Amazon has announced that it plans to invest $1 billion to help “digitally enable” micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and traders across India. The ecommerce major aims to digitise 10 million MSMEs with this investment, enabling $10 billion in cumulative exports by 2025 – bolstering PM Modi’s poster Make in India initiative. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who is in India this week, made the announcement during the company’s inaugural Amazon SMBhav Summit in the National Capital on Wednesday.
“We’re committed to being a long-term partner of India. And actions speak louder than words,” Bezos said in a statement. “Over the next five years, Amazon will invest an incremental $1 billion to digitise micro and small businesses in cities, towns, and villages across India, helping them reach more customers than ever before. This initiative will use Amazon’s global footprint to create $10 billion in India exports by 2025. Our hope is that this investment will bring millions more people into the future prosperity of India and at the same time expose the world to the ‘Make in India’ products that represent India’s rich, diverse culture.”
More than 550,000 Indian businesses are already selling on the Amazon marketplace with over 60,000 sellers exporting their “Make in India” products worldwide. “In the 21st century, the most important alliance is going to be between India and the US, the world's oldest and largest democracy,” Bezos said “predicting” that “the 21st century is going to be the Indian century.”
As part of its fresh investment, Amazon plans to establish “Digital Haats” in 100 cities, villages, and communities across India “to help businesses integrate into the digital economy.” These Digital Haats will provide services like e-commerce onboarding, imaging and cataloging, warehouse space, logistics, digital marketing, and compliance. An interesting bit about these Digital Haats will be that MSMEs will be able to access them even if they’re not associated with Amazon.
Additionally, Amazon also plans to expand its Amazon Easy and “I Have Space” programs to provide additional income opportunities to local neighborhood shops and kiranas.
Bezos’ India visit, and the subsequent announcements come at a time when the country’s antitrust body, aka the Competition Commission of India, has ordered an investigation into alleged violations of competition laws by Amazon as well as rival platform, Walmart-owned Flipkart. The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has meanwhile already said that it will protest across 300 cities during Bezos’ stay here. Bezos is expected to meet top government officials and business leaders during his India visit, wherein he may discuss these issues.