Amazon India on Thursday launched a $250 million venture fund that will invest in startups and entrepreneurs focused on technology innovations in agriculture, healthcare and digitising small and medium businesses (SMBs).
“The venture fund will independently invest in startups, building solutions to empower SMBs to launch, manage, and grow their business online, automate and digitise their operations, and expand their business globally by exporting to customers worldwide. These investments will help seed and scale up innovation in the sector,” the e-commerce giant said.
The fund will also be investing in healthcare and agri startups. It aims to invest in companies that are making agri-inputs more accessible to farmers, offering solutions to improve productivity, distribute credit and insurance or are building efficient farm-to-fork supply chains to reduce food wastage. It also aims to back companies that are using technology for doctor’s assistance, telemedicine, e-diagnosis and companies that are digitising primary care clinics among others.
The first such investment by the fund will be in M1xchange, a startup focusing on invoice discounting marketplace exchange for micro, small and medium enterprises. M1xhange is raising $10 million through the funding round in which BEENEXT and existing investor Mayfield are also participating, apart from Amazon.
As a part of its push to digitise SMBs, Amazon runs a Local Shops on Amazon platform, for onboarding thousands of small merchants. The company is scaling up this programme and aims to bring 1 million retailers and neighbourhood stores online by 2025.
The programme was launched in April 2020 at a time a complete lockdown had been announced in India in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last month, Amazon had said that over 50,000 offline retailers and neighbourhood stores were now a part of this programme.
Amazon on Thursday also launched a Spotlight North East initiative, through which it aims to bring e-commerce access to 50,000 weavers, artisans, and local small businesses in the region by 2025. A dedicated northeast storefront will also be launched on Amazon India’s marketplace.