In a bid to provide a fillip to women-owned businesses (WOB) in the country, Walmart India, the wholly owned subsidiary of Walmart Stores, has launched `Entrepreneurship Development Program.’ It has selected 32 WOBs in the first batch, from various segments like home décor, apparels, bags, seasonal products, fashion jewellery and processed food to enhance their skill, capability and sustainability.
The initiative is designed to help women entrepreneurs achieve higher levels of business growth through a training curriculum. The curriculum will be delivered through workshops and mentoring sessions with technical experts, established women-owned businesses, academic experts and business managers.
During the nine-month programme, entrepreneurs will undergo capacity building training, mentoring and technical support customised to the needs of their businesses. For example, if the business is related to food processing, Walmart will guide them on the food safety related issues. For manufacturing, entrepreneurs will receive guidance on manufacturing compliances.
This programme is expected to expand Walmart India’s B2B cash-and-carry business, which is focussed on serving India’s kiranas and other small businesses in the country. The entrepreneurs were selected based on the following parameters: merchandise, turnover, region-based and years of operations. Along with programme partners Vrutti and WEConnect International, Walmart is also in the process of shortlisting the mentors from across the industries.
WEConnect International educates, registers and certifies women’s business enterprises outside the US and connects them with multinational corporate buyers. Vrutti aims to promote the culture of entrepreneurship by working with government, multilateral and bilateral agencies, international and national non-governmental organizations, community based organisations (CBOs), micro-finance institutions (MFIs), WOBs and corporate organisations.
The women entrepreneurship programme will further help entrepreneurs market their products, negotiate and understand the ways of accessing finance, use social media and other platforms as well as help in networking.
Krish Iyer, President and CEO, Walmart India, said,
This initiative is designed to help women entrepreneurs become more competitive and resilient in today’s dynamic business environment. We hope this programme will create a pipeline of women suppliers for the industry as well as for Walmart India, as we continue to grow in the country.”
Walmart India today owns and operates 21 best-price modern wholesale stores in nine States across India. Walmart India has integrated B2B e-commerce in all 21 stores.
It had announced the programme in January 2016 inviting applications from women entrepreneurs in different categories from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Delhi NCR, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
In September 2011, Walmart launched its (WEE) initiative to progress the lives of under-served women and help WOBs. As part of the initiative, Walmart committed to source $20 billion from women for its US business and double sourcing from WOBs internationally, including India market.
Jenny Grieser, Senior Director of Women’s Economic Empowerment for Walmart, said, “Walmart India’s leadership in empowering women will be an example for other countries around the world.”
Going forward, Walmart India will create virtual resource centres to help women entrepreneurs access toolkit and information on how to network with retailers, suppliers, banks and other key stakeholders for the business.