Facebook announces $4.3 million grant for small businesses in India, introduces support for gift cards

More than a third of small and medium-sized businesses on Facebook in India expect cash flow to be a challenge for them as they navigate the coronavirus pandemic in the next few months, according to a report by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank.

Facebook, which reaches nearly every internet user in India and which collaborated with OECD and World Bank on the report, wants to help. The social giant today announced a grant of $4.3 million for more than 3,000 small businesses across Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore (Indian cities where the company has its offices).

In an interview with TechCrunch, Ajit Mohan, head of Facebook India, said the grant includes both cash and ad credits, with cash constituting the larger share. These businesses don’t have to advertise on Facebook to be eligible for the grant, he said. Businesses can apply for the grant starting today.

The India grant is part of the company’s $100 million global grant for small businesses that it announced in March.

Gift Cards on Facebook and Instagram (Image Credits: Facebook)

Additionally, Facebook and Instagram have also launched capabilities for businesses in India to sell 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,” said Mohan.

These gift cards, which will be issued by startups Quiksilver and PayU, are designed to help businesses get the immediate cash flow to stay afloat. Users can redeem these gift cards at these businesses later on.

The announcement today comes as Facebook begins to engage deeply with small businesses in the country. The company invested $5.7 billion in Jio Platforms earlier this year and said it would work with the Indian giant to explore ways to serve the nation’s 60 million 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. Today we’re building on our commitment by announcing the small business grant for India,” said Mohan.

Scores of businesses in India already use Facebook to reach potential customers. WhiteHat Jr., an 18-month-old startup that teaches coding to kids, is one of the businesses that has used Facebook extensively in recent quarters. The startup was acquired by Indian decacorn Byju’s for $300 million last month.

More on Facebook’s business in India tomorrow. Mohan will be joining us at the Disrupt 2020 conference.

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