Alibaba’s business-to-business arm Alibaba.com announced Monday that India had become its second largest market after China. Now the Chinese e-commerce giant is gearing up for a bigger push in India. According to Goldman Sachs, Indian e-commerce market will grow from just $22 billion last year to $300 billion by 2030. Alibaba.com global business development head Timothy Leung said the company will more than double the number of sellers on its platform in the next few months.
Alibaba launches SMILE to assist Indian SMEs
Alibaba.com currently has 4.5 million Indian small and mid-sized businesses on its platform, and 40 million sellers worldwide. The B2B arm of the Hangzhou-based company aims to increase the number of Indian SMEs to 10 million within a few months. Taking a step in that direction, Leung launched an online platform called SMILE (small and medium industries leveraging export) to assist Indian SMEs in terms of logistics, financing, technology, certifications, and training.
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The Chinese company also signed agreements with Kotak Mahindra Bank, ICICI Bank, Tally, Crisil Rating, Mypacco, Jeena, and SGS to provide a 360-degree support system to SMEs looking to scale up. The Jack Ma-led company is looking to expand its base in categories that do not have a strong presence in China. Leung said it was Alibaba’s way of extending support to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make In India and Digital India initiatives.
Focusing on ecosystem, not quick returns
Leung said the Indian B2B market was pretty similar to the Chinese market. In China, the company’s B2B platform brought suppliers and buyers together, and then expanded its business to different aspects of the ecosystem. He said the company was not looking at immediate returns with the SMILE program. Instead, it will focus on strengthening its ecosystem.
On the business-to-consumer side, Alibaba has invested $680 million to acquire 40% stake in Indian mobile payment startup Paytm. It has also picked up a close to 5% stake in India’s second-largest e-commerce platform Snapdeal. In August, Alibaba, Foxconn, and SoftBank invested $500 million in Snapdeal, valuing the startup at $5 billion.