Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.com is taking the Indian market very seriously indeed. On Monday, it announced the launch of a slew of services for Indian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) selling on Alibaba.com.
Called SMILE, which stands for Small and Medium Industries Leveraging Export, the programme will offer solutions like financing, logistics, certifications and technology. Alibaba’s partners for the SMILE programme include companies like ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Crisil Rating, Tally, Capital Float Jeena, SGS and Mypacco, who will provide finance, credit rating, online lending, and transportation support to SMEs. This initiative is meant for the merchants who are on Alibaba.com, the global resellers platform that was opened to Indian SMEs in July.
“We have teamed up with very credible and capable local Indian enterprises to offer the SMILE programme and help Indian SMEs expand their business footprint,” says Timothy Leung, Head of Global Business Development, Alibaba.com.
He adds that with resources from different enterprises, the platform can help more than 10 million Indian SMEs. Currently, the company claims 4.5 million Indian SMEs are registered on the platform. It has buyers and suppliers from 190 countries on its platform.
Alibaba has been focussing on the Indian market aggressively. Apart from opening up its global resellers platform to Indian merchants, Alibaba has also invested in Indian e-commerce majors Snapdeal and Paytm. Alibaba operates online retail and wholesale businesses and Alibaba.com is its global wholesale platform. During FY2015, the wholesale arm contributed to over 6.5 per cent of Alibaba Group’s revenue.
The 45-million-strong SME market in India is largely unexploited. However, companies are recognising the value and spending power of this segment. A few days ago, Facebook announced the launch of SME Council in India—its first outside US—to leverage technology for small businesses. A few days ago, Paytm announced its partnership with LendingKart, an online platform for credit evaluation for SMEs, to offer collateral-free business loans to SMEs. The partnership aims to give a new selling experience to merchants and reduce the burden of funds for their operational purposes. This focus on Indian SMEs is a good move and will only help these small businesses grow.