Businesses across India switch channels to survive, profit from the pandemic

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NEW DELHI: A Mohali-based cosmetics company is making sanitisers, a handicraft manufacturer in


is selling masks, Gurgaon-based

apparel exporters

are assembling PPE suits and a Vapi-based paper company is constructing cardboard beds for quarantine centres — several small and big businessmen have temporarily left their earlier field of work and switched to more relevant and in-demand products to survive and thrive in these Covid-19 times. Some of them even plan to export their new products.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Businessman Gautam Nair, member of Apparel Export Promotion Council’s executive committee, says over 400 Indian garment manufacturers have ventured into the

personal protective equipment

(PPE) business in the last two months. Market research company Nielsen says over 150 new players entered the hand sanitiser market in March alone.
Necessity is driving this entrepreneurial change. Among other things, Manjeet Singh Kalsi’s company was manufacturing and installing commercial lifts and elevators for the past 12 years. But in the two months after lockdown, orders dried up and business came to a standstill.
Kalsi then came up with the idea of manufacturing foot-operated, touch-free sanitiser dispensers. “We have sold about 50 dispensers and that has kept us going,” says Kalsi, whose small setup employs six people.
In distant Dimapur, an allwoman group of 35 was engaged in making traditional Naga jewellery and handicraft accessories till coronavirus caused a sharp drop in business. “We sell about 90% of our items to other states. That stopped completely. So we used our tailoring set-up to stitch masks,” says Rebecca Nemneivah Lunkim, operations head, Runway Nagaland. She adds, “We have produced over 20,000 masks since mid-April and have got bulk orders from corporates and NGOs from cities across India.”
For many proprietors the whole endeavour was aimed at keeping their staff employed and their families afloat. “We had sales worth about Rs 70 lakh a month but a huge amount of cash got stuck with distributors and stockists,” says Guneet Bansal, director, Mohali-based

RGG Cosmetics

. The company makes and sells nail-paint, eyeliners and lipstick under the brand name MOD. “We had to provide for the 80 families associated with us and that’s why we ventured into making sanitisers,” says Bansal.

Aryan Papers

, which was into paper products and cartons for packaging, started making cardboard beds that are being used in makeshift hospitals. “We have supplied over 10,000 such beds,” says Mihir Shah, director, Aryan Papers, Vapi.

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