Facebook Fuel For India 2020 summit saw Reliance Industries Limited chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani in a freewheeling chat with Facebook cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who spoke about the Facebook-Jio partnership and how this collaboration will work for the Indian tech ecosystem.
In a joint discussion at the virtual event, both of them acknowledged the importance of digitisation of small businesses and how technology can play a pivotal role in India’s digital growth to PM Modi’s Digital India vision.
“At Facebook, we are in the business of serving small businesses. And nowhere is this more true than in India. With more than 60 Mn small businesses and millions of people around the country relying on them for jobs – these small businesses form a big part of what our partnership with Jio can serve here,” said Zuckerberg.
Ambani emphasised how Jio and WhatsApp which partnered up for JioMart can complement each other’s businesses further. Facebook acquired WhatsApp for around $22 Bn in 2014.
“Jio brings digital connectivity, WhatsApp now with WhatsApp Pay brings digital interactivity, and the ability to move to close transactions and create value and JioMart brings the unmatched online and offline retail opportunity, that gives our small shops which exist in villages and small towns in India, a chance to digitise and be at par with anybody else in the world,” Ambani said.
Ambani further said Facebook’s investment in Jio “set the ball rolling” for large foreign direct investment (FDI) into India.
In April, the tech giant invested $5.7 Bn (INR 43,574 Cr) in Reliance Jio. The social media giant has acquired a 9.99% stake in Reliance Jio at a pre-money valuation of $65.95 Bn (INR 4.62 Lakh Cr).
“One of the big opportunities that I see with this Facebook and Jio partnership is the role that we can play together in supporting the millions of small businesses in India, especially now with the impact that COVID is having, in accelerating the move of businesses from physical storefronts to digital ones in this digital future,” Zuckerberg said.
“I firmly believe that technology, with all the steps that India has taken, will democratise wealth and value creation for individuals and small businesses. Through our partnership (Jio Platforms and Facebook), we will become a value creation platform for our customers and small businesses, giving them a chance to digitize and be at par with anybody else in the world,” said Ambani.
Facebook’s investment in Jio had also resulted in a commercial partnership between Reliance Retail and WhatsApp, to help accelerate the grand launch of Jio’s ecommerce platform JioMart.
In 2015, Facebook in partnership with Reliance Communications had also launched Free Basics, a.k.a. Internet.org.
Facebook’s campaign in India comes at a time when the platform seems to be caught in a number of controversies.
The social media giant has been criticised lately for being two-faced as it did not any action against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-affiliated Bajrang Dal for violating its policies on hate speech. It got into trouble over posts on the Delhi riots. Also, Facebook India’s policy head Ankhi Das, who ultimately resigned in October, was accused of not applying hate speech rules to posts by BJP members. In August, Das had to offer an apology to its Muslim employees for a post she had shared last year, which was considered Islamophobic.