Tech giant, Google, has unveiled plans to help businesses, job seekers, educational institutions and vulnerable populations as they grapple with the "new normal" and begin to rebuild and recover from the impact of the COVID-19 crisis locally and across the continent.
The tech company’s initiatives will address the need for funding, training and services across identified sectors, including support for 500,000 SMBs and 25,000 teachers.
This support includes a partnership with the Nigerian Ministry of Youth and Sports Development. The partnership will provide support for youth-owned SMBs. It will also provide support for job seekers in Nigeria to help them acquire marketable skills through certification and training programs, and involve supporting programs that enable and improve access to quality education across the region.
The company in a statement said it has set up a digital hub providing free tools and resources to businesses and individuals. “Through the hub, 500,000 small businesses will receive help getting online or improving their digital presence through Google My Business (GMB) which helps them connect with millions of users every month,” Google stated.
“Small businesses have been hardest hit during this period. Many of them have had to figure out quickly how to pivot their operations to a ‘digital-first’ approach. Yet, there remains a gap between those who can access these online opportunities and those who can’t. That’s the gap we want to bridge with these initiatives,” siad Google Nigeria Country Director Juliet Ehimuan.
“We are focused on creating an enabling environment that promotes youth and economic development in Nigeria. This partnership with Google in Nigeria is critical at this period and we look forward to seeing the positive impact it will have on SMBs’ recovery, enhancing the skills of jobseekers and supporting the education sector,” says the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Nigeria, Sunday Dare.
To provide assistance to vulnerable populations, Google.org has set aside $3 million in grants to non-profits that support education, entrepreneurship and women empowerment across Africa.
$500,000 of that is going towards a grant to the Praekelt Foundation (a software development non-profit that builds open-source, scalable mobile technologies and solutions to improve the health and wellbeing of underprivileged people) in order to help train micro and small businesses in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.
In an effort to help job seekers acquire new skills while they look for opportunities, Google is providing underserved communities and job seekers with $750,000 in IT support scholarships through Google.org across Africa. Job seekers can also access the Grow with Google training portal for help in growing their careers or businesses at their own pace and through flexible and personalized training courses.
For educational institutions and teachers, Google is working with partners across Africa, through Google for Education, to help deploy its suite of education products in schools and help 500,000 students continue learning. To help teachers keep teaching, Google aims to give 25,000 educators access to free online training sessions and resources, such as Teach From Anywhere. Google is also giving a grant of $250,000 to organisations in Nigeria which are developing programmes and tools to boost literacy for children in low-income schools in the country.
Google is also launching a new Marketing Kit tool to help people to put together marketing kits for their businesses while the free Market Finder tool (which includes updated insights for negotiating a COVID and post-COVID environment) is there to help with localisation, international payments and logistics for African businesses looking to reach new customers around the world. Using information from their Google My Business profile the tool helps businesses keep customers informed with their latest news, create custom posters and social posts.
“We will continue to do our part to help businesses recover and grow, help more people prepare for jobs, and support students, teachers and underserved communities. And in so doing, we hope to create real economic opportunity for everyone,” Ehimuan said.