New Delhi: Facebook Inc., the OECD and the World Bank have collaborated to develop the Future of Business Survey, a new source of information on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The partnership demonstrates the value of private-public partnership in producing timely, policy-relevant aggregated data to help inform decision-making at all levels. With more than 60 million small and medium-sized enterprises using Facebook to connect with customers, this new survey is a unique window into the new digital and mobile economy.
“This survey reflects India’s entrepreneurial spirit with small businesses feeling positive about the road ahead. These small businesses are the backbone of our economy and we are committed to helping them innovate and grow,” said Ankhi Das, public policy director for Facebook India, South and Central Asia.
In India, 59% of the people on Facebook are connected to at least one small business, while 41% of Indians on Facebook are connected to at least one business in a foreign country.There are two million SMB Pages on Facebook in India as of October 2015.
In the first seven months, more than 3,888 SMBs on Facebook, across India, responded to the survey via email. The key findings reveal that small businesses had a significantly more positive outlook on the future (looking six months ahead) than in the reporting period (February-July 2016) in terms of business confidence and employment growth. 55% of businesses felt positive on their current outlook, compared to 73% who described their future outlook as positive. Other findings include:
—80% of respondents use online tools or platforms for at least 5 out of 6 purposes listed.
—The most common uses were showing products or services (84%), selling providing information, for example, opening hours, contact info, etc (83%), advertising to potential customers (81%)
—16% of SMBs surveyed in India engaged in international trade.
—Most common business challenges include attracting customers (61%) followed by maintaining profitability (48%) and increasing revenue (43%).
—Only 11% of the businesses are either owned by women or have women in top management positions. This is the lowest out of the countries surveyed, barring Egypt. Empowering and inspiring women in India is critical to the future of India’s economy and something that Facebook is committed to.
“In 2014, four women from Pune founded Coppre, a social enterprise working towards reviving a 400-year tradition of handcrafted metalware to help artisans across India sell their products online. Empowering and inspiring women like Coppre is critical to the future of India’s economy. If India can increase participation of women by just 10% (68 million) by 2025, we could increase our GDP by double-digit percentage points. Our Future of Business Survey reveals what we have long known—we have a long road ahead to change with only 11% of the businesses surveyed in India are either owned by women or have women in top management positions, one of the lowest globally. Through our #SheMeansBusiness initiative we are committed to change and to helping more women turn their passions into reality,” said Das.
The number of new women-owned SMB pages on Facebook in India has increased approximately six-fold in the last four years (between 2012 and 2015).
The Future of Business Survey is an ongoing online survey, administered each month by German research company, FactWorks. It was first launched in 17 countries in February 2016 and in May/June 2016 it was expanded to include 22 countries. Across all countries and survey months, businesses had a significantly more positive evaluation of the future (looking six months ahead) than of their current business situation in the reporting period. In general, respondents had a more positive evaluation (current and future) of their own businesses compared to assessments of their industry colleagues and the economy as a whole; possibly reflecting the coverage of companies in the survey (digitized) and their higher perceived growth prospects.