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How Facebook is Growing Small Businesses

Facebook is fuelling Canadian small businesses by attracting new customers and scaling through platform advertising, according to its latest Economic Impact Survey.

A decade ago, Facebook was designed for friends and family to connect in a digital space, but Kevin Chan, the head of Canadian public policy, said it has evolved beyond a social network.

“It’s now an engine of economic growth for small businesses and startups,” he said. Chan presented the results of the Facebook survey at the launch of BDC’s Small Business Week 2017 in Toronto.

The survey found that three in 10 Canadian-grown small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have built their business on the platform. In addition, one in two businesses who are on Facebook said they’re stronger today because of the platform.

Facebook is also being used to attract customers—according to nearly 7 in 10 Canadian small and medium-sized businesses surveyed—and reach customers outside the country.

Chan said that Facebook is increasing global market access to small businesses—a reach that was once exclusive to large enterprises. He reported that 445 million people around the world are connected to Canadian small businesses through the online platform.

The survey release coincided with Facebook unveiling its new Toronto Partner Centre connected to its MaRS office. The centre is a space for Facebook to collaborate with its Canadian partners.

Toronto Mayor John Tory was at the event today, remarking how a digital presence can be the “difference between survival and failure” for small businesses today, but many business owners still don’t have the comfort level to move to a digital platform. He said that Facebook’s new Partner Centre will be a space where they can learn how to go online, and find the tools that they need to sell more at home and abroad.

“Facebook helps SMEs scale so much faster,” said Joanna Griffiths, CEO of Knixwear. “Today, a Knixwear product is bought every 25 seconds.”

Griffiths spoke about how she’s leveraged Facebook and Instagram in a panel moderated by Small Business and Tourism Minister Bardish, alongside Clearbanc co-founder Michele Romanow and Steve Ballantyne, founder of Toronto-based Station Cold Brew.

Knixwear is one company that’s part of Facebook Canada’s e-commerce vertical, a growth team that identifies companies that can scale internationally and provides them support.

“Facebook is helping us get our product in front of the right people—hyper-targeted in who we want to reach—and in a very cost-effective way, scale our business at a very rapid rate,” said Griffiths. “You get great insight into the people you’re targeting. It’s helping us reach a new audience of women.”

Through the Toronto Partner Centre, small businesses will be invited in for one-on-one meetings, education sessions and community events to learn about how they can leverage Facebook to grow. Interactive screens, commissioned artwork, breakout rooms and open meeting spaces make up the new Toronto centre in MaRS Discovery District, joining five other Partner Centres around the world.

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