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BENGALURU : Amazon.com Inc. has sharpened its focus on India’s small and medium businesses (SMBs), introducing a $250 million Smbhav Venture Fund, focusing on digitization of small businesses; agri-tech innovations to raise farmer productivity; and health tech for quality universal healthcare.

Speaking on the first day of Amazon Smbhav Summit, Andrew Jassy, who takes over as chief executive officer at Amazon Inc. later this year, described SMBs as the “engine and the lifeblood of economies", including in India. “We are very passionate about trying to enable acceleration of small, medium sized businesses in fuelling innovation and the economy in India. Through the Smbhav Venture Fund, we are going to help inspire more SMEs to be able to build brand new businesses," Jassy said, in his first public comments about the Indian market as Amazon’s incoming CEO.

“The launch of Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund aims to attract the best ideas and empower entrepreneurs in the country to partner in this vision. Additionally, our initiatives to onboard 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," said Amit Agarwal, global senior vice-president and country head of Amazon India.

The Smbhav Summit is a four-day event held by the online retailer for small and medium enterprises in India. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos had attended the last summit, where he pledged to export $10 billion ‘Make in India’ goods by 2025. Amazon also plans to digitize close to 10 million small enterprises.

On Thursday, Agarwal said the company will sign up 1 million offline retailers and neighbourhood stores by 2025 through its ‘Local Shops’ programme, aimed to help local stores gain an online foothold. The e-commerce company also introduced ‘Spotlight North East’, an initiative to bring technology tools and customers to local women and tribal communities in India’s North-East. The company looks to benefit 50,000 weavers, artisans from tribal communities, local small businesses, including offline neighbourhood stores across the region by 2025. Amazon said it created close to 300,000 jobs since January 2020 and one million in total.

Amazon claims to have close to 70,000 sellers on its platform, exporting Indian goods to foreign markets, enabling $3 billion in global sales from the country. “I just find it remarkable that in the seven years since we’ve launched Amazon.in, we have been able to help digitize 2.5 million SMEs, enabled $3 billion in exports, while creating a million jobs. And there is so much more to do," Jassy added.

As a part of its first investment through ‘Smbhav’ fund, Amazon invested in Gurugram-based M1xchange which connects SMEs with banks and financiers.

In February, Jassy was appointed CEO, after founder Bezos said he will move to the position of executive chair.

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