India, an emerging global economic power, has the potential to become the largest economy in the world, Facebook chief operating officer (COO) Sheryl Sandberg said today.
Sandberg, who served as chief of staff for the US Treasury Department under President Bill Clinton, said the over $2 trillion Indian economy has immense potential to create jobs and drive growth, especially with its huge base of small and medium businesses (SMBs).
“India has the potential to become the largest economy in the world. And if you look at economic growth, particularly recently, jobs is a very hard situation all over the world. From the US to developing markets, everyone is very concerned about jobs.”
“And majority of the growth, as I understand it, is certainly here, certainly in the US. In most countries, I have visited, SMBs are the way to growth,” she told PTI.
Explaining further, Sandberg, whose previous stint was as Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google, said “the answer to growth is entrepreneurship”.
“Individuals are creating businesses and employing other people, and in India, the SMB growth is strong. And Internet provides more growth stories to SMBs. People are connecting to people and getting more customers and that’s what leads to economic growth,” she added.
Micro, small and medium businesses contribute nearly 8% of India’s GDP, 45% of the manufacturing output and 40% of exports.
The sector is estimated to have given employment to about 595 lakh people in over 261 lakh such enterprises throughout the country.
India, which is considered as one of the fastest growing economies in the world, saw its growth rate plummeting to less than 5% in the last two years.
However, the industry is hopeful of a rebound with a new stable government led by prime minister Narendra Modi, who is widely perceived as a pro-business leader.
Modi had also said recently that there is a need to administer “bitter medicine” to revive the ailing economy.
The International Monetary Fund has projected a growth rate of 6.4% next year, in line with the gradual strengthening of global markets.
Reminiscing her association with India, the former management consultant with McKinsey & Company and an economist with the World Bank said she started her career in India in 1981 working with the World Bank on Leprosy.
“And now when I look at leprosy, it’s no longer a threat here. The way I see it, India has grown so much in the past two decades,” she added. Sandberg said Facebook wants to be a part of the growth story in India, which is on the cusp of leapfrogging ahead in economic as well as social development.
India has the world’s third largest Internet userbase with over 200 million users, most of whom are logging onto the web using their mobile phones.
“India is Facebook’s second largest market, fastest growing market, fastest growing Internet connectivity in APAC. It is of high priority for us,” Sandberg said.
According to research firm eMarketer India, which has the highest number of Facebook users outside the US, will account for the fastest growth in people logging on to the social networking platform this year.
Over 100 million Indians are on the California- headquartered firm’s platform, with around 84 million users accessing the social networking site from their mobile devices.