Indian American billionaire Romesh Wadhwani launches initiative to help Indian SMEs

Romesh T. Wadhwani

Wadhwani Foundation’s $26 million Wadhwani Sahayata initiative to help 10,000 SMEs navigate covid crisis, create 100,000 jobs.

Indian American billionaire philanthropist Romesh Wadhwani is investing Rs. 2 billion ($26 million) in a three part initiative to help 10,000 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in India to survive the covid -19 crisis and create 100,000 jobs.

Besides helping distressed SMEs, the The Wadhwani Sahayata (Help) initiative launched by his Wadhwani Foundation will assist India’s public health workers including almost three million Asha and Anganwadi workers, to improve their covid-19 related knowledge and skills.

“Covid-19 has created both a health and an economic crisis that is especially harming SMEs and jobs,” said the Palo Alto, California resident with an electrical engineering degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. “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 SME’s with consulting services that will help them survive, stabilize, and ultimately grow into successful businesses and help save or create 100,000 jobs.” 

READ: Indian American philanthropists Romesh and Sunil Wadhwani set up artificial intelligence center in Mumbai (February 19, 2018)

“All of the Foundation’s own consultants, existing and new content, and technology will be provided pro bono to SMEs,” he said.

Its Business Stability program will start helping SMEs in August 2020 with an initial rate of 50 SMEs per month, increasing progressively to 500 SMEs per month, the foundation said. 

The initial SME engagement model will be a combination of high and low touch consultant engagement, depending on the size of the SME, from startups to companies doing up to Rs. 250 million ($3.35 million) in revenue. 

In the mid-term, to serve a much larger number of SMEs, Wadhwani Foundation said it is developing an AI-powered self-service technology platform that SMEs will use, thus diminishing the need for consultants. 

The Foundation hopes to launch this next generation self-service SME transformation platform in mid-2021.

It has signed partnerships with SIDBI, Clix Capital, IIFL Finance, Power2SME, and Magma Fincorp, to jointly select the SMEs that will be part of this program. 

The Foundation is also expanding its internal team dedicated to this program to 100 SME business consultants and planning to partner with several curated individual subject matter experts, advisors and mentors.

This team of consultants will use the Foundation’s comprehensive and growing digital video library of business transformation and best practices content as well as its GENIE advanced technology platform for SME engagement. 

READ: Romesh Wadhwani richest of eight Indian American billionaires (March 21, 2017)

The Foundation is also establishing an academy to train SME business consultants in Sahayata-specific best practices, content, and technology.

The Sahayata covid-19 Skilling program is providing India’s public health workers including almost three million Asha and Anganwadi workers, home health workers, and nurse’s aides all the essential information in interactive video format through a variety of digital channels. 

Basic information on covid-19 is available on a dedicated YouTube channel. Additional information, including interactive Q&A and knowledge testing, will be provided to public health workers via WhatsApp. 

Even more detailed skilling content and certification will be available on the Wadhwani Foundation’s digital platform/portal as well as other partners and government portals, such as iGot. 

The initial goal is of skilling 5,000 public health workers per month and increasing to 50,000 per month, ultimately serving 500,000 to one million health workers.

The Sahayata Public Health Innovation program will provide innovation grants or investments to up to 50 startups and early-stage companies to help accelerate innovation in public health technology in India. Each award will be in the Rs 2.5 million ($33,500) to Rs 10 million ($134,000) range. 

The Foundation said it has already made several direct and indirect grants as part of the Wadhwani Sahayata, and the number of candidate companies for such grants and investments is growing rapidly.

One Comment

  1. This is a worthwhile endeavor and believe it will benefit thousands of people across India. I am a workforce training consultant and published author of “Everyday Experiences to Improve Work and Life: Reflective Strategies from a Motivational Leader.”

    I would love to support this work by partnering with businesses and organizations in India.

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