I have been a business woman for over 10 years now but my beginnings were humble. In fact, not many people know that I had to sell my wedding jewelry and mortgage my house to start my business. So I am no stranger to tough times. I feel that crisis brings out the best in me. My husband and I supply home furnishing, fabric & textile goods to domestic and international markets. All was going well, until COVID-19 crisis hit India and the country went into complete lockdown in last week of March.
I had to suddenly halt manufacturing at my factory in Sonipat, Haryana, something I was never prepared for. For three days, I was very depressed. But on the fourth day, I got up and decided that this crisis cannot stop me or my spirit.
While the sudden turn of events saw demand drop from customers, and hit business and supply chains of MSMEs like mine, I thought that this would also be an opportunity to create new products that the country needs in this challenging time.
I did some research and spoke to a few Walmart officials and decided that I will begin production of face masks and personal protective equipment (PPEs) to tap into the growing demand.
So, after the government’s directive to restart businesses, I resumed operations at my factory in Sonipat to manufacture cotton reusable masks at an affordable price.
I have a personal story to share. When I was falling short of elastic, an important raw material needed in the production of face masks, thanks to the Walmart Vriddhi network, I was immediately able to connect with one of my peers on the platform and secure a bulk consignment of elastics. This is the program’s uniqueness, it provides MSMEs like mine an access to a network and ecosystem of peers and mentors in the local communities, where we can connect with each other to share knowledge in real time.
Walmart, through the Vriddhi program, has helped me understand what all possible options can be explored during this crisis. It is important for a supplier like me to not stop or give up, even during a pandemic, and Vriddhi has helped me push the pedal here. Mentorship and advice on financial schemes, and government programs, has helped me navigate through the impact of COVID-19.
Before long, things turned around. I am on the moon because my efforts have been rewarded, and as a supplier with Walmart Best Price, I recently secured my first order of 80,000 masks from the company. I am also planning to export coordinated printed cotton masks to markets like Italy and the UK, where these are very popular and in demand.
I was introduced to the Vriddhi program when it was launched in December 2019 for training MSMEs to become part of domestic and global supply chains. The program is simple, easy to understand, and interactive, and is currently helping MSMEs to operate in the new reality.
I believe that a business must contribute to society in every way possible. I have decided to begin work on a travel safety kit called ‘Surakshitam’ which will have the basic safety and hygiene products like masks, napkins, sanitizer, soap, etc.
I also want to share my learnings with other MSMEs and I am very excited to become one of the MSME mentors in the Vriddhi program. Sharing my experience and connecting with my peers and other small businesses will help the ecosystem grow during these challenging times.