The Covid-19 pandemic has created unprecedented upheaval at all levels of society. Rarely has a situation called for a unified war cry and the need for collective effort, as the one humanity is faced with now. And even in this, the impact of the pandemic is borne most by those who can least afford it. Micro- entrepreneurs who form 95% of all entrepreneurs in India face mass extinction and need dedicated attention to help them through this calamity. 

Clearly, there is intent amongst all of us to do our bit. And yet, nothing less than a coming together of a large coalition with a shared purpose to support the recovery of small businesses can lead to a mass resurrection. Over the last few weeks, we have spoken to over a hundred partners, gathering substantive data on the reality-ground up. Our partners have helped us identify critical areas to build on as a coalition for small businesses. 

Liquidity, Supporting the Survival of Mass Entrepreneurs, Enabling New Markets and Evangelising Mass Entrepreneurs are the pillars to build the architecture of small business recovery- a new world emerging from the COVID-19 ashes. 

GAME, is above everything else, an alliance and it is with that lens- not to lead, not to follow but truly collaborate towards a cause, that is larger than any of us, that we have begun a sprint for small business survival. 

We have taken the initiative to build around some early thoughts that have emerged from our early conversations and identified specific areas we would love to have you collaborate on. Read More

Stay Well, Stay Safe
M. Srinivas Rao

CEO, GAME (Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship)

GAME Alliance Support Network: Addressing COVID Impact on nano/micro entrepreneurs

In the context of the COVID crisis, GAME has been conducting a webinar series which brings together various partners to share challenges and discuss various solutions. This has been helping to provide an ear to the ground and develop relevant solutions.


Conducted on 23rd March 2020, this session brought together Dr Rajeshwari from AWAKE, Smita Bhatnagar and Rehana Riyawala from SEWA and Aarti Mohan from Sattva Consulting, a think tank and research organization.

Some of the themes explored included-:

  • Production & Transportation
  • Finance
  • Employment / Labor
  • New Market Opportunities.

Production & Transportation:

Some of the affected sectors include food processing, the handicraft sector and the garment industry. The problems identified include the inability to transport raw materials because of the lockdown. This has hampered production which can possibly cause reverse migration of the entrepreneurs to their villages, a place where earning opportunities are lesser. Some of the solutions to address this problem include a public distribution system to strengthen supply and awareness of the availability of the facilities.


There is immense pressure as the financial year comes to a close and returns need to be filed. In the gig economy, entrepreneurs are strapped for cash and in the agriculture sector monthly debt repayments are a huge issue. Moreover, there is no announcement by the NBFCs to relax the repayment of the loans. Some possible solutions could be that the government make relaxations on the cash credit system and bankers relax the financial norms on providing loans. The EMI and payback system needs to be established in the SME sector. The government has recently extended the date for tax filing to June which will help the entrepreneurs

Employment / Labor:

Employees are scared to go to work but at the same time don’t want to stop working as they might not receive salaries. Migration to the villages may cause problems as the resources are scarce.

Market Opportunities:

Based on the need of the hour, the relevant market opportunities need to be capitalized on. Demand for some products to tackle Covid include masks, sanitisers, cleaning agents, aprons and food for the patients, if possible. The ask is for the government to come up with a monetary benefit for these industries.


Conducted on the 24th of March, 2020 this session brought together Anshu Gupta (Goonj) Alay Barah (ICCO) and Parikrama (Syngenta). Some of the themes explored included the impact on agriculture, rural entrepreneurs, rural migrants and how to leverage demand and avoid misinformation.

Some of the themes explored included:

  • Agriculture
  • Rural Entrepreneurs
  • Rural Migrants
  • New Market Opportunities
  • Awareness


With the lockdown and harvest season approaching, this can lead to crop wastage. Lack of crops will affect the mid-day meal plans and nutritional aspects offered by it.

Rural Entrepreneurs:

Production and sale for dairy farmers has been impacted because of the lockdown. MFIs are requesting for repayment of loans which the rural entrepreneurs are unable to provide. The possible solutions observed include

  • Leverage on existing infrastructure to provide a common delivery channel for products
  • Government relief packages that are necessary for rural entrepreneurs to survive
  • The government could possibly delay the repayment schedule to provide entrepreneurs time to pay their loans

Rural Migrants:

The lockdown has caused a stoppage in the daily wage and they might not have enough rations for them and their families. Domestic abuse is high because of the inability to move out. Some possible solutions that were identified include:

  • Providing wages even if the workers are not coming to work 
  • Contributing money to enable these migrants to buy rations 
  • A need to look at rehabilitation efforts

New Market Opportunities:

There is a market opportunity to develop a business of products needed to tackle coronavirus eg: masks, hand sanitizers, etc. There is a need to build a value chain so that entrepreneurs can access new business opportunities


Solo and lower end entrepreneurs are lost because of misinformation. They cannot distinguish between genuine and fabricated information. The organizations felt that there is a need to have more conversations to answer pressing queries. One of the organizations, Goonj is doing a Facebook series to bring together entrepreneurs and answer their pressing questions.


Conducted on the 25th of March 2020, this was attended by Kritika (Udhyam Learning Foundation), Uttara Narayanan (Buzz Women), Ashutosh (Jagriti Yatra). 

Some of the themes explored included

  • Awareness
  • Financial Issues
  • New Market Opportunities


The lack of awareness is causing panic and this is impacting the entrepreneur’s family and business. The organisations are conducting awareness campaigns to provide accurate information on the virus and some precautionary measures as recommended by WHO. Some channels used to communicate this information include audio recordings for easy comprehension and Whats app forwards wherever Whats app is available. Communication has been identified as key to keeping the entrepreneurs aware, engaged and to improve their morale.

Financial issues: 

Liquidity has been identified to be a huge issue as solopreneurs are not very adept on savings. They fear being harassed by money lenders. Some of the possible solutions to address this challenge have been identified as

  • Financial Literacy:This is key so that there is awareness of the facilities available. 
  • Direct cash transfers: 90% entrepreneurs have bank accounts because of Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana so cash transfers are possible
  • Government needs to provide a mechanism for direct cash transfers
  • Relaxation on bill payments: Government advocacy is needed for this. 
  • Announcements on financial schemes need to be made by the government:  In Kerala, the announcement of direct transfer directly helped to improve morale 
  • Social security needs to be improved and a longer moratorium is needed 

New Market opportunities:

There is a fear that entrepreneurs may not be able to sustain their current business. There is a need to create a new system for new job opportunities. Some products that could be looked at as businesses are ones that help to tackle the Coronavirus like hand sanitisers, masks etc.


Conducted on the 27th of March 2020, this session was attended by Arun Sivakrishnan (Livelihood Consultant at CMS); Lizann Fernandez( Business Operations Lead, SETU); Anirban( Co-Founder, Dhritti). 

Some of the themes explored include

  • Ground Reality
  • Immediate actions required
    • Sale of goods
    • Boosting small scale developers
    • Farmer producer organisations (FPO)
    • Psychological needs of entrepreneurs
  • The definition of collaboration

Ground Reality:

  • Mass Panic and fear: The lack of transportation has disrupted movement and therefore the sale of goods. As a result, the owner is unable to pay his employees. Entrepreneurs are seeking for answers like how long will this lockdown last, what should they do etc
  • New business opportunities: There is a market for a number of products which reduce offline dependency. A lot of existing businesses, in this situation, can use an online approach. The engagement will be high but monetization may be low.

Immediate actions required:

  • Sale of goods: 
    • Since there is a limited shelf life, sell the current inventory to make quick revenue. Do not wait for the circumstances to change.
    • Sell the inventory at a lower price and make sure the cost cuttings are in place. The objective is to sustain in the current conditions 
    • Localise the business, product and services to serve local needs. This will help to sell the products quickly.
    • Diversify into new products: There is a need for R & D and support from experts
  • Boosting small scale developers: 
    • Support by building tools and providing access to tools already available like, AWS and postman collections.
    • The government needs to provide clear monetisation pathways to help developers build new software.
      • Either by becoming the buyer themselves
      • Or through stimulus packages; extending deadlines can only do so much
    • Connect buyers and these developers to build the right online solutions. They should be based on the psychologies of individuals 

  • Farmer producer organisations (FPO): Some immediate action includes:
    • Helping FPOs understand directives by the government 
    • Simplifying what the regulation says.
    • Helping negotiate with financial institutions and restructure loans.
    • Helping with existing orders in the absence of logistics.
    • Helping procurement and central warehouse restart  their navigating space.
    • Guidance on handling current deliverables
    • Advisory how to go on if lockdown resumes

  • Psychological needs of entrepreneurs:
    • Focus on the mental health of the entrepreneurs
    • There needs to be constant engagement otherwise the entrepreneur will retreat to his/her shell

3. The definition of collaboration:

  • A forum to voice the entrepreneur: 
    • A webinar to engage entrepreneurs on the ground to give a sense of perspective and after the lockdown has ended.
    • A hotline for the entrepreneur to voice their issues and seek solutions

  • Build a connection between developers and entrepreneurs: 
    • Form tech solutions directly based on the issues of the entrepreneur  
    • The exchange of information is important for building solutions and should be relevant within the entrepreneur’s worldview. This helps to build digital marketplaces for new-age entrepreneurs.

  • Exchange of services: 
    • Build a database of services provided by different entrepreneurs to enable exchange of services based on individual needs 
    • This enables a cost- effective way to implement business operations 

These conversations with the alliance along with secondary research has helped GAME to build a document which addresses the challenges faced by entrepreneurs and the possible solutions. This document can be accessed here

Facebook announces $100 million program for small businesses impacted by coronavirus
  • Facebook announced a new $100 million program to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19. 
  • Facebook said the grants will be available for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries. That would be an average of $3,333 per business.
YourStory COVID-19 Resource Centre for Startups and SMBs

Amidst the growing uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, YourStory is committed to doing their best to equip their community of startups, small and medium businesses and ecosystem stakeholders with all the information, resources, and support needed to steer their businesses through these challenging times and prepare for worsening conditions.

With this in mind, the YourStory COVID-19 Resource Centre for Startups and SMBs brings together a comprehensive set of information from experts in various fields on how businesses can operate as effectively as possible amidst escalating COVID-19 (coronavirus) fears. Through the Resource Centre, YourStory aims to connect startups and small and medium businesses with experts who can provide much-needed advice and tips on navigating their firms through these tough times, while ensuring the health and safety of their employees.

Tata Trust commits 500 crores to protect and empower affected communities
Goonj discusses the unfolding crisis across India due to Covid 19

On 29th March, Anshu Gupta ( Founder and Director, Goonj) conducted a Facebook Live session to discuss the impact of the Coronavirus epidemic in the remote areas and things we must do immediately and in the long term. Some of the initiatives included:

  • Build an ecosystem of trust with each other
  • Find local solutions and help those in need
  • Collaborate with the best institutions to help the migrants
Webinar by ANDE: Supporting SGBs through COVID-19

The current state of uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic means we are all thinking seriously about short and long-term health and economic impacts. The disruption to the small and growing business (SGB) sector specifically will be extreme, as these businesses and the people they serve are already among the most vulnerable. This March 30, 2020 webinar featured ANDE members sharing the measures they are taking to support their portfolio companies and answering  Q&A. 

This was facilitated by Jenny Everett ( Managing Director;  Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE)) and the panelists included  Juan Carlos Thomas S. ( Global Entrepreneurship Director; TechnoServe), Srinivas Ramanujam ( Practice Lead-Agribusiness & COO ; Villgro) and Robert Webster (Chief Operating Officer; SEAF).

Impact of Covid on the Indian economy by FICCI

Covid- 19 Briefing Note: Global Health and Crisis response by McKinsey and Company

Covid 19: Impact on the Industry and the Economy Impact On Industry And The Economy Actions Needed To Sustain Continuity: A report by CII
Finance Minister announces Rs 1.70 Lakh Crore relief package under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana for the poor to help them fight the battle against Corona Virus

Finance Minister announces several relief measures relating to Statutory and Regulatory compliance matters across Sectors in view of COVID-19 outbreak

Government approves insurance scheme for health workers fighting COVID-19

Covid 19 regulatory package by RBI

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