Facebook Dedicates $4.3 Mn to Indian SMEs from Its $100 Mn Global Grant The grant program will cater to over 3,000 small businesses from all industries and verticals across Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Bangalore-cities where Facebook has offices

By Shipra Singh

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Facebook India managing director Ajit Mohan on Tuesday announced the launch of small business grant for India.

Of the USD 100 million global grant that the social media giant had announced back in March, USD 4.3 million (INR 32 crore) has been dedicated to India.

"The grant includes both cash and ad credits, with cash constituting a larger share," Mohan said in a blogpost.

The grant program will cater to over 3,000 small businesses from all industries and verticals across Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Bangalore—cities where Facebook has offices. Even those businesses that do not have presence on the various Facebook-owned apps—WhatsApp, Instagram, SnapChat etc—can apply for the program.

"They (small businesses) are also free to do what they wish to do with this grant," said Mohan.

He added that Facebook wants to do everything it can to help the recovery of small businesses from the pandemic, as it is be critical to the recovery of Indian economy.

Gift Cards To Boost Reach

In addition to the grant program, Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram have launched capabilities for businesses to drive the discovery and sale of Gift Cards, Mohan said in the blogpost.

An enterprise with a business account on either Facebook or Instagram can tie up with gifting partner for digital cards. Next, it can add the digital gift card to its Instagram profile and share it with its local community on Facebook, so people can use them when they come to learn about the business.

"During the pandemic, it's been inspiring to see how people and businesses have come together on the Facebook family of apps to support their local communities," Mohan said. "Gift cards will help small businesses reach more potential customers online. They will also help small businesses to get cash flow when they need it the most, and even when physical stores might be shut."

Configuring gift cards on Facebook and Instagram is free for businesses.

Facebook, Jio, Kiranas and More

In April, Facebook had announced an investment of USD 5.7 bn (INR 43,574 crore) in Reliance Jio Platforms, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries (RIL), for a stake of 9.9 per cent.

Commenting on the deal, Mark Zuckerberg pointed that the main focus of the partnership is to get millions of small businesses online.

"India has more than 60 million small businesses and millions of people rely on them for jobs. With communities around the world in lockdown, many of these entrepreneurs need digital tools they can rely on to find and communicate with customers and grow their businesses. This is something we can help with—and that's why we're partnering with Jio to help people and businesses in India create new opportunities," he said in a post on Facebook.

In addition to the investment, Facebook-owned WhatsApp announced a commercial partnership with RIL's e-commerce platform JioMart to create hyperlocal delivery network by connecting small businesses and Kiranas on JioMart with customers using WhatsApp.

RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani said JioMart and WhatsApp together will empower nearly 3 crore small Kirana shops to digitally transact with every customer in their neighborhood. "Small Kiranas can grow their businesses and create new employment opportunities using digital technologies."

Mohan, in his blogpost today, reiterated the same sentiment with the announcement of the grant program.

"Earlier this year, we underlined our commitment to India and especially to small businesses through the USD 5.7 billion investment and partnership with Jio Platforms. Today we're building on our commitment by announcing the small business grant for India."

Mohan pointed that Facebook's recent consumer behavior study in collaboration with consultancy firm Boston Consulting Group revealed that digitally influenced purchases increased by up to 15-20 per cent in urban consumers in just three months for key consumer categories.

As a result, small businesses need constant support and skilling to scale themselves as they pivot online, he added.

"We've skilled thousands of businesses since the pandemic began by taking our industry-leading skilling programs online," Mohan explained.

"Facebook's flagship program for skilling small businesses, Boost with Facebook, went virtual in India in May and saw more than 12,000 people register for it - 4x more than an in-person event. Other India-focused programs such as the Facebook Advertiser Vintage program 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 solutioning support, and go live with mobile friendly creatives and strategy in under 72 hours."

Ending the post, Mohan reiterated that Facebook wants to play an active role in furthering India's digital progress and advance India's social and economic growth and its commitment to small businesses is an important way in which it will do that.

Shipra Singh

Entrepreneur Staff

Freelance Journalist

Now a freelance journalist, ealier steered the Wealth section on the Entrepreneur website, covering everything finance. Previously a personal finance reporter at The Economic Times and Outlook Money.

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