahayata Public Health Innovation Programme. The foundation built all three Sahayata programmes over the last 90 days. The rapid deployment will begin in August 2020.

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, stabilise, 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.”

The Sahayata Business Stability programme 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 Sahayata Business Stability programme, jointly. Wadhwani Foundation is expanding its internal team dedicated to this programme 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.

The 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 programme 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 Rs 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.

The Sahayata COVID-19 Skilling Programme 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 programme 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.

The Sahayata Public Health Innovation Programme 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 Rs 25 lakhs to Rs 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.

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