ICICI Bank offers online networking assistance to SMEs through ‘SME Empower’


ICICI Bank, in partnership with First Hive, a cross-channel marketing platform, has launched SME Empower, an online marketplace catering exclusively to small and medium enterprises. The marketplace is open to all SMEs, including non-ICICI Bank customers.

The e-commerce sector has been one of the most significant beneficiaries of the digital and technology transformations that India is witnessing. In turn, the e-commerce sector has ushered in a new era of conducting business in India by transforming the way customers and sellers interact with the marketplace. As per industry estimates, the e-commerce market in India is growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32% and is expected to grow to a market of $1.2 trillion by 2021 from the current $200 billion. This would make India the third largest consumer market in the world.

The opportunity is evident. Thousands of small players are establishing their own niche and the online retail B2C market is thriving and poised to grow at a phenomenal rate. However, what remains largely untapped, and what could present an unprecedented growth opportunity, is the online B2B marketplace.

According to estimates, the online B2B market is set to become six times than B2C e-commerce. Given that there are about 42.5 million micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in India which have 95% of the industrial units and employ 40% of the country’s workforce, it is safe to say that MSMEs will be the driving force that facilitate this rise. MSMEs are crucial for India’s economic development given their tremendous contributions to domestic production and export earnings and their comparatively low investment requirements. The need of the hour, then, is to give impetus to online networking platforms catering exclusively to MSMEs that allow a B2B exchange of goods

Ajay Gupta, Head- Commercial Banking and SME, ICICI Bank said in a statement, “At ICICI Bank, we are committed to offer innovative products and services to our customers at speed and high level of convenience. The SME Empower platform further underscores our commitment to be a partner in growth to the SMEs by providing access to a large ecosystem of customers and suppliers.”

The key features of SME Empower are:

  1. SME Empower offers an online community of registered SMEs to market their products to buy and sell amongst each other.
  2. This online marketplace will offer access to over 750 products in diverse categories from electronics and appliances to office equipment. Through a registration and verification process, entrepreneurs can create their own e-store free of cost. As buyers, SMEs on this platform get access to exclusive deals from other members of the marketplace on purchases for their business.
  3. The platform allows SMEs to efficiently manage inventory through a dashboard, that displays a real-time snapshot of their inventory and presents the option to auto-enable or disable products from the e-store.
  4. SMEs will also have access to a detailed online analytics report of their activities in the marketplace.
  5. Security of transactions on the SME Empower platform are done through an integrated ICICI Bank payment gateway.
  6. Through First Hive, sellers on SME Empower have access to a cross-channel marketing platform. Through this platform, SMEs can run marketing and outreach campaigns across a variety of channels such as emails, SMS and social media.