Announcing SMB Grants and Gift Cards today
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. That means that for every 45 people in the world, there is a small business present on the Facebook family of apps.
Starting a business anywhere in the world can be daunting but with Facebook, it takes just a few minutes for a small business to set up a digital presence through our apps. Facebook is their bridge to the new global mobile economy, and we’re excited to be a part of their story.
India has a thriving startup culture, and we have the potential to be the next hub for digital innovation, pushing business models that can be scaled to other similar markets. The 60 million small businesses in India are a key growth driver for the economy, fueling innovation and disruptive business models. They enable a reduction in income inequality, create new jobs, and contribute 30% to the GDP. 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.
Powering the economic recovery of small businesses
The recovery of small businesses from the pandemic will be critical to the recovery of Indian economy, and we want to do everything we can to help. 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.
As part of our USD 100 million global grant for small businesses announced back in March, today we are announcing a grant of USD 4.3 million (INR 32 crores) for more than 3000 small businesses across Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Bangalore, where Facebook has offices. The grant includes both cash and ad credits, with cash constituting a larger share. The Grant program 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. They are also free to do what they wish to do with this grant.
Today, we’re also announcing the India findings of the State of Small Business Report, an ongoing research collaboration between Facebook, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the World Bank to survey small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) around the world, including India, in the context of COVID-19. According to the survey, more than a third of operational 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’re taking to aid the recovery of small businesses, can help some of them emerge from the crisis.
Accelerating economic opportunities for small businesses
The State of the SMB Survey also revealed that 41% 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 that they feel optimistic about the future of their business. As small businesses adapt to new businesses models that are built on digital, Facebook is looking for ways to make their offline to online journey seamless.
To help small businesses impacted by COVID-19, today we’re announcing that Facebook and Instagram have launched capabilities for businesses to drive the discovery and sale of Gift Cards. 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. 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, and we have tied up with multiple partners to enable the issuance and management of Gift Cards.
Equipping small businesses with the skills to adapt
Our recent consumer behaviour study with the Boston Consulting Group revealed that digitally influenced purchases increased by up to 15%-20% in urban consumers in just three months for key consumer categories. As small businesses pivot to online, they need constant support and skilling to scale themselves.
We’ve skilled thousands of businesses since the pandemic began by taking our industry-leading skilling programs online. 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.
Unleashing the power of digital technologies
The real power of digital infrastructure gets unleashed as startups and small businesses come online, and new opportunities arise across verticals. What the pandemic has shown us is that digital is no longer just an alternate channel for brands to connect with consumers, but a fundamental driver of step change in business outcomes.
Every day we see amazing examples of how access to technology can be an equalizer in creating economic opportunities and play a critical role in fostering entrepreneurship and innovation. Our commitment to India and its people is unwavering - we want to play an active role in furthering India’s digital progress and advance India’s social and economic growth.
And our commitment to small businesses is an important way in which we are going to do that.
Written by Ajit Mohan, MD and VP, Facebook India