Women in leadership roles in retail supply chains

New Delhi, Mar 8 (FN Agency) Women are important stakeholders in retail supply chains across the world – being producers, running successful enterprises, and being recognized in leadership roles. In India too, there is great potential to enhance this participation through targeted interventions and opportunity creation. Walmart has championed programs that help grow responsible and inclusive supply chains, while empowering women. It has started with including women in positions of leadership, on the board of directors, and providing all associates, including women, with the opportunity to gain training and advance their careers.

Walmart said that it has taken decisive steps to empower women suppliers to effectively work with its supply chain while helping them grow their respective businesses. In India, this effort is complemented by the Walmart Vriddhi supplier development program that aims to empower 50,000 MSMEs for joining domestic and international supply chains, in the next five years. These interventions are critical in the context of business recovery after the pandemic, which over the past year has not only reshaped global supply chains but emphasized the pre-eminence of a well-integrated offline-online model of retail. And more small businesses are migrating to digital marketplaces, realizing its potential and the business growth it promises. Babita Gupta, Founder, Sarangi Creations and Shivani Agarwal, Founder, Scraft Products, – entrepreneurs based in Panipat — have on-boarded the Flipkart e-commerce marketplace recently and have witnessed this online growth first-hand.

Both Babita and Shivani are also MSME mentors under the Vriddhi program. Babita Gupta has been supplying home furnishings, fabrics and textile goods to Flipkart Wholesale and other companies as well as to international markets for many years. She says, “The pandemic has encouraged me to digitize my business by adopting the e-commerce channel to build resilience for future.” To meet the need for accelerated digitization, and for tools and techniques to build business resilience, Vriddhi was reshaped to emphasize digital experiences, and has been extended to reinforce the ability of MSMEs to identify strategic issues, expedite digital adoption and increase efficiencies in their businesses.

The first Vriddhi e-institute was launched in Panipat in October 2020, to support MSMEs in the Panipat-Sonipat-Kundli cluster in unlocking growth for their businesses. Babita and Shivani are two such business owners, who have also become mentors for other MSMEs through sharing their journey and learnings. Shivani Agarwal’s business manufactures tissue paper, toilet and kitchen rolls, among other products. She is also accelerating her digitization journey and exploring online selling for business continuity and improved market access. Vriddhi builds on the momentum of programs like Flipkart Samarth, which supports local artisans, weavers and many rural & women entrepreneurs with support and access to markets through the Flipkart marketplace. In February 2021, a second e-Institute was launched in Agra as well.