Amazon unveils $250 million Smbhav Venture Fund for start-ups, entrepreneurs

Our Bureau Bengaluru | Updated on April 15, 2021

Will focus on encouraging the best ideas to digitise SMBs, drive tech-led innovation in agriculture and provide quality healthcare access using tech

Amazon India on Thursday announced a $250-million Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund for start-ups and entrepreneurs.

The announcement was made at the opening session of the second edition of its flagship event Smbhav.

The Venture Fund will specifically focus on encouraging the best ideas to digitise 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.

Investment in M1xchange

As part of the fund, Amazon announced an investment in “M1xchange” — a start-up focusing on invoice discounting marketplace exchange for MSMEs (Micro Small and Medium Enterprises) established under the TReDS licence (Trade Receivables Discounting System licence). M1xchange connects MSMEs with banks and financiers and vice versa through the marketplace exchange and the MSME is able to assign its invoice dues to a bank or financier and receive financing at better rates; thereby, solving the payments challenge for MSMEs.

Additionally, Amazon announced plans to digitally empower and bring 1 million offline retailers and neighbourhood stores online, on the Amazon India marketplace by 2025 through the Local Shops on Amazon programme.

Focus on N-E

Amazon also launched the ‘Spotlight North East’ initiative to bring 50,000 artisans, weavers and small businesses online from the 8 States in the North-East by 2025 and to boost exports of key commodities like tea, spices and honey from the region. To showcase unique GI products and hidden gems like Chakshesang Shawls from Nagaland, Muga Silk from Assam, different types of weaves like Moirang Phee from Manipur, varieties of teas and spices like the Mizo Chilli, etc, Amazon will launch a dedicated North-East storefront on its marketplace.

The new initiatives were announced during a fireside chat at Amazon Smbhav between Andy Jassy, AWS CEO and incoming CEO of Amazon, and Amit Agarwal, Global Senior V-P and Country Head, Amazon India, where they reiterated Amazon’s long-term commitment to unlock the infinite possibilities for India.

Agarwal said, “In 2020, we pledged to digitise 10 million SMBs, enable $10 billion in exports, and create 1 million jobs by 2025. Through our initiatives, we are committed to be a catalyst and a partner in unlocking the possibilities for a Digital India, and realise the vision of an Atmanirbhar Bharat put forth by the Prime Minister. 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 1million offline shops on and digitally empower the North East region will accelerate the progress towards a digital and self-reliant India.”

Published on April 15, 2021

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