India’s largest online marketplace, IndiaMART represented India and its ecommerce success story at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development eCommerce Week in Geneva. Mr Dinesh Agarwal (Founder & CEO – IndiaMART) and Mr Brijesh Agrawal (Co-founder and Director – IndiaMART) talked about what does it take to develop a successful digital economy in the developing world and its impact.
The duo was a part of multiple panels, along with other prominent international dignitaries and global industry experts. This included Mr Roberto Azevêdo (Director-General, World Trade Organization) and Dr Mukhisa Kituyi (Secretary-General, UNCTAD) who talked about why Governments . Together, these distinguished luminaries discussed in detail about how businesses can survive and thrive in today’s digital-first age, especially in the developing and least developed world. Dinesh and Brijesh also shared insights into India’s digital vision, and the key lessons other developing nations could take away from its ongoing digital transformation to stimulate their own economic growth.
Mr. Dinesh Agarwal said that how e-commerce could help in alleviating poverty in developing countries by enabling better business opportunities, e-commerce platforms had been playing a critical role in the development of India by democratising resources and opportunities, especially for the rural communities. He quoted a survey which showed how small Indian businesses using online marketing initiatives were likely to grow by up to 50% more than those businesses which remained offline. He also talked about how – despite the challenges – the internet remained a driver of positive change, empowering businesses and improving health care and education. Speaking on the benefits of digital economy, he said, “Platforms provide benefits for businesses of all sizes in developing countries. The smallest can enter the market and the biggest can access the most remote part of it.”
He encouraged the developing and least developed nations to build their own capabilities and said, “Too powerful platforms have always existed. But if we’re afraid of creating platforms then we’ll miss out on new technologies and innovation. If they get too pervasive, then we’ll deal with them.”
Another interesting comment made at the UNCTAD 2018 was about the need for sustainable development and digital growth, and the larger impact of the digital economy on how the global business dynamics played out. India, one of the fastest growing e-commerce markets in recent years, was a subject of much analysis in this regard.
Talking about the need for taking digital enablement to a larger number of smaller businesses across developing nations, Brijesh Agrawal, Co-founder and Director – IndiaMART, said, “The access to affordable high-speed data has been transforming the world. In India alone, the total number of internet users has grown 2X over the last eighteen months. The important thing, here, is figuring out how countries and businesses can use this dynamic in their favour.” Speaking on the impact of digital economy on the Service Sector, he said, “It is also critical to bring in some form of standardisation of services. Unlike the B2C products, comparing services in the B2B segment is not very easy, as all providers have their individual specifications. The quality of services offered needs to beat the customer expectations.”
Another key takeaway from the UNCTAD panel discussions was the need for a conducive countrywide framework which can enable and drive a digitally-led economy. India, for instance, has been creating a holistic, end-to-end ICT ecosystem for digital adoption through various government-backed initiatives, such as NPCI, Aadhaar, GST and private participation by companies like Reliance Jio. This focus on digitisation has been instrumental in the rise of digital commerce across the country. With the number of internet users in India expected to cross 500 million by June 2018, the conference talked about how businesses in developing nations can take advantage of the growing digitisation for more seamless global operations.
The digital opportunity for India and other developing nations is truly immense, and the UNCTAD 2018 impressed upon how to best tap into this unparalleled technological resource for ensuring a far-reaching socio-economic impact. “UNCTAD can help the developing world find synergies and make them learn from each other and from the developed world so that we do not end up making the same mistakes,” concluded Dinesh Agarwal.