Amazon, Flipkart planning to help SMEs go digital and grow their businesses

CAIT, in a letter to MSME Minister Nitin Gadkari, has raised a strong objection on working with Amazon and Flipkart
American rivals Walmart and Amazon are finally walking the common line, at least while dealing with small traders and corner stores in India. Having faced the heat from domestic trader lobbies, Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart on Monday organised two separate events to spread the word that they would help small and medium enterprises go up the tech ladder and grow their business. 

This follows a series of protests by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated Swadeshi Jagaran Manch against e-commerce companies, saying they had adversely hit the business of offline traders and physical retailers. Judith McKenna, president and chief executive officer, Walmart International, said a plan, ‘Walmart Vriddhi Supplier Development Program’, will be launched to provide business-development training to 50,000 SMEs over the next five years.

Twenty-five institutes will be set up across the country to train micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). “This is part of the company’s plan to source more from small businesses,” said McKenna.

“Last September, I was here to announce the Walmart Foundation’s $25-million investment to improve farmer livelihoods over five years,” she said. “Already, the Walmart Foundation has contributed over $10 million of that… This is expected to impact more than 81,000 farmers, including more than 29,000 woman farmers, throughout the country.” 

McKenna also said, “We also committed to Walmart India sourcing 25 per cent of all fresh produce directly from farmers who grow it — rather than through middlemen — and then sell that produce in our Cash & Carry stores.” The company also attempted to combat allegations of pushing foreign-made products in the Indian market by reaffirming its commitment to products manufactured wholly in India. Amazon India in association with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) also announced a partnership to work with MSMEs and SMEs in the country. 

The company has over 550,000 sellers on its platform, a chunk of which they claim are small businesses.  The company said in the first edition of Amazon Small Business Day, organised in December 2018, they witnessed a sales spike of 1.4 times. Close to 2,000 sellers saw a spike of more than 4 times and over 4,100 sellers saw a spike of over two times over the average business day during the event last year.

“Sellers talk about how they are successful working with us,” said Gopal Pillai, vice-president, seller services, Amazon India.

As part of this collaboration, Amazon and CII will conduct various activities, including a series of awareness workshops, road shows, and e-commerce training.

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