Unilever, Facebook’s Internet.org partner to increase Internet in rural India
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Mumbai: Unilever Plc, the Anglo-Dutch parent of India’s largest consumer packaged goods company Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), and Internet.org, a Facebook Inc-led alliance, on Monday announced a partnership to reach millions of people across rural India.
Just 13% of the Indian population has access to the Internet and the Internet.org and Unilever partnership will carry out a comprehensive study to examine opportunities to increase wider adoption in rural communities, they said in a statement.
The partnership hopes to bring Internet access to the two-thirds of the world who are not yet connected, through a collaborative effort. Apart from infrastructure and cost, which are known barriers to connectivity, the partnership will evaluate educational and cultural factors that also limit Internet use.
Online retailing is expected to be a Rs.500-crore industry by 2016, growing at 50-55% per annum over the next three years, Crisil Research said Monday, adding in 2012-13 the industry revenue was Rs.139 crore.
“HUL already works closely with online retailers like localbanya.com, bigbasket.com and plans to create solutions and for the online portals as they gain scale. We are trying to create an ecommerce package,” Manish Tiwary, executive director (sales and customer development), Hindustan Unilever, said in an interview earlier this month.
“Through our long history of serving the Indian market we bring an in-depth understanding of rural Indian communities. We hope, together with Internet.org, we can use this know-how to understand better how a vital modern resource (Internet) can benefit many more millions,” Keith Weed, chief marketing and communication officer, Unilever, said in the statement on Monday.
“In partnership with Unilever, we hope to break down the barriers to access and, in turn, provide millions of people with the information that can help them, and their communities, thrive,” said Chris Weasler, director of global connectivity, Facebook.