Facebook India Head explains 3 ways that Indian tech startups need to transform

Ajit Mohan, Facebook India Managing Director, at Huddle Kerala todayBusiness Insider India
  • Facebook India’s Managing Director, Ajit Mohan, highlights three ways that technology startups in India need to transform.
  • Bridging the gender divide, expanding financial inclusion and focusing on job creation is how startups can help the Indian economy hit its goal of $5 trillion.
  • Tech giants, like Facebook, can play their part by directly investing in technology startups.

Ajit Mohan, the Managing Director of Facebook India, was a part of Hotstar’s growth story, seven years back.

Having been a part of the start-up economy, Mohan believes that its time for them to create an impact after an explosion in connectivity and Internet users.

"I would suggest that a company like Facebook and my colleagues at IAMAI will now have to fundamentally shift to say — let’s show the goods to drive real impact," stated Mohan at the Huddle Kerala startup event.
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He highlighted three ways in which he thinks that technology start ups can transform — bridging the gender divide, bringing about financial inclusion, and focusing on job creation.

Bringing more women online

In India, only 30-35% of the connected population is women. The World Economic Forum as estimated that the country can add up to $770 billion to its GDP by 2025, by providing opportunities for women — especially in the technology industry.

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"It can be a massive lever for opening up opportunities," said Mohan.

According to him, one of the biggest barriers to women coming online are safety and privacy concerns. In a lot of places, men even serve as gatekeepers to women accessing the Internet.

"I think all of this means that, in terms of the products we design and how we think about the ecosystem, we now have to put the agenda of breaking the gender divide front and center," explained Mohan.

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Financial inclusion

Financial inclusion is a key indicator of development and India has made considerable progress over the past few years — but it still has a long way to go.

"It’s very clear that there’s an opportunity to bring the unbanked into the financial services flows in a way that was not cost effective for financial institutions three years ago," said Mohan.

According to him, this doesn’t only pertain to consumers in Tier II and Tier III cities but also to the unconnected in urban areas. People who are not yet a part of the financial net are an untapped resource for the Indian economy’s goal to hit $5 trillion.
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"A big boost would just be making sure the startup ecosystem is able to introduce a whole new segment of consumers," explained Mohan.

Honing in on job creation through entrepreneurship

Unemployed is a growing problem in India and startups could be one possible solution to ease the pressure. Job creation from small businesses saw a growth of 13.9% over the last four years, according to a CII survey.

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And within the spectrum of small businesses, startups are ‘critical’, according to Mohan. The industry as a whole and tech giants individually, including Facebook, need to contribute to the concept of entrepreneurship.

"Any analysis of any economy, anywhere around the world, including large economies like the US and Europe, the one clear signal is that most of the job creation happens from small businesses," explained Mohan.

What is Facebook doing?

Mohan said that Facebook is doing its part by showing a willingness to make direct investments in startups.
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Earlier this year, the company invested in Meesho, which allows women entrepreneurs to pitch products to their friends and family.

Facebook is also using Spark Augmented Reality to help developers create new solutions, which Mohan believes has the potential for multiple use cases.

"Overall point is, there is now a willingness to invest in tech startups," said Mohan.
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