We have seen the need for smartphones rise in this period: Muralikrishnan B, Xiaomi India

The Chief Operating Officer talks about the brand's commitment to support the underprivileged and bridge the digital divide

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Aug 25, 2020 8:33 AM

Brands in the smartphone and electronics category have had to battle various adversities through the past couple of months: from the Covid-led lockdowns to the anti-China sentiments affecting business. However shining through it all, Xiaomi remained the market leader with 44% market share. Moreover, Mi India, along with its network of distributors and retail partners, has announced to pledge 2500 new smartphones worth Rs 2 crores to children from communities that are worst affected by the pandemic. With its latest campaign and initiative, the company now aims to bridge the digital divide. In conversation with exchange4media, Muralikrishnan B, Chief Operating Officer, Xiaomi India, speaks of how the brand's commitment to support the underprivileged ties back to Xiaomi’s story in India, the company’s plans to eliminate the digital divide through the campaign.
For this initiative, the brand has partnered with ‘Teach for India’ (TFI) to ensure that children who need access to technology receive these smartphones and are able to successfully continue their education through online classes.
“Due to the ongoing pandemic, schools and colleges have been shut, and thousands of students have been unable to attend online classes due to lack of access to technology. Through this initiative, we hope to use our strong retail network and partnership with TFI to ensure that the power of online learning reaches these students,” Muralikrishnan remarks.
The brand’s commitment to support the underprivileged ties back to Xiaomi’s story in India. The COO contends that the partnership with Teach for India is in continuation of other initiatives that were undertaken during the pandemic lockdown. “Xiaomi’s very own partners and retail network have come together and helped over 2 lakh families affected by the lockdown. In the recent past, we also pledged over Rs 15 crores towards India’s battle against Covid-19. We also partnered with Give India to make hygiene kits available to 20,000 families. Our partners also provided support for over 10,000 families that were impacted by Cyclone Amphan besides actively supporting the needy. We have had one core philosophy since the beginning, ‘make innovation available to everyone’ and our collaboration with TFI exactly ties into this. Our story in India over the last six years involves our efforts in making changes across multiple facets like the environment, education for children, natural calamity relief measures among many others,” he opens up.
Moreover, Muralikrishnan states that the brand’s strong retail presence and retail network is a plus and will further ensure the smooth execution of the initiative.
“Our overall retail presence is extremely strong in India. Our Mi Stores itself are present across 790+ cities, providing highly accessible yet exceptional brand experience to our customers across the nation. These stores serve as a prime example of Mi’s innovative retail concept, marrying the brand’s e-commerce efficiency with engaging retail user experience.
This strong presence of this network and partnership with Teach for India, will ensure the fulfilment of this initiative. In the past too, our retailers have come together to contribute to multiple causes,” he shares.
Furthermore, Muralikrishnan contends that since the dynamics of education have changed with the current situation, access to a smartphone or a laptop has become an essential to continue access to education and schooling, something which prompted the company to take up the said cause. “We as a technology brand have seen the need for smartphones rise within this period, especially for children to continue their education. Therefore we sought to make available their biggest need at the moment in order to ensure that there is no disruption in their access to education through our devices. Our partnership with Teach For India thus aims to bridge the digital divide and break boundaries for kids learning-at-home,” he reveals.
The company also shared the one-year journey 'Make in India' initiative. Muralikrishnan shares that by ensuring that everything is done locally the company had been able to reduce lead time and working capital cost.
“We embarked on this journey to improve our supply chain and get closer to our consumers in India. Today, we have seven smartphone plants and manufacture 99 per cent of the smartphones locally, with 65 per cent of the value of the smartphone being locally sourced. Xiaomi India also has a smart TV manufacturing plant in partnership with Dixon Technologies in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, where over 85 per cent of our Mi TVs sold in India are made. We also locally manufacture our power banks.
We have always aimed at transforming India into a global manufacturing hub in line with the Make in India initiative and have also generated employment for over 50,000 individuals overall. Looking back, it feels great seeing the things we have been able to achieve with the support of our Mi Fans and consumers. We will continue to celebrate our milestones and strive to keep ourselves grounded to where we are,” he asserts.

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