Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the core of every economy and the growth driver of all emerging economies. Unfortunately, the economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 public health crisis has severely damaged SMEs, far more than large enterprises. Larger companies generally have larger, more robust balance sheets, access to capital and management resources, and are more resilient in such a crisis. SMEs are much less resilient and need both capital and expertise to survive now, stabilize in the near term and position themselves for growth in the mid- and long-term. The Government of India has recently established an extensive, vital credit program for SMEs. However, in addition to credit, SMEs need to understand the best strategies and operational best practices to address challenges with customers, broken supply chains, and disrupted internal processes, including cash management and employee retention.

The Sahayata Business Stability program will provide up to 10,000 SMEs with transformational business consulting at a highly subsidized rate, equipping them with the expertise necessary to survive, stabilize, and grow in the face of these challenges. While an SME’s long-term success depends on many factors, the Sahayata program’s objective is to help SME’s navigate through this crisis towards survival and success and ultimately help save or create 100,000 jobs.

Wadhwani Foundation 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. Wadhwani Foundation is expanding its internal team dedicated to this program to 100 SME business consultants. Additionally, the Wadhwani Foundation is planning to partner with KPMG and other leading global consulting firms, FlexingIt, GroCurv, and other leading local consulting firms like Strategy Garage, Bada Business, VentureBean Consulting, The Catalyst, Imbibe Consultancy Services, Black Brix Services, KonektUp, CFOBridge, Midas CFO and, and several curated individual subject matter experts, advisors and mentors, to provide 100-150 SME consultants to this Sahayata initiative, partly pro bono, and partly at substantially discounted rates. This team of consultants, including WF team members and seconded consultants, will use the Wadhwani Foundation’s comprehensive and growing digital video library of business transformation and best practices content as well as the Wadhwani Foundation’s GENIE 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.

This Sahayata 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 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 INR 250 Crore in revenue. In the mid-term, to serve a much larger number of SMEs, Wadhwani Foundation is developing an AI-powered self-service technology platform that SMEs will use, thus diminishing the need for consultants. Wadhwani Foundation hopes to launch this next generation self-service SME transformation platform in mid-2021.

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