Industry

Amazon to invest $1 billion to digitise small and medium businesses in India

Jeff Bezos speaking at the Amazon SMBhav summit which aims at focusing discussions around how technology adoption can enable small and medium businesses (SMBs) in India.

Jeff Bezos speaking at the Amazon SMBhav summit which aims at focusing discussions around how technology adoption can enable small and medium businesses (SMBs) in India.   | Photo Credit: Yuthika Bhargava

Additionally, the e-commerce major would like to leverage its size and scale to export USD 10 billion worth of ‘Make in India’ goods by 2025.

E-commerce giant Amazon will invest USD one billion in India over the next five years to help digitise small and medium businesses in the country, its Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced on Wednesday.

Mr. Bezos, who is in India this week, added that the new investments will also help the company enable cumulative exports of USD 10 billion worth “make in India” goods by 2025 via its platform.

“We’re committed to being a long-term partner of India...Over the next five years, Amazon will invest an incremental USD 1 billion to digitize micro and small businesses in cities, towns, and villages across India, helping them reach more customers than ever before... as a part of this [initiative], we are going to use Amazon's size, scope and scale... our global footprint to export outside India USD 10 billion of ‘make in India’ goods by 2025. So we are super excited about this,” Mr Bezos said.

He was speaking at the company’s two-day ‘Smbhav’ event for small and medium businesses that kicked off on Wednesday in the national capital. Mr. Bezos last visited India in 2014, when he had announced an investment of USD 2 billion in the country. Later in 2016, he committed an investment of USD 3 billion in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, taking the total investment committed to India to USD 5 billion.

“We are making this announcement now because it is working. We have been doing this... When something works you should double down on it. And that is why we are doing it,” he added.

With the USD 1 billion, the company aims to bring more than 10 million Indian businesses online by 2025. “The company will establish 100 Digital Haats to inspire, support, and onboard Indian businesses of all sizes into the digital economy

Currently, over 550,000 Indian businesses are selling on the Amazon marketplace and over 60,000 sellers are exporting their “make in India” products worldwide.

‘21st century belongs to India’

In a fireside chat Amit Agarwal, Senior Vice President and Country Head, Amazon India, Mr .Bezos said that the 21st century will belong to India. “I want to make a prediction for India. I predict that the 21st century is going to be the Indian century. The dynamism, energy... Everywhere I go there are people interested in self improvement, in growth. This country has something special and it's a democracy. This is going to be the Indian century.”

He further added that in the 21st century, the most important alliance is going to be the alliance between India and the US -- the world's oldest democracy and the world's largest democracy.

Asked what would he be, in case his bet on Amazon hadn’t worked out, Mr. Bezos said, “extremely happy software programmer somewhere."

Trader Protests

Mr. Bezos visit to India has been marred by controversy due various protests planned by Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT). The visit also follows India’s competition watchdog CCI initiating a probe against Amazon as well as Walmart-owned Flipkart over their discounting practices and exclusive brand launches.

In a press statement, CAIT said that “strong protests” were carried across 300 cities in the county by about 5 lakh traders against Amazon chief Jeff Bezos. It alleged that the current model of Amazon and Flipkart involving predatory pricing and deep discounting has created distortionary effects by driving out the traders from the market.

Mr. Bezos is on a three-day India visit starting from Wednesday. Earlier in morning, Mr. Bezos paid homage to Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 11:31:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/amazon-to-invest-1-billion-to-digitise-small-and-medium-businesses-in-india/article30572553.ece

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