After Google, which started targeting small businesses in India with its ‘India Get Your Business Online‘ initiative, it seems like Facebook has also jumped into the fray by partnering with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) to extend its global Small and Medium Business (SMB) Boost programme to India and provide Indian Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with educational resources, tutorials and free advertising on their platform, for business promotion and consumer outreach.

Under this initiative, Facebook will run a series of ‘Facebook for Business’ tutorials’ at FICCI tradeshows and conferences, allowing businesses to receive hands-on training on how they could use Facebook to create an online presence, build and maintain a Facebook Page, engage Facebook users and gain customers through Facebook’s global user base. Participating SME’s will also get an SMB Boost voucher, which will provide them with free advertising credit on Facebook. The company has not specified the total sum that it intends to invest in the program or the value of ad credits.

What is Facebook’s Small Business Boost program? In September 2011, Facebook had partnered with National Federation of Independent Business and U.S. Chamber of Commerce to launch a new marketing initiative called Small Business Boost, which it launched in January 2012, offering $10 million worth of free advertising credits to around 200,000 local businesses via $50 ad credits each. Although one of the pre-requisites for businesses to participate in this program was a Facebook page for their business page with at least 50 likes.

Facebook offered another $100 ad credit for pages that gained 100 new Likes during the program period and ran a contest to offer $10,000 ad credit each, for the top 10 businesses with most number of new fans during the program period. To enable businesses to grow their business and use the pages effectively, the social networking giant also offered tutorials and resources on their site.

That being said, we are not quite sure if Facebook’s partnership with FICCI is on the same lines.

Why is Facebook Targeting SMBs?

Apart from strengthening its presence in the country, Facebook may be doing this for the following reasons

Growing its ads business: Facebook will be able to gain a significant amount of potential advertisers through this initiative. If SME’s see a good return from these ads, its quite possible that they will continue or increase advertising on the platform. It’s worth noting that 85% of the company’s revenues is currently generated from advertising.

Counter Competition: While Google currently dominates both the Indian advertising market and search, Facebook had announced during its IPO filing, that India has been a key source of growth with a 132% growth in userbase last year. Through this initiative, Facebook will hopefully be able to gain the attention of Indian businesses, which have been skeptical about Facebook advertising and make a  dent into Google’s market share.

In November 2011, Google had partnered with HostGator to launch a similar initiative called India Get Your Business Online which offered free websites, domain & hosting services to small medium businesses in India. Under this initiative, Google offered a .in domain name free for 1 year and HostGator offered free support in creating, hosting and managing the website for a period of one year. The company had announced that it intended to enable 500,000 small medium businesses in India get online in next three years through the program.