“Flipkart Samarth is a driving force for the Atmanirbhar Bharat vision” – Q&A with Rajneesh Kumar

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Rajneesh Kumar, Senior Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at the Flipkart Group, reiterates the vision behind Flipkart Samarth as the program celebrates its first anniversary

Rajneesh Kumar Q&A Flipkart Samarth Anniversary

On July 31, 2019, the Flipkart Samarth program was launched with a vision to uplift and embrace India’s under-served artisans, weavers and micro-enterprises into the e-commerce fold. One year into its momentous journey, the program supports over 600,000 livelihoods across the country and has inked seven MoUs with various state governments and livelihood missions.

Rajneesh Kumar, Senior Vice President and Head of Corporate Affairs at the Flipkart Group, reflects on the story so far and the road ahead for Flipkart Samarth.

Excerpts from a Q&A:

How do you assess the impact of Flipkart Samarth on its first anniversary?

The past year has been a decisive and eventful one for Flipkart Samarth. We launched the program last July with the goal of helping traditionally under-served communities access a pan-India market and engage with over 200 million customers on Flipkart’s e-commerce marketplace platform. The program has a special focus on women and rural entrepreneurs, differently-abled entrepreneurs, artisans and weavers, who often face obstacles such as access to working capital, poor infrastructure, and inadequate training to adapt to digital platforms. Our intent was to help ease their entry into e-commerce and empower them to utilize the benefits of technology and such platforms in driving change and bringing local products and handicrafts online. In the past twelve months, we have forged several meaningful partnerships with various stakeholders, including many state governments. I am happy to share that we are well on the road to realizing our vision and contribute to inclusive economic growth.

How have under-served entrepreneurs in the country responded to this initiative from Flipkart?

As a homegrown company, at Flipkart we are innovating constantly to find new ways to use e-commerce to uplift and empower all sections of society, especially MSMEs. These small businesses are the backbone of the Indian economy, and their contribution dates back centuries. Not only are they the second-largest employment-generating sector in India after agriculture, providing employment to around 120 million people, they also play a key role in leading India to becoming a $5 trillion economy. Flipkart Samarth has been playing a significant role in building capabilities within the rural and under-served society of the country and is today supporting the livelihoods of over 6 lakh artisans, weavers, handicraft-makers and micro-enterprises across India, by giving them pan-India market access.

What support has Flipkart Samarth received from governments and policy-makers?

We are honoured by the tremendous support from the Central and state governments, who have come on board in driving this impact. In the first year of Samarth, we have signed seven MoUs. The governments of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Punjab and Karnataka have partnered with Flipkart under our Samarth initiative. In addition, we have also signed MoUs with the Uttar Pradesh Khadi & Village Industries Board (UPKVIB) and the Gujarat State Handloom and Handicrafts Development Corporation Ltd. to bring local artisans and handicrafts from these states onto Flipkart’s marketplace. Further, we have signed an MoU with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to collaborate with state missions under the DAY-NULM to set-up the Samarth program in 22 states in India. We’re happy to support the inclusive growth vision of the government and continue to create shared value in the country.

What does the road ahead look like for Flipkart Samarth?

In these extraordinary circumstances imposed upon us by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have learned to evolve in innovative new ways, sparing no effort to bring Bharat in touch with India. As we look ahead, I am excited about the scale of inclusive growth this program will drive. Encouraged by the response to Samarth over the past year, we have added a host of added benefits for our partners to provide sustained support. Flipkart Samarth will lead to empowered communities and increasingly bring these communities into the formal economy, making it a driving force for the Atmanirbhar Bharat vision of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.

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