Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the heart of the UK’s economy and create the majority of new jobs in the UK — and Facebook is empowering many of them to grow their business. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) says that last year alone, SMEs accounted for more than 99 per cent of all private sector businesses in Britain, 60 per cent of private sector employment, and 51 per cent of all private sector turnover.
Millions of SMEs are already using Facebook and its family of apps to get started, grow, trade and recruit. Facebook has a responsibility towards these businesses, says Ciaran Quilty, its vice-president for small businesses in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, to support their growth further, because when local businesses grow, they hire more people and strengthen communities. “Discovering and connecting consumers with businesses that they care about is a fundamental part of the Facebook experience,” Quilty says.
Facebook knows that it’s not just enough to support business growth, however: when local businesses expand, the people with digital skills are in the highest demand.
Facebook Community Boost
That’s why this year, through its global Community Boost programme, Facebook has committed to training a million people in Europe in digital skills by 2020.
More than 1,000 entrepreneurs are expected to attend a Community Boost event in London on Tuesday 13 and Wednesday 14 November. Quilty says: “We recognise we have a bigger responsibility to society and the communities we work in. That’s why we invest in programmes such as Community Boost, designed to help people get together, connect and invest in building the digital skills essential to the economy’s future.”
Connecting women is a priority. More than 1,000 businesses are created in Britain annually, but last year just 19 per cent of SMEs were led by women. This spurred Facebook to create #SheMeansBusiness — an initiative aimed at helping more women take their business ideas forward. Facebook research found women entrepreneurs who are in business communities are twice as likely to expect growth than those who are not, yet half are not in any networks.
A network to share experiences
Since 2016, about 13,000 women have been supported by Facebook and its partners — FSB, Enterprise Nation and AllBright — in starting or growing a business. Quilty says: “#SheMeansBusiness is a thriving network where women connect, share experiences, skills training and tools through a combination of in-person meet-ups and online communities.”
Acquiring knowledge and skills are not the only challenges. SMEs’ biggest problems are winning new customers, making the most of limited time and generating cashflow quickly, according to Facebook research. Quilty says Facebook helps firms overcome these through its advertising, training and other services, used by more than 80 million SMEs globally. When surveyed, roughly 55 per cent of SMEs who used Facebook said they had increased sales because of the platform, and that it had helped them sell products in other cities and countries. Half said they had hired more employees as a result of joining the platform.
“Today there are around 375 million people outside of the UK connected to businesses in the UK via Facebook,” adds Quilty. “The ability to export and reach these people across borders, is really powerful. It’s a massive driver of jobs and therefore it can support Britain’s economic growth.”
Facebook Community Boost is coming to London on a mission to enhance your digital skills, expand your network and grow your business with a two-day event on 13 and 14 November.