For the first time ever, Indian social media isn’t flooded with weekend plans or movie promotions. There is no traffic at the hot party spots and there are no #OOTN posts. For a change, everyone is at home, finding ways to manage work, stress and stay safe from the Covid-19 pandemic.
As India completed three days of lockdown, the startup ecosystem has kept its innovation going and is doing its share to help the impacted stakeholders and citizens in these stressful times. For instance, cab aggregator Ola has set up a fund for drivers who are unable to work during the lockdown.
Startups Raise Funds To Help The Needy
The company’s cofounder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal is foregoing his salary for 1 year and has come together with employees and investors to pool INR 20 Cr towards the fund. Further, it is a crowdsourced fund which asks the public to further invest towards providing essential support to these off-road drivers in the pandemic.
Zomato also launched a crowdsourced fund called ‘Feed the Daily Wager’, to which Zomato employees have also donated. Further, ITC is also setting up a Contingency Fund of INR 150 Cr to address and manage the challenges arising out of this adversity. This fund will be utilised primarily to provide relief to the vulnerable and most needy sections of society, and district health and rural healthcare ecosystem in semi-urban and rural areas.
Beyond this, Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) has launched SAFE (SIDBI Assistance to Facilitate Emergency response against Coronavirus) scheme. It is a financial assistance program for businesses which are engaged in the manufacturing of products or offers services related to fighting coronavirus.
MSMEs engaged in manufacturing of hand sanitisers, masks, gloves, headgear, bodysuits, shoe-covers, ventilators, goggles, testing lab equipment can avail loans up to INR 50 lakh at a fixed interest rate of 5 per cent for a maximum loan repayment tenure of 5 years. These are collateral-free loans and can be sanctioned within 48 hours of applying and submission of documents.
Apart from the support of SIDBI, the Indian business community is still awaiting a relief package from the government. However, today, the Reserve Bank of India came up with financial relief for individuals:
- RBI has announced a three-month moratorium on term loans taken by corporates and individuals
- The moratorium will apply on corporate loans, home loans, and car loans, among others
- RBI also announced that it has reduced the repo rate by 75 basis points to 4.4%
- The reverse repo rate has been dropped been cut by 90 basis points to 4% to support the economy going
- A total of INR 3.74 Lakh Cr will be infused to India’s financial system
Further, today, commerce minister Piyush Goyal in a virtual meeting discussed the concerns of ecommerce players. He tweeted saying he also discussed measures that can be taken to resolve issues as soon as possible.
Delivery Hurdles Being Cleared
Further, BigBasket has now resumed operations across all cities and will be prioritising the delivery of delayed orders. Also, ShopKirana has received government approval to supply essentials to kirana stores to help the supply chain.
However, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Goa, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Assam, Pondicherry and some parts of Punjab are not allowing delivery-partners to deliver food to the users of Zomato and Swiggy amid the lockdown.
DPIIT has also established a control room and is monitoring the supply chain of essential commodities in real-time. It is ensuring that the transportation and delivery of essential items don’t face any disruption amid the lockdown to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country.
Innovation Takes On Covid-19
At the same time, the adversities and challenges haven’t slowed down the innovative solutions by the country’s ecosystem. Here’s what startups are doing amid the crisis:
- Staqu is enabling the government of Punjab to help provide online passes to emergency service providers amid lockdown. The executives can fill an application online, and it gets approved by the Punjab Police based on the urgency and need, and upon approval, the applicant receives only an E-pass.
- Bajaj Electrical has opened up their facilities across the country for innovators and startups who wish to make ventilators
- Pristyn through its network of over 100 fulltime specialists offers Online consultation with Doctors while at home to all patients on Covid 19 and other specialities like Internal Medicine ( physician ) General Surgery (Laser and Laparoscopic surgeries), Vascular surgeries, ENT, Gynaecology, and Urology
- Pine Labs has made ePOS, an Android mobile payment application (app) for merchants, to process payments via credit cards, debit cards, UPI and mobile wallets through a single app interface.
- Innovaccer has partnered with the Government of Puducherry to provide patients with self-evaluation assessments and monitoring vulnerable citizens for coronavirus
- EthAum Venture Partners along with over 200 volunteers is trying to build and donate over 1,000 4-way Ventilator Splitter to the Indian hospitals
Further, there are several helplines being set up by startups for different segments:
- Aquaconnect has launched an emergency helpline number to support Indian shrimp and fish farmers during the pandemic lockdown
- Facebook has facilitated Corona Helpdesk Chatbot on Messenger to raise awareness, provide authentic and accurate information and bust fake news about coronavirus.
- GiveIndia has launched a campaign to provide food to the needy and provide them with hygiene kits across India
- Huami Amazfit has announced the launch of a dedicated Whatsapp helpline for doctors and hospitals who are in need of hygiene supply and high-quality masks