With a $250 mn fund, Amazon rolls out initiatives to support startups, small businesses

With a $250 mn fund, Amazon rolls out initiatives to support startups, small businesses
(From left) Global SVP and country head Amit Agarwal, and incoming CEO Andy Jassy  |  Photo Credit: Amazon
15 Apr, 2021

Ecommerce giant Amazon’s incoming CEO Andy Jassy and country head Amit Agarwal on Thursday announced several new initiatives for Indian small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and startups. 

The firm launched a $250 million fund, dubbed Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund, to support startups digitising SMBs and in the healthcare and agritech space. It also announced the Spotlight Northeast programme, which aims to promote regional handicrafts and products. 

The Amazon Sambhav Venture Fund will invest in technology-led innovation in agriculture to improve farmer productivity, and distribute credit and insurance to farmers. It will also back startups that leverage technology to improve healthcare systems and digitise operations of healthcare providers.  

The company also made its first investment from the fund. It backed M1xchange, a startup that focuses on invoice discounting marketplace exchange for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), established under the Trade Receivables Discounting System (TReDS) license. The startup connects MSMEs with banks and financiers -- and vice versa -- through the marketplace exchange.  

Additionally, Amazon announced plans to bring 1 million offline retailers and neighbourhood stores online by 2025. It aims to include over 5,000 unique crafts, Geographical Indication (GI) and other local products to its India marketplace. 

The new initiatives were announced during a fireside chat between Andy Jassy, AWS CEO and incoming CEO of Amazon, and Amit Agarwal, global senior vice president and country head, Amazon India, at Amazon Smbhav. 

“In 2020, we pledged to digitise 10 million SMBs, enable $10 billion in exports, and create 1 million jobs by 2025... 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 Northeast region will accelerate the progress towards a digital and self-reliant India,” Agarwal said at the second edition of the event

Amazon is also partnering with government organisations, including The Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) and North East Handicrafts & Handlooms Corporation (NEHHDC), to engage, skill and digitally enable artisan and weaver communities across the region.   

Read: Indian traders launch ‘Asmbhav’ Summit to protest against global etailers 

Additionally, with its ecommerce exports programme, Amazon Global Selling, the company will help boost exports of special agri-commodities, such as tea, honey and spices, from Northeast regions to Amazon customers worldwide.