AS MANY as 1,500 micro, small and medium-scale entrepreneurs from Uttar Pradesh have responded to social media giant Facebook’s initiative to use its services in giving boost to their businesses in the country and abroad.
Some of these entrepreneurs are people running their family businesses for the past several decades, ranging from the ‘Blue Lassi shop’ in Varanasi to a ‘coffee shop’ and a ‘chaat joint’ in Lucknow, from ‘itra (perfume) industry’ in Kannauj to the nearly 100-year-old sweet shops in the congested lanes of Varanasi.
The response, which Facebook analysed at the end of its six-week-long “boost your business” initiative Friday, has surprised the social media enterprise. As many as 572 pages from Lucknow-based entrepreneurs and another 300 from Varanasi came on Facebook to promote their business during the campaign in the past six weeks.
“The campaign has just ended today. Now we would compile and look into the data. As we are going to expand (to other parts of the country), these stories from UP would act as case studies,” Ritesh Mehta, Head of Economic Growth Initiatives for Facebook India, told The Indian Express.
Mehta acknowledged that it was “a first-of-its-kind experience for us as well”. “We wanted to experiment the idea at a large level and what could have been a better place in India than UP where there are over three million micro, small and medium scale enterprises,” he said. The Facebook’s campaign to promote its online business page and engage people to use the platform to promote theirs was undertaken in cities of Kannauj, Kanpur, Varanasi, Allahabad and Lucknow with the help of the state government.
Mehta said that their team of 12 knocked on the doors of some 3,000 small entrepreneurs, extending help to people on how to use the platform. He claimed that as many as 50 per cent of them started using the platform to build for themselves a client-base and reach out to the existing ones.
Ankhi Das, Director, Public Policy, Facebook-India, South and Central Asia, said she was surprised by the interest and energy shown by the small businessmen of UP to engage with technology to connect with the global audience. She quoted the example of Kanpur-based Supreet Bhatia, owner of an online women’s clothing store ‘Lucknowi Andaaz’ who is selling chikankari work through her Facebook business page. Another is Shyam Kishan Agarwal & Sons which has been into the wholesale trading of Banarasi sarees since 1966.
Realising the potential, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, who attended the campaign’s closing ceremony, promised that his government would be ready to work with “new ideas” even as he used the benefits of social media to take a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying “some even form governments with the help of social media”.
“We are a wonderful country and a state with wonderful people. We are ready to work with new ideas. Each of our district has its own varying economy. Kannauj has itra, Firozabad has glass work… it is time to enter into the global world with these interventions,” the CM said.
Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan, too, took a moment to inform that about 40 per cent of the handicraft export is being done from UP.