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  Coronavirus Response

Published on: May 10, 2020, 5:16 p.m.
Partnerships define Flipkart, Walmart support in battle against the virus
  • Social distancing being practiced at a Flipkart-Walmart facility

By Ritwik Sinha. Consulting Editor, Business India

For Walmart-owned domestic e-commerce major Flipkart, the commencement of the lockdown period in March translated into a significant contraction in services. As an e-commerce player that operates with economies of scale, this is treading on new turf -- having to perform under severe restrictions that permit the distribution of largely essential items.

So while the company's commercial portfolio may have shrunk, both Flipkart and parent Walmart (through a dedicated social arm Walmart Foundation) have used adversity to strengthen corporate social activities. These initiatives are being carried out through partnerships with other agencies, and have led to the creation of programmes that focus on improving healthcare.

For instance, millions of customers were invited to participate in social programmes directed at Coronavirus-related disruptions. “Our customers and associates in India have been deeply impacted by COVID-19 and our hearts continue to be with them,” Kathleen McLaughlin, executive vice president and chief sustainability officer for Walmart and president of the Walmart Foundation commented while announcing Rs46 crore support to India-specific programmes targetted against the virus. “In times like these, we all need to come together to support our communities and the efforts of healthcare workers, non-government organisations (NGOs) and government organisations,” she added.

Walmart Inc and Flipkart also spent Rs38.3 crore to bring donations into India to help with front-line response efforts. The companies have committed to providing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), such as N95 masks and medical gowns, for distribution by NGOs to public healthcare workers. The companies have claimed to secure 300,000 N95 masks and one million medical gowns, and have said that volumes could be further scaled up if the situation warrants.

The participative nature of the campaign against the virus by involving millions of online customers reflects in a specific association with Give India, the online donation NGO which collects resources for humanitarian projects. The platform plans to raise Rs2 crore and till 6 May, more than 12,000 customers had contributed nearly Rs1.1 crore.

The associating partners are also harnessing Flipkart’s successful loyalty programme Supercoins, which allows customers to donate and contribute towards meals and masks.

“Our focus and intent through these programmes have been to contribute items that can support frontline healthcare workers through a donation in kind to ensure their safety. In addition, by providing meals and masks for those in need, we are doing our bit to help them tide over this difficult time,” says Rajneesh Kumar, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Flipkart.

The Walmart Foundation has also committed to providing a donation of Rs7.7 crore to two leading NGOs in the country - Goonj and Srijan, which reach out to vulnerable communities across the country. The funds provided to them will be primarily used for the procurement of relief materials and distribution of food and medicine, to support farmers, rural communities, and micro-businesses.

“We have been associated with Walmart Foundation and Flipkart in the past, too, assisting them in their CSR activities. As partners in this project, we will be primarily responsible for the distribution of ration kits and other essentials to the communities facing extreme distress currently due to Corona-led disruptions,” informs Anshu Gupta, founder of Delhi-headquartered Goonj, which has operational presence in the rural communities of over 20 states.

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