Bharti Walmart, the joint venture between Bharti Enterprises and Walmart Stores Inc for wholesale, business to business and cash and carry operations in India, today launched ‘Best Price Members Women’s Council’ in Chandigarh, Punjab with an aim to understand and address the hurdles faced by women entrepreneurs in their startup, scale up and other phases of business expansions.
As a tribute to the growing role of women entrepreneurs in India, this unique initiative endeavors to foster inclusive growth by providing training aimed at empowering women to better run and grow their businesses in addition to providing women greater access to market, both at a domestic and global level. The Women’s Council will also help bring Walmart’s best practices through Supplier Meets to benefit these entrepreneurs.
Announcing the initiative, Raj Jain, Managing Director and CEO, Bharti Walmart Pvt. Ltd. said, “We are committed to women’s empowerment, both within our organization and externally. Best Price Members Women’s Council will endeavour to understand the various impediments that prevent women from becoming successful entrepreneurs, make a concerted effort to address these issues and assist women entrepreneurs along their journey toward success. We will provide a common platform where women across our supplier network can collaborate, learn and share insights and best practices. Going forward, we will replicate the Punjab model in other regions across India.”
Arvind Mediratta, Chief Operating Officer, Bharti Walmart, who is leading this initiative added: “The Women’s Council will help us understand business challenges faced by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as most of the women-owned businesses tend to be of small or medium size. We can then apply this understanding to develop our business relations with SMEs on a wider scale.”
Bharti Walmart is currently engaged in a number of initiatives directed towards economic upliftment of women. These include: The Cashew Value Chain Initiative under which a women owned-and-operated community-based institution has been established to provide equitable and consistent incomes for approximately 1250 women in the cashew farming and processing sector in the coastal districts of Cuddalore and Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu. The initiative helped in setting up 3 women-owned and managed cashew processing units and 15 literacy centers.
Bharti Walmart operates Training Centres in Amritsar, Delhi, Bangalore and Jalna (Maharashtra), in a Public Private Partnership model with the State governments, in addition to running training centres within the Best Price Modern Wholesale stores in Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Zirakpur. The centres provide free of cost training to equip underprivileged youth with skills training thus making them employable. Thus far, the company has trained over 10,000 youth, of which 4000 have been employed. More than 37% of the trained youth are women.
The Sunhara Walmart project, in Uttar Pradesh aims to empower 2,500 underprivileged, rural women through training in best agricultural practices and linkages to higher value market outlets.
Bharti Walmart’s CSR initiatives in education are aimed at improving the quality of education for children in Government and NGO-run schools. The company has partnered with Hope Foundation to adopt 50 schools and impact 20,000 children, of which 75% will be girls.