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Small businesses, job seekers to get post-COVID-19 support as Google unveils initiatives

… Partners Nigeria’s ministry of youth and sports development for scalability … To support teachers, organisations boosting children’s literacy with grants

As businesses try to regain balance following economic disruptions causes by the COVID-19 pandemic, Google today announced plans to help businesses, job seekers, educational institutions and vulnerable populations as they try to rebuild and recover from the impacts of the pandemic.

500,000 small businesses across sub-Saharan Africa are to benefit from funding, training and services across identified sectors, while 25,000 teachers will get access to free online training sessions and resources to boost their capacities.

In executing its plans in Nigeria, Google has also partnered with Nigeria’s Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to provide support for youth-owned small businesses. The partnership is also expected to provide jobseekers in Nigeria with support in acquiring marketable skills through certification and training programs.

“We are focused on creating an enabling environment that promotes youth and social 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 improving the digital effectiveness of the education sector,” said Sunday Dare, Minister of Youth and Sports Development during an online briefing hosted by Google.

Google also says it has set up a digital hub that provides 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,” said Juliet Ehimuan, Google Nigeria country director. “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.”

To provide assistance to vulnerable populations, Google.org has set aside $3 million in grants to nonprofits that support education, entrepreneurship and women empowerment across Africa.

Out of this, $500,000 will go towards a grant for the Praekelt Foundation in order to help train micro and small businesses in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. The foundation is a software development non-profit that builds open-source, scalable mobile technologies and solutions to improve the health and wellbeing of underprivileged people.

It was also stated that as part of efforts 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.

Furthermore, 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 says it 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.

“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.

As Dare noted, an important lesson of the COVID-19 pandemic is the importance and dominance of technology, where Nigerian youths are quite active. “This Google partnership comes at a time most appropriate to help ratchet up support for our enterprising youth across Nigeria”.

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