Use of digital tools critical to SMB operations during pandemic, says Meta exec
July 02 2022 08:18 PM
Meta regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, Fares Akkad. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Meta regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, Fares Akkad. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam

As an integral element of their operations, 74% of small and medium businesses (SMBs) in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region have utilised digital tools to overcome the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, an official of Meta has said.
In a speech during the recent launching of the ‘Meta Boost’ programme in Qatar, Meta regional director for the Middle East and North Africa Fares Akkad said: “Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve been running the largest small business surveys in the world.”
According to Akkad, Meta used the data to better understand the evolving needs of SMBs, especially as it relates to online tools and challenges brought on by the pandemic.
“We released our latest State of Small Business report, which shows digital tools remain critical to SMB operations…81% of SMBs in this most recent global sample indicated that they had used digital tools in the last month, including 74% of SMBs in Mena. And 31% of global SMBs reported more than half of their sales took place online, including 26% of Mena respondents,” Akkad said.
Akkad said helping SMBs thrive and grow is a top priority for Meta, which is especially focused on helping SMBs make the transition online. In partnership with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), Meta launched ‘Meta Boost’, a global programme designed to support and accelerate the digitisation of SMBs in Qatar.
“For the first time in Qatar, we will be launching a Meta SMB hub dedicated to the community of businesses in Qatar. The hub will feature a series of training webinars and resources to learn about the essentials of digital marketing and sales. It will also showcase local case studies and success stories to drive inspiration.
“Meta’s Blueprint Bootcamp will include a series of live trainer-led webinars for digitally inclined SMBs to advance their presence online and accelerate their business growth. This will be a great opportunity for SMBs in Qatar to spend time and connect with Meta experts,” Akkad emphasised.
In an earlier statement, the ministry said MCIT and Meta entered into a partnership to support MCIT’s vision of transforming Qatar into a digitally-enabled knowledge economy.
As part of this partnership, the ministry will explore opportunities for collaboration with Meta covering key areas like community upskilling, SME digitisation, and economic support. The ministry strives to foster a human-centric vision for the digital economy and society, making digital transformation a fully-inclusive and transformative process for all businesses – from the small to the enterprise.
Akkad also said Meta’s work to support SMBs is focused on three areas: free tools, training, and cash and marketing support. “Meta has a number of tools across Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp to help businesses create an online presence and connect with customers for free,” he pointed out.
He added: “Meta offers hundreds of free digital training and resources to help SMBs establish their presence and grow on our platforms…in the early days of the pandemic, Meta provided cash grants and ad credits to SMBs to help them keep the lights on. All of this and more is core to our company principle to promote economic opportunity and helps to illustrate our commitment to SMBs and their success.”

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