Google has unpacked its plans to assist startups, SMMEs and nonprofits in South Africa, and help the country’s economic recovery process through large-scale investment.
This follows announcements made in October 2021 by Google and Alphabet chief executive officer Sundar Pichai, who announced a plan to invest $1 billion over five years to support Africa’s digital transformation.
The focus of these investments is to enable fast, affordable internet access for more Africans; build helpful products; support entrepreneurship and small business, and help nonprofits to improve lives across Africa, the group said on Wednesday (9 February).
“As the Covid-19 pandemic enters its third year, these initiatives seek to help alleviate the devastation caused in communities and offer support to organisations that work tirelessly to improve the livelihoods of South Africans.”
Google.org – the charitable arm of Google – will meanwhile award $500,000 in grant funding and training to Gift of the Givers and Food for Life South Africa to support them in their economic recovery.
“To date, 22 South African nonprofit organisations have tapped into $6.5 million in Google.org grants to bolster their work supporting under-served Black youth, SMMEs, and women with skills and knowledge to improve their livelihoods,” said Dr Alistair Mokoena, country director, Google South Africa.
Investing in next-generation entrepreneurs
Google said it is also supportive of the concept that startups have the potential to unlock a myriad of job opportunities for South Africans through innovative thinking and products that seek to solve some of the country’s most pressing needs.
“Through a rigorous and competitive selection process, the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund in Africa Program has selected 50 top Black-led technology startups locally and across the continent to join the program,” it said.
The startups will receive $50 million in funding to help spur their growth as part of a broader Africa Investment Fund plan launched last year.
Another investment priority for Google is the SMME sector. In partnership with the Department of Small Business Development, Google said it wants to provide support, training, and resources to small enterprises through the newly launched ‘Hustle Academy’.
Google said that in the coming months, and in collaboration with Kiva and a local financial service provider, it will disburse $3 million in loans to qualifying small businesses in the country.
The internet and media giant also pointed out that its subsea cable investment, Equiano, is scheduled to land in South Africa later in the year, which will almost triple internet speeds in the country, and reduce connectivity costs.
“We are here for the long-term, and our investments and programmes are geared to support this,” said Mokoena.