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Amazon CEO pledges $1B to fuel small-business growth in India

Amazon.com Inc. will invest $1 billion to help small- and medium-sized businesses, or SMBs, in India to digitize in order to access online markets, India's CNBC TV18 reported Jan. 15, citing a statement made by Amazon Chairman and CEO Jeff Bezos at a company-hosted event in New Delhi.

"Twenty-five years ago Amazon was an SMB. Today we are announcing that we are going to invest $1 billion in digitizing SMBs" in India, Bezos reportedly said. "We will use Amazon's global footprint to export outside of India. We will export $10 billion worth of Make in India goods by 2025."

Amazon founder Bezos was speaking at the Amazon SMBhav, a business summit for micro, small and medium enterprises that runs from Jan. 15-16. The event was also attended by Amazon India Senior Vice President and Country Head Amit Agarwal, as well as executives from local companies, including Infosys Ltd. Co-founder Narayana Murthy and Future Group Founder and CEO Kishore Biyani, among others.

The pledge from Bezos follows an announcement on Jan. 13 by the Competition Commission of India that it would launch a probe into whether Amazon and Walmart Inc.'s Flipkart India Pvt. Ltd. stifle competition in the online market for smartphones in India following a complaint by Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh, a New Delhi-based organization that represents small traders.

Separately, the Press Trust of India reported on Jan. 15, citing documents from India's Ministry of Corporate Affairs, that Amazon has invested an additional 17 billion Indian rupees into its payments and wholesale businesses in India. Amazon Pay (India) Pvt. Ltd. has reportedly received 13.55 billion rupees, while Amazon Wholesale (India) Pvt. Ltd. has reportedly received about 3.60 billion rupees.

The Seattle-based e-commerce company has been financing continuously its Indian operations in recent years. Most recently, in November 2019, Amazon was reported to have invested an additional 44.73 billion rupees into its India-based subsidiaries.

As of Jan. 14, US$1 was equivalent to 70.86 Indian rupees.