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Alibaba founder and chairman Jack Ma visited India to address a business conference in New Delhi on Wednesday, highlighting his interest in investing more in the country in a sign that the e-commerce giant wants to become a bigger player there.
While Alibaba doesn’t currently have any direct presence in India, Ma said: “I myself commit that we will invest more in India, work with Indian entrepreneurs, India technologists to improve the relationship of the two nations and to improve the great lives of human beings.” He didn’t provide further specifics.
Ma, who recently visited Hollywood, was speaking at an India-China business conference organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. China’s richest man was part of a business delegation of almost a hundred people from his hometown Zhejiang.
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“There are large numbers of Indian businesses on our websites,” Ma told the conference. “We have over 400,000 Chinese consumers buying Indian chocolates, spices and tea. I did not realize Indian chocolates were so popular … India has many more great products, which it can sell to China on Alibaba.”
Emphasizing Alibaba’s focus on helping small businesses globally, Ma said: “ Over the next three years, one of the key strategies for Alibaba is to globalize and to make sure that we can help more small businesses around the globe to use our services to do business.”
Concluded Ma: “I was a teacher. [The] Internet changed my life, and I absolutely agree that India can be changed by the Internet, too.”
While details of possible meetings with Indian entrepreneurs are not known, media reports in India suggested that he may have met Kunal Bahl, the founder of Snapdeal, which is considered the Indian version of Alibaba. Japan’s Softbank has invested heavily in both companies.
In October, SoftBank CEO and founder Masayoshi Son visited India, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also emphasized his interest in India. Softbank announced plans to invest $10 billion in online ventures in the country, with $837 million in deals already announced. These include a $627 million investment in Snapdeal and a $210 million stake in Uber-like taxi venture Ola Cabs.
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