Hangzhou(China): The world’s largest Internet-fuelled business-to-business (B2B) operation — China-based Alibaba.com — has taken on a ‘desi’ tinge. Just 8 months after launching a special India Channel on its web site — the only geography singled out, beyond its home operation — it has attracted over 4 lakh Indian traders, most of them small or medium sized businesses.
Most of them have harnessed the huge visibility of the e-business portal to start buy or sell operations in the huge Chinese market as well as the rest of the world.
And quietly guiding the India operations is — an Indian, Operations Specialist for e-market place operations, Bharadwaj Pudipeddi, known to Chinese colleagues in history-steeped Hangzhou as ‘Waz’ — the closest they can get to pronouncing his name. “The India business has been Alibaba’s fastest growing operation,” he says.
And if proof were needed, that India might turn out to be Alibaba’s most canny connections, it was available for all to see, when Ansif Asharaf, was honoured as one of the world’s Top Ten e-business champions, at Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation SME summit ongoing here.
Still in his 20s, Mr. Asharaf has launched a very successful joint venture of his enterprise, Paradise International Polymers and Chemicals with a Chinese player as well as trading in Pakistan and Hong Kong.
“This is the year of the small guy, the small entrepreneur,” says Alibaba’s founder-chief executive Jack Ma. Already the largest Internet player in China, Alibaba — considered a brash newcomer even five years ago — has become an icon for the Chinese speaking people, cannily looking at successful Net players like Google, e-Bay and Amazon — and reshaping their models for the Asian psyche. Only Google remains bigger than Alibaba in the global arena, after the Hangzhou-based operation counted 25 million Chinese and 5 million global users.
“Why Alibaba? Because all over the world, from India to U.S. to Japan, they know Alibaba’s story,” says Mr. Ma. “So when we say Open Sesame everyone understands.”