Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp has announced its partnership with India's official investment promotion agency, Invest India, to launch 'WhatsApp Startup Challenge' to help the growth of startups and SMBs in India. The program will focus on the proliferation of startups, promoting economic growth and generating employment opportunities in India, announced Ministry of Commerce & Industry, today.

According to Startup India, this is one of the largest partnerships Invest India has made till date.

WhatsApp will invest quarter of a million dollars ($250,000) as seed funding to the top 5 winners of the 'WhatsApp Startup Challenge' and an additional $250,000 will be directed to a select few from the entrepreneurial community to promote their WhatsApp business number on Facebook and drive discovery of their businesses. This way customers will be able to find the business and start talking to them on that WhatsApp number.Invest India is also working with WhatsApp to drive awareness about its business tools in around 15 states impacting over 60,000 businesses in the coming months through tools such as Startup India 'Yatra' program and other in-person training events.

Commenting on the partnership, Mr. Chris Daniels, Vice President, WhatsApp said that India has a great ecosystem of startups which are making huge impact in all sectors of the Indian economy. Mr. Daniels further said that small and medium businesses are the back bone of India’s economy, employing 100 million people and contributing to a 3rd India’s GDP. WhatsApp cares deeply about helping businesses connect with customers and grow. The more opportunities that are given the more startups will become engines of India’s economic growth.

India's Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu, who were also present in the launch, said that WhatsApp is a startup that has grown into a community and is an example of how an idea can grow to become an integral part of our day to day life. The Minister went on to say that Indian startups in order to be successful have to learn to convert an idea into a business plan. He further said that the Startup community is the future of India and will be the platform through which the millions of youth of this country will be gain fully employed.

Launched on 16th January 2016 by the Prime Minister of India, Startup India, set-up under Invest India, is a flagship initiative of the Government of India and is intended to build a strong eco-system for nurturing innovation & Startups in the country that will drive sustainable economic growth and generate large scale employment opportunities.

In the last 2 years at the Startup India programme, there are over 13,000 startups registered with Startup India program that spread across 448 districts covering all 29 States and 6 Union Territories.

Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ramesh Abhishek and CEO & MD of Invest India, Deepak Bagla, were also present on the occasion.

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