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Facebook: A Blessing and a Challenge to Micro-enterprises

By Anika Tabasum Barsha

· Social Entrep,Startup,Technology

With the blessing of internet accessibility, Facebook has become a great platform for those who are interested in doing small to medium businesses through social media. Through the platform, many micro entrepreneurs are able to reach out to their audience which is inspiring others to venture into their own businesses in the platform. This it is no exception for those living in countries across the Asia-Pacific (APAC).

In 2017, a survey by the Morning Consult in collaboration with Facebook, observed the platforms’s impact on small to medium sized businesses. They found that, 58% of these businesses built their business on the platform. 85% of them believe the Facebook helps them to attract customers. In one of Facebook Business’s success stories, Sasa Sushi a restaurant built in Japan’s smallest area, is now able to attract more than half of its new customers through the advertisements done by their Facebook Page.

According to a recent study, 67% of small to medium businesses that grew in Facebook from APAC countries, are now able to hire more employees for the boost and growth they witnessed due to joining Facebook. For the constant success of the micro entrepreneurs, Facebook has been investing a lot on technology, tools, and training in order to develop small entrepreneurs and boost their businesses. Recently, Facebook has planned to invest $1 billion in programs for small businesses in 2018. Several programs such as Boost Your Business, SheMeansBusiness have trained more than 70,000 entrepreneurs from APAC.

Facebook Programs

The tool Boost Your Business introduced by Facebook Business has become most popular among the entrepreneurs who use Facebook for their businesses. By clicking the boost post button, the post can reach out to their target audiences which will cost them $10. The person posting can choose their desired target audience. Facebook Business provides free e-learning courses on best practices in terms of advertisement in Facebook and Instagram so that people can learn how to maximize the use of Facebook.

Another feature SheMeansBusiness was launched in March 2016 by Clair Deevy who is the Head of Community Affairs for Facebook APAC. The feature brought positive changes to the lives of women from the APAC region who want to be entrepreneurs and want to scale up their businesses. Through their microsite, this feature provides online/offline training and necessary tools to women micro entrepreneurs. Deevy said she saw a 94% increase in the new women-owned small to medium business Facebook pages in Asia Pacific in 2016.

A New Challenge for the Local Economy?

As the economy is getting digitalized and businesses are growing through online platforms, local spending has been declining dramatically.. A recent Forbes survey revealed that retail witnessed a 2% gain in revenue sales while online sales growth ranged between 15 to 19%. This is clearly hurting the local economy.

Individuals from developing countries in the APAC region for example, are mostly dependent on their local businesses. A majority are not knowledgeable and can afford required resources in order to set up their businesses in an online platform. As a result, they are facing tremendous risks as they are losing customers. Local employment from specific regions might slow down. If in the future, local markets shut their businesses down, it too will hurt the government as they are a great source of tax revenue.

Another challenge that the micro entrepreneurs face while using the Facebook features is that, the features are not quite free. Michelle Allen, co-owner of three Edible Arrangement stores in North Carolina says, she has to pay $10 to boost a post but still cannot get the desired outcomes that Facebook promised. From this scenario, people with little knowledge and resources might face challenges while using the features. As a result, the local markets and retailers might face shortage of revenue which threatens their business and the local economy.

Online businesses indeed brought enormous positive outcomes to new micro entrepreneurs. It has allowed them to gain trusted customers and helped them to generate more employment. Overall, it has led to the stability of their businesses. But on the other hand, the local retailers might face enormous challenges if they cannot compete with that. These shortcomings need to be addressed and the world needs to emphasize more on local investments in order to have a bright future for the local economy.

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