The Bangalore-based Wadhwani Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 2000 by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Romesh Wadhwani, has announced an INR 200 crore ($26 million) initiative to assist small- to mid-size enterprises (SMEs) and public health workers in India impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Set to launch in August, the Sahayata Initiative has three components: the Sahayata Small Business Stability Program, which will receive approximately 70 percent of the funding and will provide up to ten thousand (SMEs) in India with strategy and business consulting services aimed at helping them address challenges arising from the pandemic; the Sahayata COVID-19 Skilling Program, which will provide critical information in digital formats to public health workers, including Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) and village-based Anganwadi workers, home health workers, and nurses’ aides; and the Sahayata Public Health Innovation Program, which will work to accelerate public health technology innovation in India by providing grants or investments to up to fifty start-up and early-stage companies in the telemedicine, real-time diagnostic, and patient monitoring/care space.
"COVID-19 has created both a health and an economic crisis that is especially harming SMEs and jobs," said Wadhwani. "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 ten thousand SMEs with consulting services that will help them survive, stabilize, and ultimately grow into successful businesses and help save or create a hundred thousand jobs. All of the foundation’s own consultants, existing and new content, and technology will be provided pro bono to SMEs."