American retail giant, Walmart, has always expressed its commitment towards India through its support to the large Indian MSME community from which it sources not just for its cash & carry and ecommerce (Flipkart) businesses, but also for its global outsourcing arm that supplies to the US, Canada, UK, Mexico, Central America and other developed markets. Its e-commerce arm, Flipkart, itself has over 200,000 MSMEs on its platform. The American retailer’s (which is trying hard to be part of the 1.3 billion Indian consumption story) most recent initiative is the Walmart Vridhhi Supplier Development Program, which aims to empower 50,000 small and medium manufacturers in the next five years. Speaking to Business Today, Nittin Dutt, Senior Vice-President (Merchandising Operations), Walmart India, says, “We are already working with MSMEs for our various businesses. Through Vriddhi, the thought is to provide a platform to develop and build their capabilities so that they could pursue larger opportunities with Walmart .”

Dutt says that he and his team have been travelling through the country to MSME clusters such as Kundali and Khurja, identifying entrepreneurs and offering them training on basic elements of financial management , operations management, how to build a portfolio and also market it. “If somebody owns a small textile manufacturing facility or there is a glassware manufacturer, our aim would be to train them to be able to scale up their business and also be relevant for our large global supply chain in Bangalore.” Walmart, says Dutt, is in the process of setting up 25 training centres in MSME clusters across the country.

The Walmart senior management is known to have met Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the US last year and briefed him about their MSME empowerment programme in India. “The focus is to increase exports from MSMEs by training them to become globally competent,” says Rajneesh Kumar, SVP and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Flipkart Group.

While Vriddhi seeks to make MSMEs equipped to do business at a global level, Walmart has also announced a pilot blockchain technology for end to end traceability of shrimps from Andhra Pradesh to select Sam’s Club (Walmart’s membership-only warehouse clubs) locations in the US. “So, this project actually helps the farmers and entrepreneurs to strengthen the shrimp supply chain and promote India as a preferred source for seafood,” explains Prameela Mallaiah, Director (India Hub Lead), Walmart Global Sourcing.

Flipkart’s fashion arm, Myntra, is among the most popular online fashion destinations in India, and a significant proportion of the Myntra merchandise are local brands. Walmart has recently launched Myntra in Canada and is also planning to offer an omni-channel experience with the launch of Myntra physical stores. “So, we are doing our bit to see how we can take local to global within our own entities and how we could delight our customers worldwide. Apart from that, we have a lot of supplier stories where they’ve grown with us. There are hundreds of MSMEs who not just service us but also service a lot of other well-known retailers. So, we do not really develop a supplier just to hold on to them but also help them to spread their wings,” says Mallaiah.

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