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#StartupsVsCovid19: Unicorns, Tech Startups Find New Ways To Keep Business Going

#StartupsVsCovid19: Unicorns, Tech Startups Find New Ways To Keep Business Going

FM Sitharaman announced an INR 170K Cr relief package for vulnerable sections

Zoho Corp looks to waive off subscription fee for select customers

TikTok plans to donate $10 Mn to support WHO in combating the pandemic

With the nationwide lockdown coming into effect within hours of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement, pretty much everything was disrupted and most businesses had to deal with the new reality of not being able to function normally. After enforcing a strict lockdown for 21 days, the government is now busy formulating the framework for how essential services and other needs will be fulfilled. While on Day 1, the challenge was to get things up and running in the first place, the second day of the lockdown brought in some relief for the marginalised sections of the population.

The focus shifted towards the grievances for the vulnerable segments — daily wagers, elderly, farmers, women and more.

Meanwhile, global giants and Indian startups are on their toes with several updates, new operational processes, and announcements to ensure that delivery of services is unhindered. With up to 84% senior management professionals saying that Covid-19 has had a large or moderate impact on their businesses in a YouGov survey, this is the toughest time for many businesses.

PM Modi Addresses G20 Summit Virtually

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the G20 virtual summit at 6:30 PM on March 26 to discuss the issues related to coronavirus. Here are some of the things highlighted by the PM Modi.

  • There is a need for reforming and empowering international organisation like the World Health Organisation (WHO) to deal with pandemics.
  • G20 nations should work together to reduce economic hardships, especially in poor nations.
  • Nations should develop a more adaptive, responsive, affordable and human healthcare system.

Indian Unicorns Lend A Helping Hand

Indian unicorns are coming forward to lend a helping hand to support the nation through the dark times of the pandemic.

  • SaaS unicorn Zoho Corp has set up a Small Business Emergency Subscription Assistance Program (ESAP) to help up to 20K qualified customers with less than 25 employees. Under this, the selected customers will get free access to Zoho Corp’s app stack for free for up to three months.
  • Indian ecommerce unicorn Paytm Mall has decided to prioritise the supply and delivery of essential items, which includes household staples, healthcare, hygiene, personal safety products. The platform has decided to not take any orders for non-essential items.

At the same time, even though OYO has offered its spaces as quarantine centres, the company says that the restrictions have impacted its revenues, operations and cash flows ‘significantly’. As a result, the company has told its partner hotels that there may be possible disruptions in its payment cycles.

How Are Indian Startups Ensuring Continuous Services?

  • MapMyIndia has launched the MapMyIndia Move app to allow the public to report their grievances and security lapses in enforcement related to the lockdown.
  • GoMechanic will be offering free mechanic services for all vehicles providing essential services — ambulances, police vehicles, and other  — across the metro cities it operates in.
  • Healthtech startup Dozee will be providing its contact-free heartbeat and respiration monitor for free to those quarantined within Bengaluru city limits.
  • CallHealth Services has recently set up a helpline for queries related to coronavirus. Users can now call at +9133557799 to avail a free doctor consultation.
  • upGrad, in partnership with video, voice and live streaming platform, is looking to provide live classes to all college, university, NGOs and government bodies for free.
  • Edtech startup Admission24 has announced that it will be providing free automation services to educational institutions, which will allow the latter to be operational digitally.
  • PR and communication SaaS platform Wizikey have launched a data-driven algorithm-backed news desk, which will compile all the news coming from credible news sources.

Global Players Join In To Help

  • China-based short video platform TikTok will be donating $10 Mn to help the World Health Organisation (WHO) in combating the coronavirus pandemic. A major part of the fund will be spent on ensuring communities have access to the latest science-based information and finding life-saving treatments or vaccines. Meanwhile, TikTok will be spending INR 3 Mn in feeding meals for families affected by school closures.
  • Smartwatch maker Huami Amazfit has announced the launch of a dedicated Whatsapp helpline for doctors and hospitals who need hygiene supply and high-quality masks. The Chinese company has donated N95 masks and protective suits to multiple hospitals including AIIMS New Delhi, Manipal Hospital and others.
  • Crypto exchange platform Binance Group looking to collect $5 Mn donations via cryptocurrency for its charity arm, Binance Charity. The company will be using the funds to buy medical supplies for countries by the coronavirus pandemic.

E-Passes, Telemedicine Guidelines And More

As most businesses have downed their shutters, the Indian gig economy, who survives on daily wages, is expected to be hit the hardest. To enable smooth operations here’s what government is doing:

  • Relief package of INR 170K Cr for the vulnerable section — daily wagers, farmers, migrant workers, poor from rural regions, senior citizens and women, among others. The scheme will work through direct cash transfer.
  • Daily wages of workers registered under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MNREGA) scheme have been increased.
  • INR 50 Lakh insurance cover for medical professional
  • Delhi Police and Bengaluru Police will be issuing duty passes for the delivery persons providing daily essential services and products.
  • The government issues telemedicine guidelines to allow patients from seeking doctor’s consultations online.

Delhi government also announced that it will allow establishments that provide essential items or are a part of the supply chain to be operational for 24×7. The Delhi government is hoping that this will avoid overcrowding during the day.