BENGALURU: Social media giant Facebook today said it is looking to scale up extending "Boost Your Business" programme to villages in India to help entrepreneurs in improving their business prospects.
"We are doing a bunch of different initiatives catered specifically to arts and crafts of India that live in villages. The challenge before us now is of scaling this up," Head of Economic Growth Initiatives for Facebook India Ritesh Mehta told PTI here.
"So we will try to partner with the organisation which will help us scale because one company can do a limited amount of things. But if we partner with 10 NGOs or governments, then together we can do a lot more," he added.
Arts and crafts is a very big focus area for Facebook and it is running a specific initiative for rural entrepreneurs, he said.
"When we visited five cities of Uttar Pradesh, we actually went out to the villages, not just the cities. When we were in Banaras, we also went outside Banaras as well, where weavers live and showed them the usage of Facebook page. Same thing we did in Kanauj and Kanpur," he said.
Facebook is starting to work with NGOs like Seva in Gujarat that have a huge network of rural artisans, he said.
When asked how many partnerships Facebook has struck to take the programme to cities and villages, Mehta said,"Right now we are not ready to announce the partnership with NGOs, but we work with them for different initiatives."
Mehta also said Facebook is in talks with the Karnataka government, but do not have a formal package to take this programme to cities across the state.
"We are in conversation, but we don't have a formal package as of now. We would love to take this programme to other cities across Karnataka," he said.
Asked why Karnataka was not the first destination to implement the initiative, especially as Bengaluru is considered a hotbed for net connectivity, he said that before talking to the government, they wanted to be sure they establish their initiative here.
"We have started doing that," Mehta said.
He said they had so far covered seven cities in India, including Hyderabad and Bengaluru and trained 4,000 women entrepreneurs. By year end, Facebook aims to cover 20 to 25 cities, training women entrepreneurs to use technological tools on Facebook to better their business prospects, Mehta said.
"This year we aim to cover four or five other states. Apart from that we aim to cover eight to 10 other cities. Probably by year end we would have have gone to 20 to 25 cities," he said.
"We have cities like Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Indore already listed in our calendar, where we would be visiting," he added. Mehta said this initiative is never-ending and would continue even after covering 29 states and 100 cities as there would be new technologies and platforms created in future, which would prompt them to update entrepreneurs.
Asked about the success stories, he said, "If the entrepreneurs who know to use Facebook... they are the ones who definitely have tasted success. There are success stories everywhere - that is encouraging us to go to more and more cities so that we can talk about their success stories."
However, these successes have not come about overnight as it takes time and energy to improve business content to reach out to customers, Mehta said.
"This definitely is success, but not an overnight success. If you start a Facebook page today, you are not going to taste success tomorrow itself. You need to improve your content to reach out to customers to better your business," Mehta said.