Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, on a surprise visit to India, on Wednesday predicted that the 21st century is going to belong to the world’s largest democracy.
“I predict that the 21st century is going to be the Indian century. The dynamism, the energy, everywhere I go here is amazing. I meet people who are interested in self-improvement and growth,” Jeff said during a fireside chat with Amazon India head and Senior Vice President, Amit Agarwal at the first edition of Amazon Smbhav – a summit for small, micro and medium business (SMBs) underway in New Delhi.
The Amazon chief also predicted that India and the US will form the most important alliance in the 21st century.
“In the 21st century, the most important alliance will be formed between India and the US, the world’s oldest and the world’s largest democracy,” he said.
At the Smbhav event, being held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Jeff announced that Amazon would be making an “incremental investment of $1 billion in digitising small and medium businesses” to a packed audience of SMB entrepreneurs.
He also committed to using the global ecommerce giant’s footprints to give a fillip to India’s exports.
“We will use our global footprint to export outside India $10 billion ‘Made in India’ goods by 2025. We are super excited about this,” he said.
To do so, Amazon will establish 100 Digital Haats across India to help businesses integrate into the digital economy. These Digital Haats will provide services like ecommerce onboarding, imaging and cataloguing, warehouse space, logistics, digital marketing, and compliance.
Further, to support local shops and kiranas, the company will be expanding Amazon Easy and “I Have Space” programmes for additional income opportunities.
"Amazon Easy" will help kirana shops to set up kiosks to help customers choose the right product, placing an order on the ecommerce site, and earn a commission on each sale.
On the other hand, “I Have Space” will enable local stores to earn additional income by using their shops as a mini delivery centre and deliver products ordered on Amazon in their neighbourhood.
Speaking of Amazon’s early days, Jeff said that the Seattle-based company had also started as an SMB.
“I was an SMB myself. Twenty-five years ago, Amazon was a tiny, little company. I was driving the packages to the post office myself, I was also wrapping the packages,” Jeff reminisced.
Amazon was started in 1994 as a platform for ordering books online. Today, it has a market cap of over $900 billion.
(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)