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Guru-Turned-Entrepreneur Targets India's Online Market

Indian guru Baba Ramdev is seen during a press conference in New Delhi, India, Jan. 16, 2018.

Baba Ramdev, the popular yoga guru-turned-entrepreneur behind one of India's biggest brands, said Tuesday he was tying up with Amazon to target the country's $1 billion online market for consumer goods.

Ramdev built up a huge following through his yoga TV show before launching the Patanjali brand of products, which range from toothpaste to cooking oil and cosmetics.

Patanjali now rivals major international brands in India thanks to its low prices and home-grown credentials, but currently sells mainly through bricks-and-mortar shops.

Now it is tying up with a range of online retailers including Flipkart, Paytm and BigBasket as well as Amazon after a successful trial.

“The online mechanism is especially aimed at youngsters who want speed and comfort when it comes to shopping,” the yoga tycoon told journalists in Delhi.

The company has ambitious plans to double its turnover in the current financial year to $3 billion.

Ramdev, whose long beard and flowing saffron-colored robes make him an incongruous figure in the world of big business, is a huge celebrity in India.

He claims to live a simple life despite his riches and says all his profits go to charity. He has also denied past allegations of tax evasion.

“I have no dreams of personal wealth and prosperity. We are a not-for-profit company,” he said on Tuesday.

“We will invest each and every rupee that we make in charity.”

India had 60 million online shoppers in 2016, a figure that will rise by more than 50 percent by 2026, according to a report by Morgan Stanley.

“As India's largest online marketplace, we are focused on enabling home-grown brands to get online and engage with millions of customers,” said Manish Tiwary, a vice president at Amazon India.