Union MSME Minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday urged retail giant Walmart to work with khadi and village industries to take their products, including khadi denim, to global markets. He also highlighted that the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector in India is a major job creator and contributor to the country's gross domestic product (GDP).
"Khadi gram udyog has very good products. We are making khadi denim...the quality of products is good, of international standards... I will request if you can give opportunity to khadi gram udyog. I feel that will be a unique thing for Walmart also," Gadkari said at a virtual event here.
The minister noted that the MSME sector is the backbone of the country's economy, employing over 11 crore people and is an engine to economic growth. He said the government has taken a number of steps to help the MSME sector that has seen significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gadkari suggested that Walmart can engage with sectors like handloom, handicrafts, and other village industries.
"They (industries) have unique types of products that are definitely going to give you (Walmart) more business. At the same time, it creates job opportunities in India. Our target is to increase exports, and Indian MSMEs must become part of the global supply chain," he said.
He added that global corporates such as Walmart are contributing to expanding the footprint of India's MSME industry globally, by sourcing from these enterprises and also helping the sector enhance its quality standards.
In December last year, US retail major Walmart said it would open 25 institute hubs in India over the next five years, which would train 50,000 entrepreneurs from the MSME sector. The institutes are to be opened under the Walmart Vriddhi Supplier Development Programe and would be strategically located near manufacturing clusters.
On Tuesday, Walmart said it is adding interactive online training experiences and personalised mentoring to the programme, with access to resources and experts to support growth for MSMEs. This also supports the goals of Digital India by providing MSMEs with the tools to adopt new technologies to expand their business.
Walmart Vriddhi's first all-digital e-institute will initially be open to MSMEs in Panipat, Sonipat, and Kundli, an area that is a hub of textile, steel and kitchenware production with a strong entrepreneurial heritage and a skilled workforce. "Following the COVID-19 outbreak, the programme has been reshaped to emphasise digital experiences, and this allowed it to be rolled out to more MSMEs.
"In the future, it will offer a mix of digital and in-person training, mentoring and network experiences via physical Vriddhi Institutes when conditions are favourable," Nittin Dutt, senior director and head at Walmart Vriddh, said.
The e-institute-based Vriddhi Programme provides MSMEs an easy-to-use interactive learning experience through online modules with a blend of teaching and assessment tools. Participants receive personalised feedback through virtual classrooms, formal assessments and one-on-one advisory sessions.
To prepare MSMEs to sell through new online and offline channels in India and abroad, the programme will also offer advanced training that includes personalised mentoring and the opportunity to work with service providers and peers. The programme equips MSMEs with tailored knowledge of key aspects of business management, enterprise growth, customer-centric services, manufacturing best practices, responsible sourcing and more.
"Walmart Vriddhi opens up opportunities for MSMEs to sell into Walmart's supply chains or the open marketplace. "Wherever they are in their journey and whatever their aspirations for growth, that openness makes the programme unique and puts the supplier at the centre of everything we do," Judith McKenna, president and CEO of Walmart International, said.
Flipkart Group Chief Executive Officer Kalyan Krishnamurthy said that as India adjusts to the 'new normal', digital transformation is a path to resilience for businesses. "In concert with the government's Digital India initiative, we want to help Indian MSMEs digitise so they can react to market trends and challenges with speed and agility, better serve their customers and grow their business," he said.
Flipkart and Walmart are working together on Vriddhi and other programmes to make a real difference for MSMEs and to contribute to sustained economic growth for India, he added.
Eligible MSMEs can access the digital training experience through a mobile application available on iOS and Android in both English and Hindi. Vriddhi will progressively roll out e-institutes to other regions in India, providing tailored training, mentoring and ecosystem support.