Amazon to invest $1 bn to aid Indian SMEs for going digital

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Wednesday announced the e-commerce major will invest $1 billion to help Indian SMEs for going digital.
Amazon e-commerce productAmazon’s investment will assist local entrepreneurs to step up their digital presence and broaden market opportunities.

Amazon said it will setup digital centers in 100 Indian cities and villages to help businesses get online to sell their goods and will offer support in marketing and logistics.

The investment of $1 billion will help bring more than 10 million Indian businesses online and enable exports of India-made goods worth $10 billion by 2025.

Jeff Bezos, on a visit to India, said at an event: “21st century will be Indian century and the biggest alliance between India and the US.”

However, Jeff Bezos did not mention any timeline for this investment. The company has so far invested $5.5 billion in the country.

Jeff Bezos’ three-day visit to India is marked with protests from sellers on its platform, which have complained about Amazon’s anti-competitive pricing practices. India’s competition regulator has opened a probe into Amazon’s selling practices, following the complaints from traders.

The Confederation of All India Traders, a group representing roughly 70 million brick-and-mortar retailers, has said it will protest in 300 cities during Bezos’ visit.

But protests so far have been small. At one in New Delhi and another in the eastern state of Odisha on Wednesday, there were about 50 demonstrators each.

“We are not able to compete. There is an unhealthy competition,” said Girish Prasad Ratha, a demonstrator who said he had lost 15 percent of his sales in the last two years because customers were increasingly going online.

India’s e-commerce market revenues are set to touch $120 billion this year, having grown 51 percent annually between 2017 and 2020, according to a study by the CCI.

Jeff Bezos sought to assure the protesting sellers, by saying that Amazon will help take their goods to global customers. The company will help export $10 billion worth of goods made by Indian SMEs by 2025, he said.

Amazon is allowing small Indian manufacturers to sell their goods across 12 marketplaces in the world. The company has generated $1 billion through cumulative exports under its Global Selling programme and it expects the amount to hit $5 billion mark by 2023.

“Through the Amazon Global Selling program, we have had the opportunity to assist 50,000 MSMEs across India to showcase over 150 million products to customers in more than 180 countries,” Abhijit Kamra, Director- Global Trade at Amazon India had earlier said.

Trader bodies across India are observing National Protest Day on January 15 to boycott the visit of Jeff Bezos. CAIT in association with All India Mobile Retailers Association, All India Consumer Products Distributors Federation are among the trade bodies to participate in the protest.

This week, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) launched an anti-trust probe against Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart to look into allegations.

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