Alibaba is looking to help more than 10 million Indian businesses with its new online platform.
The Alibaba Holdings Group Ltd., which operates wholesale trading platform Alibaba.com, announced Monday the launch of an online platform exclusively for Indian small and medium businesses. SMILE, which stands for Small and Medium Industries Leveraging Export, aims to provide Indian companies with partners outside of India that can help with global trading. Alibaba partnered with several Indian organizations, including national banks and transportation companies, to launch the program. Specifically, SMILE helps businesses with financing, logistics (domestic and cross-border), inspections, transportation, trade-linked education and technology, Alibaba says.
“By offering combined trading solutions to Indian small and medium enterprises (SMEs), SMILE hopes to make cross-border trading easier, helping over 10 million SMEs in India to explore global trading opportunities in a more cost-effective way,” the company says. India’s cross-border e-commerce market is expected to grow 79% in 2016, according to a recent study by Paypal Holdings Inc. and U.K. research firm Ipsos MORI.
Alibaba’s investment in India’s businesses is in line with initiatives set forth by the Indian government in the last year, such as Make in India and Digital India. Make in India is an initiative to encourage foreign and domestic companies to manufacture their products in India, and Digital India, launched in July, is an initiative to improve India’s online infrastructure and expand Internet connectivity throughout the country.
“To support the Make in India program, the SMILE initiative hopes to connect Indian manufacturers with quality Chinese suppliers on Alibaba.com, provide Indian sellers the trading support through the SMILE platform and facilitate the global sales of Indian products through Alibaba.com,” the company says.
SMILE is yet another initiative the Chinese e-commerce giant has targeted to Indian businesses. In June, Alibaba launched the India Trade Facilitation Center (TFC) to connect companies with trade services. Through the trade center, Indian companies can get access to Alibaba.com’s partners for import and export services such as trade financing, international shipping and customs clearance, the company says. By the end of 2014, Alibaba had 4.46 million registered Indian buyers and sellers, and the company hopes to double that in the next several months through SMILE.
In addition to launching its own platforms for Indian companies, Alibaba has recently invested in big e-commerce players in India. Alibaba, along with Asia tech companies Foxconn and Softbank, invested $500 million in Indian marketplace Snapdeal in August, according to CrunchBase. Alibaba also invested about $500 million in September in mobile payment and commerce platform Paytm, according to CrunchBase.
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