Facebook on Friday announced a new programme, the small business loans initiative, to help small and medium businesses (SMBs) in India that advertise on the social media platform to get quick access to credit through independent lending partners.The initiative is open to businesses registered across 200 towns and cities of India, the company said in a statement.The announcement came at a recently held virtual event -- Enabling MSME Growth through Financial Inclusion -- hosted by Facebook India in partnership with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)."Facebook is deeply committed to creating economic opportunities for India's small businesses. Access to timely capital is more important than ever as it can help them jump-start their recovery and drive big growth," said Ajit Mohan, VP and MD Facebook India, in the statement."As a company, we are at the spear end of the digital transformation and we believe that the Small Business Loans Initiative can provide big impetus to early entrepreneurs to fuel their ideas and their appetite for taking risks," he added.
Facebook has also tied-up with lending partner Indifi to help the SMBs get loans at a predefined interest rate of 17-20 per cent per annum, and will not be charged a processing fee, the social media giant said.Many small businesses face challenges in securing loans of lower amounts, but through this programme, SMBs can get loans between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 50 lakh.The new programme will help SMBs to apply for loans without collateral through a quick online application and Indifi will disburse the loan amount within five working days of completing all documentation, the statement said.Further, Facebook is also committed towards women-led businesses in India. Small businesses that are wholly or partly women-owned can get a special 0.2 per cent reduction per annum on the applied loan interest rate from Indifi, it added.The programme is a completely not-for-profit arrangement with Facebook's lending partners and small businesses are not obligated to spend their loan amount on Facebook advertising.Facebook has, in the last one year, taken numerous steps to support the economic recovery of small businesses. These include offering grants to small businesses, and expanding the company's industry-leading skilling initiatives to support the offline to online journeys of small businesses.