How Facebook is enabling small businesses to connect with consumers and up their selling game
The COVID-19 pandemic dealt a severe blew to the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) sector when it hit India in 2020. However, it also enabled these traditionally-run businesses to accelerate digital adoption.
“Pandemic has taught us many things and among those, it has taught us how resilient Indian SMBs are and how amazing their journeys have been to digital,” said Archana Vohra, Director Global Business Group Scale and SMB India, Facebook India at TechSparks 2021, YourStory’s flagship startup-tech conference.
She points out that 53 percent of the operational SMBs on Facebook and its family of apps, saw 25 percent of their sales come digitally. These percentages are indicative of a structural shift.
“The consumers are online, the businesses are online, demand is online, discovery is online, what else do you need?” she quipped.
The capital flow
According to a study by Facebook and Deloitte, 30 percent of the SMBs struggle to meet their working capital needs. “This means they would not have the money to pay salaries, run operations, or compete with their competitors. This creates a huge divide and there we took a call to introduce grants,” said Archana.
In September 2020, Facebook had announced grants totalling $4.3 million (Rs 32 crore) to more than 3,000 small businesses across five Indian cities, including Delhi and Mumbai, to help them grow their operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a part of Facebook's $100 million grant, announced in March 2020 to help small businesses in 30 countries cope with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Facebook also launched a ‘Small Business Loans Initiative’ programme in August 2021, where it has partnered with fintech lending startup Indifi to help small and medium businesses (SMBs) avail of easy, collateral-free loans.
“All these initiatives are to give ‘suvidha’ to our SMB entrepreneurs, helping them wherever needed,” Archana added.
From starting up to scaling up, Facebook handholds SMB entrepreneurs on their business journey by providing them with skills throughout their various skill development programmes and initiatives.
“We have programmes built for all stages. Right from our ‘Digital Business Programme’ that helps an entrepreneur who has just started their journey on Facebook, to the one who wants to upskill in advertisements, and the ‘Managed Partners Programme’ that helps SMBs in scaling up; we have built programmes for all stages of business entrepreneurs,” she explained.
Facebook has also started its VCBR programme where it partners with venture capitalists (VCs) and enables their portfolio. “In the last one year, we have enabled more than 300 brands and over 11 VCs have used this platform,” Archana added.
We are thinking about the future and rethinking with SMBs, said Archana, adding that digital is here to stay. “It is a tide changer and a game-changer.”
According to a study done by Facebook in association with GfK, 96 percent of the consumers find the brands and products of their choice online and 83 percent of them find it on Facebook.
“It is a high time for digital businesses and a great opportunity for homepreneurs to create a success story. We would continue to enable SMBs wherever they need us.” Archana signed off.
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