Amazon.com Inc Founder and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos said on Wednesday that his company would invest an additional $1 billion (about Rs 7,000 crore) to help bring small businesses online in India, and also committed to using the retail giant’s “size, scope and scale” to export $10 billion of made-in-India goods by 2025.
Bezos’ India visit — for the maiden edition of his firm’s micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME)-focussed event, Amazon Smbhav — comes at a time when the Competition Commission of India (CCI) is probing his company, as well as Walmart-owned Flipkart, on complaints of deep discounting practices and tie-ups with preferred sellers.
Seeking to reach out to critics, Bezos, donning traditional Indian attire, said his company was committed to being a long-term partner of India.
“Actions speak louder than words,” he added, addressing a packed house in New Delhi.
“We’re making this announcement now because it’s working...When something works, you should double down on it.
I want to make a prediction for you. I predict that the 21st century is going to be the Indian century. The dynamism, the energy… everywhere I go here, I meet people who are working in self-improvement and growth. This country has something special, democracy,” he said.
“I make one more prediction for you: In this 21st century, the most important alliance is going to be the alliance between India and the US,” Bezos added. The firm aims to digitise 10 million MSMEs with the proposed investment. In addition to providing training and enrolling MSMEs into its programmes, Amazon will help them work on cloud technology through specialised Amazon Web Services offerings at low costs. It will also establish 100 “digital haats’ in cities and villages throughout India.
Amazon has invested $5 billion in India in the past five years. The e-commerce platform also announced plans to support local neighbourhood shops and kiranas. It will expand its Amazon Easy programme. The kirana shops will be able to set up kiosks to provide assistance to customers in choosing the right product, placing an order and earning commission on sales. It also plans to expand its ‘I Have Space’ programme.