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Amazon launches $250 million venture fund to digitise startups, SMBs in India

Amazon India also announced its plans of digitising one million offline retailers and neighbourhood stores online, on the Amazon India marketplace by 2025 through its Local Shops on Amazon program.

FILE PHOTO: The Amazon logo is seen at the Young Entrepreneurs fair in Paris, France, February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo FILE PHOTO: The Amazon logo is seen at the Young Entrepreneurs fair in Paris, France, February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: The Amazon logo is seen at the Young Entrepreneurs fair in Paris, France, February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo (REUTERS)

Amazon is hosting its annual event, Amazon Smbhav, in India between April 15 and April 18. On the first day of the event, Amazon announced a $250 million venture fund to help digitise startups and small and medium businesses in India.

The newly introduced fund is called the $250 million Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund and it aims to invest in startups and entrepreneurs focusing on technology innovations in SMB digitisation, agriculture and healthcare in India. While announcing the fund, Amazon India said that its venture fund will specifically focus on encouraging the best ideas to digitize SMBs, drive technology-led innovation in agriculture to improve farmer productivity and enable them to bring the best of India’s farms to consumers and enable universal and quality healthcare access for all using technology.

In the Agri-tech sector, the Venture Fund will invest in Indian startups that are using technology to bring the best produce to consumers, make agri-inputs more accessible to farmers, provide tailored agronomy solutions to farmers to improve productivity, distribute credit and insurance to farmers or reduce food waste by building efficient farm to fork supply chains.

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In the Healthcare sector, the fund will invest in Indian startups that are using technology for doctor assistance, telemedicine, e-diagnosis, AI-powered treatment recommendations or digitizing operations of healthcare providers such as independent primary care clinics, diagnostic labs, pharmacy value chain or specialty doctor clinics for improving access to a wider patient base agnostic of physical geographic location.

In addition to this, the company also announced its plans of digitising one million offline retailers and neighbourhood stores online, on the Amazon India marketplace by 2025 through its Local Shops on Amazon program.

Apart from this, Amazon India also launched the ‘Spotlight North East’ initiative to bring 50,000 artisans, weavers and small businesses online from the eight states in the North East region of India by 2025 and to boost exports of key commodities like tea, spices and honey from the region. The company announced that it is partnering with government organisations including TRIFED and NEHHDC to engage, skill and digitally enable artisan and weaver communities across the region. The e-retail giant also said that the Amazon Global Selling will also help boost exports of special agri-commodities from the  North East like tea, honey, and spices to Amazon customers worldwide.

Today’s announcements are in line with the announcement made by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos at Amazon Smbhav 2020. At the event, Bezos had said that his company would be investing $1 billion in digitising small and medium businesses (SMBs) on its platform in India. Apart from this, Amazon had also pledged to digitise 10 million SMBs and create 1 million jobs in India by 2025.

More recently, Amazon India announced that it had digitised 2.5 million SMBs. The company also said that it has created over 300,000 million direct and indirect jobs in India across industries in the past year.

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