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Amid Backlash For Breaches, Facebook, WhatsApp Turn To Supporting Indian Start-Ups Even as WhatsApp faces challenges in India, the collaboration to help budding start-ups comes as a welcome reminder of the potential that big technology companies have, in terms of their ability to lend support

By Debroop Roy

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Amid backlash for a number of security breaches in the recent past, messaging platform WhatsApp has announced plans to invest $250,000 worth of ad-credits into the Indian start-up ecosystem.

WhatsApp has been embroiled in controversies around data privacy after breaches that leaked information of users across the world. In India, Israeli-spyware Pegasus reportedly snooped into the phones of 121 users, in what is deemed to be a targeted attempt at journalists and activists. WhatsApp also faced a setback thereafter as India's central bank blocked the launch of WhatsApp's payment services in the country.

Even as WhatsApp faces these challenges, the collaboration to help budding start-ups comes as a welcome reminder of the potential that big technology companies have, in terms of their ability to lend support.

Ad-Credit Support

Through the pact with StartUp India, WhatsApp will provide $500 each of ad-credits to 500 start-ups. The credits can be used to create advertisements that invite customers to click and open a chat, which will help them deepen connections and increase sales.

Start-ups must be at an early stage and be recognized by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade to be eligible for the credits. Interested start-ups can apply on StartUp India's website, with selection being done on a first-come-first-serve basis.

"India's entrepreneurs are at the forefront of bringing impactful social and economic change, and we at WhatsApp are committed to providing them support in achieving success," said Abhijit Bose, head of WhatsApp's Indian operations.

In June, the company awarded cheques of $50,000 to five Indian start-ups, who won the grand challenge, organized by StartUp India and WhatsApp.

Facebook's Initiative

WhatsApp's parent company Facebook, too, has been lending support to start-ups in India with the company stating in July that it would collaborate with venture capital funds to accelerate growth of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

The VC Brand Incubator Program, touted to be the first in a series of programmes by the US tech giant, is intended to help in building a strong foundation for growth of SMBs with timely skilling and guidance.

Debroop Roy

Former Correspondent

Covering the start-up ecosystem in and around Bangalore. Formerly an energy reporter at Reuters. A film, cricket buff who also writes fiction on weekends.
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