Facebook COO Sandberg endorses Modi-led growth story

Joining the business optimism about the Narendra Modi-led Indian government, Facebook's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said in Hyderabad today that India has the potential to become an economic powerhouse.

Facebook COO Sheryl SandbergSandberg, a technocrat who served as chief of staff to the US Treasury Department under President Bill Clinton, said that the Indian economy has immense potential to create jobs and drive growth, especially with its huge base of small and medium businesses.

"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," Sandberg 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 eight per cent of India's GDP, 45 per cent of the manufacturing output and 40 per cent of Indian exports.

Reflecting on 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 user base 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