Google on Tuesday announced plans to help businesses, job seekers, educational institutions and vulnerable population begin to rebuild and recover from the impact of the COVID-19 crisis locally and across the continent.
Google Nigeria Country Director, Juliet Ehimuan, said at Google Economic Recovery Virtual Roundtable that the economic recovery plan was in partnership with Federal Ministry of Youths and Sport.
The country director said that the tech company’s initiatives would address the need for funding, training and services across identified sectors, including support for 500,000 SMBs and 25,000 teachers.
Ehimuan said that the economic recovery plan was support for vulnerable populations, education, and business to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic
She said that this support included a partnership with the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to provide support for youth-owned SMBs.
According to her, it will also provide support for jobseekers in Nigeria to help them acquire marketable skills through certification and training programmes, and involve supporting programmes that enable and improve access to quality education across the region.
‘’Google 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.
“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.
‘’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.
Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde, Head, Brand Reputation, Google Africa, said that to provide assistance to vulnerable populations, Google.org has set aside $3 million in grants to support education, entrepreneurship and women empowerment across Africa.
Aderemi-Makinde said that $500,000 of that was going towards a grant to the Praekelt Foundation (a software development non-profit that builds open-source, scalable mobile technologies and solutions).
She said it is to improve the health and wellbeing of underprivileged people in order to help train micro and small businesses in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.
According to her, 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.
She said that job seekers could 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.
Aderemi-Makinde said for educational institutions and teachers, Google was 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.
She said that 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 organizations in Nigeria which are developing programs and tools to boost literacy for children in low-income schools in the country. ‘’
Aderemi-Makinde said that Google was also launching a new Marketing Kit tool to help people to put together marketing kits for their businesses with the free Market Finder tool.
According to her, 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.
Responding to the partnership, Mr Sunday Dare, Minister of Youth and Sports Development, said governent was focused on creating an enabling environment that promotes youth and economic development in Nigeria.
Dare said that this partnership with Google in Nigeria was critical at this period and looked forward to the positive impact it would have on SMBs’ recovery, enhancing the skills of jobseekers and supporting the education sector.
The minister said that one of the abiding lessons of COVID-19 was the importance and dominance of technology.
According to him, this Google partnership comes at time most appropriate to help ratchet up support for our enterprising youth across Nigeria.
‘’This Google partnership comes at time most appropriate to help ratchet up support for our enterprising youth across Nigeria and I am certain Nigeria youth will take full advantage of this opportunity.
“We are focused on creating an enabling environment that promotes youth and social development in Nigeria,’’ the minister said.
According to him, we look forward to seeing the positive impact it will have on SMBs’ recovery, enhancing the skills of jobseekers and improving the digital effectiveness of the education sector.