How Meta-Platforms Help Emerging D2Cs and Small-Town SMBs Grow Their Business

Big ideas are often born in small towns. Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru saw the first wave of startups, but increased digital penetration coupled with government initiatives has helped level the playing field for small town SMEs. The 63 million micro, small and medium enterprises in India are considered the backbone of the economy.

In India, millions of small businesses use Meta applications to launch direct-to-consumer (D2C) commerce journeys. In 2020, Meta announced grants for small businesses in five cities as part of its $100 million global grant to help small businesses access timely credit.

To go further, Meta launched the Small Business Lending Initiative in 2021, which enabled business lending through third-party lending platforms for small business Meta advertisers.

Helping Small Town SMEs Reach the World

These growing SMEs can now access new funding, find growth opportunities and reach additional customers, driving innovation and economic growth through platforms such as Facebook and Instagram and apps such as WhatsApp.

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

Often wearing a saree as she managed her husband’s medical practice in Raipur, she found the process and time involved in packing a saree to be cumbersome and time-consuming. By adapting a few of her sarees to wrap skirts, she was now able to drape her saree in seconds. Her research revealed that many young women in India did not wear sarees due to the cumbersome process, a market gap she could fill. The idea and his creations became an instant hit with his friends and family, and so Isadora Life was born in 2019.

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

Empowering D2C business growth journeys

Over the past two years, India has seen a surge in direct-to-consumer businesses. When Aditi Satnaliwala Returning to India after graduating abroad, she desperately missed the coffee culture prevalent in the West. Its aim to make the coffee experience at home in India more interesting led it to launch Country Bean in 2017. From instant coffee flavors, Country Bean has expanded to glasses, milk frothers, chocolate spreads, coffee and other products to make the home coffee experience more like a cafe. What began as a start-up home-based business quickly gained recognition in the Indian instant coffee market, which is dominated by international coffee brands.

Country Bean was focused on direct-to-consumer sales before the term “D2C” became popular. They have used Instagram extensively to build the brand and attract potential customers across India, with Facebook serving as an international storefront. Additionally, WhatsApp helped provide quick and easy customer service. Over the past three years, there has been a compound annual growth rate of 149%.

The meta apps have helped enable them to connect with coffee lovers across the country and grow the brand from a local brand in Kolkata to a national brand today.

Supporting the next generation of female entrepreneurs

Interestingly, there has been an increase in female entrepreneurs in the space, with 20

% of SMEs now owned by women. That figure has jumped nearly 7% over the past 10 years, according to an online article from a Business World publication.

This trend is also reflected on Meta platforms. In India, more than 60% of Instagram businesses that identify as female-owned have been established since the start of the pandemic. Nearly 50% of women-led businesses on Facebook have also been created since the start of the pandemic.

When Ahana Gautam launched healthy snacks company Open Secret, she found that India was snacking more and looking for healthier options during the pandemic. And Open Secret aimed to provide mothers in India with more nutritious yet appealing snack options for their children. The pandemic has caused Indian consumers to shift virtually all of their needs online, which is why Open Secret has maintained online and offline distribution channels while pursuing a digital-first marketing and sales approach.

Ahana said they had doubled in size from the previous year, with much of that increase coming from the internet. By enabling businesses to connect with health-conscious consumers, especially mothers, across India, Meta apps have played a crucial role in their online expansion. In fact, 60% of their purchases come from outside major cities, and apps like Instagram help them increase their visibility in those markets. Through direct communication with the customer, WhatsApp helped build a stronger connection with them. Over the next year, it is expected to grow and increase at a rate five times higher.

If you want to learn more about the journey of small businesses across all industries and geographies, and what Meta apps can do for you, be sure to check out the Summit Grow Your Business on August 30 at 11 a.m..

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