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India could become world’s largest economy: Sheryl Sandberg

Facebook COO voices high hopes for India.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sherly Sandberg said that India has the potential to become the world’s largest economy, and that the key to becoming so lies in harnessing the power of the country’s Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs).

Speaking with the Press Trust of India, Sandberg said that India’s SMBs have the potential to create jobs and a significant amount of economic growth, which could skyrocket the country’s $2 trillion economy into the stratosphere and make it an even larger player on the world stage.

“Individuals are creating businesses and employing other people, and in India, the SMB growth is strong,” said Sandberg. 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.”

Currently, India’s SMBs and micro-businesses contribute only about 8% of the country’s total GDP. But they are far more impactful in the realms of manufacturing output and exports, contributing 45% and 40% to each of those spheres, respectively. SMBs are already making good on the employment promise, having hired close to 60 million people over the last several years.

Sandberg also revealed that about 900,000 SMBs based in India, out of the roughly 26.1 million there are in total, have a presence on Facebook. That number represents only about 3.4%, but Sandberg expects that number to increase as more Indians adopt mobile devices and Internet usage, in addition to the number of SMBs themselves growing.

Studies have already shown that India will overtake the US in total number of Facebook users by the end of 2015. Although India is still #2, with about 100 million users, its rate of growth is astronomically higher than that of the US.

“Facebook is the communication to grow economies and we are pretty important in growing small businesses. Facebook is interested in the intersection of the Internet, the people and the government and wants to work on bringing a billion people in India online,” Sandberg told PTI.

Sandberg has a storied resume to her name, giving her statements about India’s economic potential a good deal of weight.

She completed her undergraduate education at Harvard, and also earned her M.B.A from there. She was Chief of Staff to Treasury Secretary Larry Summers during the Bill Clinton Presidency, and was formerly an employee of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and McKinsey & Company. Her estimated net worth is nearly $1 billion.