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Amazon sets up $250 million fund for small, medium businesses in India

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E-commerce biggie Amazon has announced a $250 million (about Rs 1,873 crore) fund that will focus on digitising small and medium businesses, and driving innovation in the areas of agri-tech and health-tech in India.

The fund was announced in the opening session of Amazon India’s flagship event Smbhav, where Andy Jassy, AWS CEO and incoming CEO of Amazon, and Amit Agarwal, Global Senior VP and Country Head, Amazon India also reiterated the company's long-term commitment towards an Aatmanirbhar Bharat.

Further, Amazon announced plans to digitally empower and bring 1 million offline retailers and neighbourhood stores online, on the Amazon India marketplace, by 2025 through the ‘Local Shops on Amazon’ programme.

Amazon's announcement interestingly comes amidst reports of it facing the heat from government's draft policy on foreign e-commerce players.

Amazon's commitment to India

It may be recalled that in January 2020, Amazon chief Jeff Bezos announced an investment of $1 billion at the maiden edition of Amazon Smbhav event to digitally enable 10 million Micro, Small and Medium enterprises (MSMEs), enable e-commerce exports worth  $10 billion and create one million additional jobs in India by 2025.

Early this year, Amazon said more than 2.5 lakh new sellers have joined Amazon since the announcement by Bezos. The company said it had enabled more than $3 billion in exports through its Global Selling programme and created a total of one million jobs.

Amit Agarwal said at the summit yesterday, “The launch of Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund aims to attract best ideas and empower entrepreneurs in the country to partner in this vision. Additionally, our initiatives to on-board 1 million offline shops on Amazon.in and digitally empower the North East region will accelerate the progress towards a digital and self-reliant India.”

What will Amazon's Venture Fund do?

The Venture Fund will independently invest in startups, building solutions to empower SMBs to launch, manage, and grow their business online, automate and digitize their operations, and expand their business globally by exporting to customers worldwide. 

Two additional focus areas will be agriculture and healthcare. In the agri-tech sector, the Venture Fund aims to invest in Indian startups that are using technology to bring the best produce to consumers. 

In the healthcare sector, the Venture Fund aims to invest in Indian startups that are using technology for doctor assistance, telemedicine, e-diagnosis, AI powered treatment recommendations or digitizing operations of healthcare providers.

Amazon has also announced an investment in “M1xchange”– a startup focusing on invoice discounting marketplace exchange for MSMEs (Micro Small and Medium Enterprises) established under the TReDS license (Trade Receivables Discounting System license). 

The company also launched ‘Spotlight NorthEast’, an initiative to boost the local economy, create jobs and accelerate financial inclusion and empowerment of women and tribal communities across the region.

Additionally, with its ecommerce exports program, Amazon Global Selling, the company will help boost exports of special agri-commodities from North East like tea, honey, and spices etc.

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Balakumar K
Balakumar K

Over three decades as a journalist covering current affairs, politics, sports and now technology. Former Editor of News Today, writer of humour columns across publications and a hardcore cricket and cinema enthusiast. He writes about technology trends and suggest movies and shows to watch on OTT platforms.