Pointing towards the growing importance of the Indian market in its plans, Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, which operates wholesale trading platform Alibaba.com, has launched an online platform, Small and Medium Industries Leveraging Export (SMILE) for Indian small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The SMILE platform will provide Indian SMEs access to global business trading counterparts as well as one-stop trading solutions including financing, logistics, inspections and certifications, technology and SME trade-linked education. Towards this, Alibaba has partnered with ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Crisil Rating, Tally, Capital Float, Jeena, SGS and Mypacco for the platform.
As per Alibaba, more than 4.5 Mn Indian SMEs are listed on its platform. It aims to connect Indian manufacturers with Chinese suppliers, provide Indian sellers trading support, and facilitate the global sales of Indian products through Alibaba.
Timothy Leung, head of global business development, Alibaba stated, “We are excited to team up with credible and capable local Indian enterprises to offer this SMILE program, helping SMEs from India expand their business footprint in an efficient way. With resources from different enterprises which excel in their own fields, our B2B e-ecosystem can benefit more than 10 million SMEs in India.”
Alibaba’s interest in helping Indian SMEs connect with global counterparts comes on the back of the fact that India is now the second most important market for Alibaba globally, next only to China. Through SMILE, the company is replicating its experience in China where through its B2B platform, it brought buyers and suppliers together and then ventured into supporting different aspects of the ecosystem. It aims to do the same in Indian market which has similarities with the Chinese market as far as population size, kind of SMEs and also the core path in the ecommerce is concerned.
Much before strengthening the B2B side of business, the ecommerce behemoth has been solidifying its presence in the B2C business as well. It has invested in Indian ecommerce companies – Paytm and Snapdeal, thus underlining the growing importance it attaches to the Indian market. According to multiple sources, Alibaba has invested over $830 Mn in Paytm’s latest round in September against 30% stake.
Similarly, ecommerce marketplace Snapdeal raised over $500 Mn in a new funding round led by Alibaba, Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn, and Japanese Telco major SoftBank this August. In April, founder and chairman Jack Ma during his visit to India, joined hands with India’s Globals Inc, to establish a startup incubator focused on mobile internet and mcommerce.
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