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E-commerce boom powers rise of ‘slumdog millionaires

India’s e-commerce boom is attracting entrepreneurs and artisans from slums across the country. Nadeem Sayed, 28, a resident of India’s largest slum, Dharavi in Mumbai, is one such person who is finding enthusiastic buyers overseas for his leather jackets online. Like him, many slum dwellers from Delhi, Bengaluru, Haryana and Rajasthan are selling products such as luggage, shoes, accessories, pottery, apparel and jewellery on online marketplaces including Amazon, Paytm, Snapdeal, eBay and Indianroots.
Sayed said he started selling jackets under Candid Leather brand name just a year ago and now he owns a two-bedroom house in Thane. “On Black Friday (November 27, 2015) I sold goods worth $10,000 (about Rs 6.84 lakh),” he said.
“Earlier I used to work for Rs 15,000 per month as karigar (craftsman) of leather jacket. Now I earn $22,000 (Rs 15 lakh) a month by selling jackets to markets like the US, UK and Canada.”
Similarly, Sundari Das, 22, from Pilkhana in Kolkata and her team of five other women who used to work as housemaids earlier have been selling chikankari embroidery bedsheets, napkins and table covers online for the past two years.
Das, who sells to Malaysian buyers, said she is saving for her girl child. “Education is very expensive. Moving to a bigger and better place can wait, her age and education won’t,” she said. Each member of the team now earns Rs 25,000 a month compared with just Rs 3,000 earlier.
Sensing an opportunity, US-based Amazon unveiled its global selling platform in India last year. This enables easy, simple and convenient access for all Indian sellers – including entrepreneurs, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and manufacturers – to Amazon marketplaces across the globe.
“Like China, India is on a strong growth trajectory. With burgeoning internet penetration and adoption of e-commerce, global sales from India will be a significant contributor for Amazon in the years to come,” said Eric Broussard, vice president-international seller services, Amazon.com. Amazon has now extended its global selling programme to allow Indian SMEs to sell on nine marketplaces including the US, Japan, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the UK and Mexico. “Currently over 6,000 sellers from India have access to this global customer base and can ship their products to 185 countries,” said Broussard.
All these online platforms are providing access to sellers to market products made in India on its platform to global customers. This is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India initiative to turn the country into a manufacturing hub to create jobs and lift incomes. Earlier this month, Amazon said it had set up dedicated ‘Make in India stores’ on its India and US websites.