Facebook offers $4.3 million in grants to Indian small, medium businesses


New Delhi: Social media giant Facebook on Tuesday said it will offer 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 is part of Facebook's $100 million grant, announced in March, to help small businesses in 30 countries cope with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

"As part of our $100 million global grant for small businesses announced back in March, today (Tuesday) we are announcing a grant of $4.3 million (Rs 32 crore) for more than 3,000 small businesses across Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru, where Facebook has offices," Facebook India MD and vice-president Ajit Mohan said in a blogpost.

The grant includes both cash and ad credits, with cash constituting a larger share, he added.

He said the grant programme is open to small businesses from all industries and verticals, and businesses do not need to have a Facebook family of apps presence in order to apply. Also, they would be free to do what they wish to do with this grant.

Mohan noted that earlier this year, Facebook underlined its commitment to India and especially to small businesses through its $5.7-billion investment and partnership with Jio Platforms.

"Small businesses are a big priority for Facebook. Every month, 180 million small businesses globally use the Facebook family of apps to reach potential customers and build their business.

"It means that for every 45 people in the world, there is a small business present on the Facebook family of apps," he said.

Mohan said that as more small businesses come online in India over the next decade fuelled by the rapid adoption of digital technologies, Facebook can play a material role in enabling new opportunities for them.

As per the India findings of the State of Small Business Report, more than a third of operational small and medium businesses (SMBs) on Facebook India expect cash flow to be a challenge in the next few months.

"We hope that our grant, along with the numerous other steps that we are taking to aid the recovery of small businesses can help some of them emerge from the crisis," he said.

The report, part of an ongoing research collaboration between Facebook, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the World Bank, surveyed small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) around the world, including India, in the context of COVID-19.

The survey also revealed that 41 per cent of operational SMBs on Facebook India reported that at least a quarter of their sales are made digitally.

More than half of operational SMBs on Facebook India also said they feel optimistic about the future of their business, it added.

To help small businesses impacted by COVID-19, Facebook and Instagram have launched capabilities for businesses to drive the discovery and sale of Gift cards.

Gift cards will help small businesses reach more potential customers online, and help them get cash flow when they need it the most, and even when physical stores might be shut.

Mohan said configuring gift cards on Facebook and Instagram is free for businesses, and the company has tied up with multiple partners to enable the issuance and management of these gift cards.

Mohan stated that its recent consumer behaviour study with the Boston Consulting Group showed that digitally influenced purchases increased by up to 15-20 per cent in urban consumers in only three months for key consumer categories.

"As small businesses pivot to online, they need constant support and skilling to scale themselves... We have skilled thousands of businesses since the pandemic began by taking our industry-leading skilling programmes online," he said.

Facebook's flagship programme for skilling small businesses 'Boost with Facebook' went virtual in India in May and saw more than 12,000 people register for it four times more than an in-person event.

Other India-focused programmes such as the Facebook Advertiser Vintage programme and VC Brand Incubator initiative have also gone virtual.

"Small businesses are agile and need accelerated support.

"That's why as part of our VC Brand Incubator initiative, we started Campaign Lab that helps direct-to-consumer businesses get creative solution support, and go live with mobile friendly creatives and strategy in under 72 hours," he said.

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