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Walmart Vriddhi

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From small to sustainable: Indian MSMEs lead the eco-friendly charge

In five years since its launch in 2019, Walmart Vriddhi has trained more than 50,000 Indian MSMEs, providing them with mentoring and business advisory opportunities supporting their growth.

Team YS

Walmart Vriddhi

From small to sustainable: Indian MSMEs lead the eco-friendly charge

Wednesday June 05, 2024 , 4 min Read

When Bhavana Gulati, a home science professor from Jaipur, Rajasthan, decided to become an entrepreneur, her vision was to develop a planet-friendly sustainable enterprise. Today, she leads a business that sells engraved products made from eco-friendly materials. Gulati’s business, The Engraved Store, offers a variety of functional and personalised items such as board games, wooden jewelry, and office and travel accessories. Each product is handmade and laser cut, with many items made from high-quality, recycled. wooden material.

It was an uphill journey for Gulati as a first-time entrepreneur, establishing a business in a segment with many well-established competitors, but she remained committed to her goal. "I knew I had something special to offer, something that could stand out in the crowded marketplace," says the businesswoman, who aims to keep growth and sustainability hand in hand.

Like Gulati, a growing number of entrepreneurs are increasingly committed to building businesses based on sustainable practices and principles that combine ecological sensitivity and social responsibility.

Prerna Mishra, a young budding entrepreneur from Jharkhand, quit her corporate job to set up Natureship Foods during the pandemic. Her venture is a true social enterprise that aims to empower rural tribal women and small-scale farmers in her home state. Mishra creates healthy food products using traditional processes such as stone grinding, hand roasting in iron vessels, and hand pounding. These are economical and sustainable food production methods, and the organic nature of Natureship’s food products sets them apart in the market.

“When consumers shop from us, they become the changemakers, contributing to livelihood opportunities for tribal farmers and women while also giving themselves the gift of healthy food such as sattu, katarni, chuda, chaval, pulses and regular stone-ground flour,” she says.

Many of these businesses have grown and scaled with the support of programmes such as Walmart Vriddhi. In five years since its launch in 2019 in India, the programme has trained over 50,000 MSMEs, providing them with mentoring and business advisory opportunities to support their growth. Available at no cost to MSMEs across India, it has also helped many entrepreneurs onboard as sellers on to the Flipkart Marketplace. They are free to join other ecommerce sites as well.

Gulati says, “The programme introduced me to different elements of sustainable business practices, prompting me to adopt more sustainable methods in my production, thereby helping me enhance my brand’s appeal and fostering my commitment to the environment. Additionally, the learning programme helped me grow my business by 20-30%.”

With her background as an MBA graduate, Mishra credits the programme for helping take her business to the next level with tailored support and guidance from the programme’s mentor.

Another business that has grown through Walmart Vriddhi is Ecoserve India. Owned by former advertising professional Anindita Chaudhuri, this venture is inspired by her passion to build a sustainable and equitable business. The Pune-based business creates bags, plates, baskets, jewelry, corporate gifts, wedding and event boxes made from natural fibres and materials like kauna grass, shitalpati, bamboo, palmyra leaf waterhycinth, and areca leaves.

Chaudhuri, who grew up in West Bengal's Durgapur, surrounded by Sal and Piyal trees, has always felt close to nature. She believes that a lot of hard work and perseverance are involved in creating a market for a business that sells nature-friendly products, but that it is well worth it. As a CII-certified green auditor, she is committed to continuing to highlight the importance of sustainability and its application in business to fellow entrepreneurs. She also appreciates how the Walmart Vriddhi programme helped her make her products cost-competitive and to package and market them to both B2C and B2B customers, leading to a 50% increase in revenue.

These three women-led enterprises demonstrate how MSMEs in India are showing greater ecological custodianship while building sustainable businesses and products. As Gulati puts it, “At the core of my venture’s future is my commitment to sustainability.”