Google has set up a digital hub providing free tools and resources to businesses and individuals.
The hub will give 500 000 small businesses help to get online or improve their digital presence through Google My Business (GMB), it announced on Tuesday.
The aim is to help businesses, job seekers, educational institutions to rebuild and recover from the impact of the Covid-19 crisis locally and across the continent. Initiatives will address the need for funding, training and services across identified sectors, including support for 500 000 small businesses and 25 000 teachers.
"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 this initiative," explains Google South Africa country director Alistair Mokoena.
During webinar Mokoena pointed out that about half of the employment in South Africa is provided by SMEs. "Our research shows there is a need for access to customers, access to tools and services and access to finance."
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. 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.
In an effort to help job seekers acquire new skills while they look for opportunities, Google is providing underserved communities and job seekers with R12.5 million 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 personalised 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. Google aims to give 25 000 educators access to free online training sessions and resources, such as Teach From Anywhere.
To provide assistance to vulnerable populations, Google.org has set aside R50 million in grants to non-profits that support education, entrepreneurship and women empowerment across Africa. An additional R8.3 million grant is going to Youth Employment Services.