With work from home becoming the new norm, everyone is nestled in the most comfortable spot of the house with their laptop. But for almost 450 Mn people, who survive on daily wages to run their house, the quarantine time has been no less than a personal and financial crisis.
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the much-needed 21-day-lockdown, the condition of the most vulnerable section of daily wagers — whether it’s workers at construction sites, retail outlets, restaurants, food and hyperlocal delivery partners and local transport systems — is bound to get worse. This is the right time for Indian businesses to come together to support those, who have lifted the Indian economy on their back night and day through ages, revolutions and generations.
Food delivery unicorn Zomato has taken the onus upon itself to provide help to those in need. Zomato’s non-profit arm Feeding India, which it acquired in 2019, has decided to flag off a new campaign “Feed the Daily Wager”. Under which, Zomato will distribute ration kits containing wheat flour or rice, two types of pulses and a bar of soap, which should last a family of five for one whole week.
Deepinder Goyal, founder and CEO of Zomato, said the company managed to collect INR 1.5 Cr within 17 hours in support of the initiative. Zomato is now looking to raise another INR 25 Cr for the fund.
In a series of tweets, Goyal also announced special loans for food delivery restaurant partners as well as a dedicated fund to cover up the lost earning for thousands of delivery partners
Rs 1.5cr collected in 17 hours. Thanks everybody for your generosity. Need to get to Rs 25cr to make a widespread impact. Please donate and share. https://t.co/sM8mmgpv0a#IndiaFightsCorona #21daylockdown https://t.co/38jkFUFvze
— Deepinder Goyal (@deepigoyal) March 25, 2020
Zomato has clarified that each kit will be delivered to as many as 26 cities across the country with the help of grocery delivery giant Grofers. The company has also partnered with several local non-governmental organisations (NGO) to distribute the kits while proactively following all health norms to ensure minimum exposure to the virus.
Besides this, Zomato has also reached out to its customers once again. Those interested in contributing to the initiative can do so through its website. The food delivery unicorn also specified that it costs INR 500 to feed a family for five for a week. Zomato added that it will be releasing a transparency report, highlighting the details of the utilisation of the fund.
During Cyclone Fani in May 2019, which affected Odisha, Zomato had launched a similar campaign. Under this, users could buy meals at a subsidised rate — INR 50 for one, INR 500 for 10 and INR 5000 for 100 — for those affected in the cyclone. Besides this, Zomato also called for donations of other essentials like utensils, toiletries, food items, and others.
Startup Ecosystem Supporting Gig Workers
Besides Zomato, social impact investment firm Omidyar Network, on March 24, announced a rapid response fund of INR 7.5 Cr ($1 Mn) for tech proposals that are looking to support the vulnerable sections through and beyond the coronavirus pandemic. The firm is looking for NGOs, research organisations, social entrepreneurs, and other for-profit businesses to come together and send their solutions to help the sections.
Omidyar Network is looking for solutions that will strengthen the containment, detection, and treatment of the pandemic. In addition, it will also facilitate the development of stronger crisis management capabilities, resilience, and recovery systems. The social impact investment firm has decided to invest an average ticket size of INR 5 Lakh to INR 2 Cr. Interested parties can send their proposals to [email protected] with the subject line “Next Half Billion – Covid19 related proposal”.
Besides this, global diversified metal and mining company Vedanta Resources’ has set aside an INR 100 Cr fund to help the daily wagers and contract workers of the mining industry. The company’s chairman Anil Agarwal has also assured that it will also increase the corpus if needed.
Meanwhile, other companies in the Indian startup ecosystem had also stepped up to help their employees working from the ground amid the coronavirus pandemic. Whether it was Grofers, Swiggy, Uber, Ola, Flipkart or BigBasket, or companies of this like, had pledged to financially support their delivery partners/driver-partners and other employees, who was sick during the coronavirus pandemic.
Besides this, the Indian startup community has now joined in to look for other solutions to effectively deal with the situation. While Paytm’s founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma has decided to invest INR 5 Cr in initiatives looking to find solutions for problems arising out of coronavirus pandemic, AngelList is also looking to invest INR 5 Lakh in such solutions.