Amazon offers small business owners $1B olive branch

Amazon offers small business owners $1B olive branch
Amazon offers small business owners $1B olive branch

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - Online giant to set up digital centres in 100 Indian cities, villages to help firms get online CEO Jeff Bezos said his company will invest $1 billion to bring small businesses online in India, reaching out to some of his fiercest critics in a goodwill visit that saw him donning traditional Indian attire and fly a kite with children.

Amazon and Walmart's Flipkart have been hit with a barrage of criticism from India's brick-and-mortar retailers who accuse the US giants of violating Indian law with deep discounts and discriminating against small sellers by promoting select big ones. The companies deny the allegations.

Just this week, the Competition Commission of India launched an anti-trust probe to look into those allegations.

Amazon said it will set up digital centres in 100 Indian cities and villages to help businesses get online to sell their goods and will offer support in marketing and logistics. The investment of $1 billion will help bring more than 10 million Indian businesses online and enable exports of India-made goods worth $10 billion by 2025, it added.

Speaking at a company event at a New Delhi stadium which Amazon described as "a first-of-its-kind mega summit" bringing together more than 3,000 small businesses, Bezos praised India and said Amazon was committed to being its long-term partner.

"The dynamism, the energy... the growth. This country has something special," Bezos, who wore a blue-coloured traditional Indian jacket, said to the audience which responded with cheers.

Other events in India have included Bezos paying his respects to a memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. Sources say he has sought a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other government officials.

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