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How Meta Platforms are helping emerging D2C and small town SMBs grow their business

Great ideas are often born in smaller towns and cities. Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru have seen the first wave of startups, but increased digital penetration coupled with government initiatives have helped level the playing field for small town SMBs. The 63 million-strong micro, small, and medium businesses in India are referred to as the backbone of the economy.

In India, millions of small businesses use the Meta apps to launch direct-to-consumer (D2C) business journeys. In 2020, Meta announced grants for small businesses across five cities as part of its USD 100 million global grant to help small businesses gain access to timely credit.

To go one step further, Meta launched the Small Business Loans Initiative in 2021, which enabled business loans through third party lending platforms for Meta’s small business advertisers.

Helping small town SMBs reach the world

These growing SMBs can now access new funding, find opportunities for growth, and reach additional customers, spurring innovation and growth in the economy due to platforms such as Facebook and Instagram and apps like WhatsApp.

Neha Tandon Sharma, Founder and CEO of inclusive fashion brand Isadora Life, quit her thriving investment banking career only to return to Raipur and focus on creating something that could be practiced easily.

Often wearing a sari while managing her husband’s medical practice in Raipur, she found the process and time required to wrap a sari to be tedious and cumbersome. By tailoring a few of her saris into wrap-around skirt fits, she was now able to drape her sari in seconds. Her research revealed that many young women in India did not wear saris due to the cumbersome process, a market gap she could fill. The idea and her designs became an instant hit with her friends and family, and that’s how Isadora Life was born in 2019.

Between 2019 and 2022, Isadora Life’s sales have increased by an astounding 800 percent thanks to digital and Meta apps that have helped them build a brand from a small town. Their sales are influenced by Facebook and Instagram to the tune of 85 percent, as it has helped them find opportunities and reach new customers who were looking for products that were offered and created by Isadora Life.

Empowering growth journeys of D2C Businesses

Over the last two years, India has seen a strong increase in direct-to-consumer businesses. When Aditi Satnaliwala returned to India after her higher education abroad, she desperately missed the coffee culture prevalent in the west. Her aim to make the home coffee experience in India more interesting led her to launch Country Bean in 2017. From instant coffee flavours, Country Bean has expanded into drinkware, milk frothers, coffee spreads, and other products to make the coffee experience at home more cafe-like. What started out as a bootstrapped home business soon found recognition within India’s instant coffee market, dominated by international coffee brands.

Country Bean was focused on going direct-to-consumer before the term ‘D2C’ became popular. They have used Instagram heavily to develop the brand and attract potential customers throughout India, with Facebook serving as their international storefront. Additionally, WhatsApp assisted in providing quick and simple customer service. In the last three years, there has been a 149 percent yearly compounded growth rate.

Meta apps have contributed to letting them connect with coffee enthusiasts across the country and scaled the brand from a local one in Kolkata to a nationwide one today.

Supporting the next generation of women entrepreneurs

Interestingly, there has been a rise of women entrepreneurs in the space, with 20

percent of SMBs now being women-owned. This figure has jumped by almost 7 percent over the last 10 years, according to an online article by a Business World publication.

This trend reflects on Meta platforms as well. In India, more than 60% of Instagram businesses that self-identify as women-owned were set up since the start of the pandemic. Nearly 50% of female-led businesses on Facebook were also set up since the start of the pandemic.

When Ahana Gautam launched healthy snack company Open Secret, she discovered that India was munching more and looking for healthier options during the pandemic. And Open Secret aimed to give mothers in India more nutritious but enticing snack options for their kids. The pandemic has caused Indian consumers to shift practically all of their needs online, which is why Open Secret has maintained both online and offline distribution channels while pursuing a digital-first marketing and sales approach.

Ahana said that they had doubled in size over the previous year, with a large portion of that increase coming from the internet. By allowing businesses to connect with health-conscious consumers, particularly mothers, across India, the Meta apps have been crucial to their online expansion. In actuality, 60 percent of their purchases originate outside of major cities, and apps such as Instagram help them increase their visibility in these markets. Through direct communication with the customer, WhatsApp helped establish a stronger connection with them. Over the next year, it is intended to grow and increase at a rate of five times more.

If you want to learn more about the journey of small businesses from across industries and geographies, and Meta apps can do for you, don’t miss the Grow Your Business Summit on August 30 at 11 am.

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