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#StartupsVsCovid19: Amazon Sets Up SMB Fund As Ecommerce Discounts End On Lockdown Day 36

#StartupsVsCovid19: Amazon Sets Up SMB Fund As Ecommerce Discounts End On Lockdown Day 36

Paytm raised more than INR 2 Cr for ‘Feed My City’ initiative

Amazon has set up a new relief endowment Partner Support Fund

Zomato withdraws all merchant discounts from its platform

On day 36 of the lockdown, the Indian government dropped a big hint that the lockdown might get extended beyond May 3. The home ministry extended relaxed VPN connectivity norms for IT companies till July 31. The move is likely to simplify work from home for IT companies. Earlier, companies were not allowed to connect office VPN to home infrastructure, a rule that was subsequently relaxed in view of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, fintech major Paytm said it has raised more than INR 2 Cr for ‘Feed My City’ initiative. In partnership with KVN Foundation, Paytm is serving meals to daily wage earners in Noida, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, and Hyderabad. As of now, Paytm and KVN Foundation are donating over 1 Lakh meals per day.

Amazon, BlackBuck Back Partners

To support small and medium businesses (SMBs), ecommerce major Amazon has set up a new relief endowment Partner Support Fund. The fund for SMBs in logistics will allow them to revamp their business model to fit the upcoming trends in the post-Covid-19 world. Amazon is also looking to provide financial aid to approximately 40K of its staff in April.

The fund will also help in covering some critical fixed infrastructure costs and support liquidity and cash flow for these small businesses, especially when they resume and scale their operations post-lockdown.

Meanwhile, logistics startup BlackBuck has adopted a slew of measures to enhance freight movement for bringing the logistics industry back on track. BlackBuck has launched the ‘Move India’ initiative by BlackBuck aims to restart the movement of trucks and goods across the country.

Manufacturers and traders, which have either started production or have stock ready, can now use the BlackBuck platform to book trucks instantly. The startup has completely waived off commission to support the trucking community in times of distress. Small distributors, who were not clients of BlackBuck, can also use the platform for free. Other initiatives include direct money transfers and trip insurance for truck owners and drivers.

BlackBuck has also established an INR 50 Cr relief fund for its driver-partners who might contract Covid-19 while working. Affected driver-partners will get INR 50 Lakh.

Bengaluru-based home rental startup NestAway has taken a host of measures to support its users and property owners. To start with, Nestaway is reducing the onboarding charges by 50% for anyone who had planned to move into Nestaway’s properties before the lockdown was put in place.

Also, Nestaway is allowing all the frontline workers to stay at its properties with 100% off on onboarding charges. For property-owners, which are tied-up with Nestaway for more than two years, the startup has set up an INR 50 Lakh fund to support them in these hard times.

For migrants struck in Kota, Nestaway is providing free stay and food under the ‘Hello World’ initiative. As of now, more than 30 migrants and 30 healthcare staff are living at Hello World’s properties. One building in Kota has been dedicated to healthcare staff with food and basic facilities in Kota. Other initiatives include canteen for doctors and guards and hostel managers for security reasons.

LetsVenture, Vivo & Esper Bolster Healthcare

Supporting the healthcare ecosystem of the country, angel network platform LetsVenture has partnered with StartupVsCovid-19 forum to support the latter’s three initiatives — India Telemedicine Helpline, COVID-19 critical care centres, and Droneman.

Under the India Telemedicine Helpline, the group provides various state government helplines with a scalable telephony system to handle incoming calls. As part of the Droneman project, the team has created a platform that aims to aggregate demand across all services which require drone technology.

Smartphone maker Vivo claimed that it has donated around 15K personal protective equipment (PPE) suits and 50K litres of sanitizer to the central government to ensure the safety of the frontline workers. Previously, Vivo had donated around 9 Lakh masks to the state and central government.

Also, Bengaluru-based enterprise tech startup Esper is also offering its technology to healthcare organisations to remotely connect with patients via android devices. This helps doctors to understand whether the patient needs emergency care or not.

No More Discounts

In the wake of the lockdown, people are not left with many options for buying essentials and hyperlocal delivery startups are now looking at this as an opportunity to eliminate heavy discounts from their platforms.

Food delivery unicorn Zomato said that it is withdrawing all the merchant discounts from the platform. Merchant discount is the part of discounts offered by restaurant partners to the users. The decision is expected to draw criticism from users and restaurant-partners.

A Zomato spokesman said the rationale behind the move is safety for its customers and restaurant partners amid pandemic. “Discounts drive impulse purchases, and we want to serve only the most essential food-delivery orders now — for our customers’ and our delivery partners’ safety,” the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, MilkBasket CEO Anant Goel said in an email to customers that with the multi-fold increase in costs of serving orders, the losses have jumped and therefore the startup is passing a portion of this cost to customers. MilkBasket’s rival Supr Daily has notified the users on the application that it will charge INR 2 per litre for fresh milk while taking INR 20 delivery fees for one-time orders.

At the same time, hyperlocal delivery platforms Dunzo and Swiggy’s Genie have also hiked their delivery fees. Swiggy has stopped renewals for its free delivery subscription programmer Super.

Easing Access To Essentials

Ecommerce major Flipkart has partnered with cab aggregator Meru to provide people access to essential items as they stay indoors during the ongoing lockdown. The tie-up will facilitate the delivery of groceries and staples in Delhi NCR and Hyderabad. The partnership will also help the driver-partners of Meru earn a living till the time a ban has been imposed on cab aggregators.

To ensure a free flow of essential goods amid lockdown in rural areas, the government has decided to work with nearly 2,000 Common Service Centres. Over 3.8 Lakh CSCs across the country reach over 60 Cr people.

These outlets set up and run by private individuals under the aegis of the ministry of electronics and IT have been engaging in the sale and supply of essential commodities like vegetables, milk, pulses, fruits and other products.

Moreover, Britannia Industries launched a ‘store locator’ service to enable consumers to find their Britannia products in stores nearby. The GPS-based chatbot provides a list of stores near the consumer’s current location.