Facebook has unveiled a new campaign to enable small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to do more online as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact revenues.
The social media giant has launched an SMB hub that will offer financial assistance and business advice to small, local businesses via webinars under its #LoveLocal initiative.
Facebook, which has more than 2.6 billion users worldwide, has not revealed the amount of financial aid it would deliver to local companies as part of the campaign.
The global economy is facing the worst recession since the Great Depression and is predicted to collapse 5.2% this year due to the economic effects of the pandemic, according to the World Bank.
According to a survey conducted earlier by Facebook in partnership with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Bank found that more than a quarter of SMBs around the world closed their doors at some point in the first five months of the year due to COVID-19.
SMBs vary from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in terms of employment, with the former mostly dependent on part-time workers or outsourced workers while the latter hiring full-time workers.
Seven out of 10 SMBs reported lower sales in the MENA region, with about 40% of them shrinking their workforce as a result of the pandemic, the report said.
“It is now clear that the only way for SMBs to survive the pandemic is to pivot to digital. Entrepreneurs can register for free online courses to receive insights on Facebook’s services and tools that can help them boost leads and online sales. They can learn how to best use free Facebook and Instagram tools to connect with customers and the business community in these challenging times.”
SMBs using the hub will have free access to nearly 40 webinars covering topics such as digital marketing and e-commerce.
Courses have been developed in partnership with leading Facebook partners and e-commerce companies who belong to the region.
Beirut-based e-commerce platform ecomz, Riyadh-based Zid, an e-commerce management platform and Cairo based Expand Cart collaborated with Facebook for the initiative.
Companies who want to qualify for the grants should be for profit companies with between two and 50 employees and have to be trading for more than a year.
Last month, Facebook had announced that it would give $0.54 million in cash grants and credits to more than 155 Dubai SMBs as part of its $99 million commitment declared in March to support 30,000 SMBs in more than 30 countries.