Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, founder of space venture Blue Origin and owner of The Washington Post, participates in an event hosted by the Air Force Association September 19, 2018 in National Harbor, Maryland. Bezos talked about innovating in large organizations as well as staying on the cutting edge in the space industry.

Amazon announced Friday morning an award program that reflects its increasing attention to its small business partners. More than one million US-based Small and Medium-sized Businesses, or SMBs, sell products through Amazon. Globally, SMBs sold half of all the stuff bought on the platform last year.

Starting Friday, SMBs that sell on Amazon can nominate themselves to be considered for the title of 2019’s Small Business of the Year. Two more categories – Woman-Owned and Owner Under 30 – round out the trio of awards that come with a prize package of dedicated account management, advertising and promotion assistance, and a visit to the Seattle HQ. This is the inaugural edition of the awards.

“The purpose of these awards is to showcase what the most successful small businesses are doing right as a model for others to learn from,” said Amazon’s recently appointed Vice President of Small Business, Nicholas Denissen, in a release.

Amazon customers will vote on the winners from a slate of finalists selected by Amazon, which will evaluate entries for their company narrative, product selection, and (in true Bezosian fashion) customer obsession.

Last year’s creation of Amazon Storefronts offers a hint as to how the finalists will likely look. The curated selection of 20,000 small and medium-sized businesses from all 50 US states, and the website highlights featured sellers with stories and videos.

Additionally, the company reported last month it was on track to invest more than $15 billion to support its SMB partners for 2019. That may sound like a lot, but considering the fact that SMBs sold more than $2 billion on July’s Prime Day alone, supporting small business clearly supports Amazon’s bottom line too.

Third-party sales on Amazon reached $160 billion last year, CEO Jeff Bezos reported in his letter to shareholders. For comparison, that number was $95 billion for eBay.

[“source=businessinsider”]