Google on Wednesday announced new initiatives to support small retail businesses and offered 1,000 scholarships to business owners in Africa.
Juliet Ehimuan, Google Country Director for West Africa, said in a statement that it was part of a month-long commemoration of International Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Businesses (SMB) Day in June.
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Ehimuan said the programmes commemorating the International SMB Day reaffirms Google’s dedication to ensuring that small retail businesses on the continent acquire the necessary digital technology, tools and training to thrive and be more resilient.
She said this includes a one-hour virtual training event, tagged: the ‘Shopping Small Business Summit’, aimed at helping SMB owners develop skills and tools to compete online.
She said that topics would include e-commerce trends and digital marketing, open to all who register at g.co/events/shoppingmail.
According to her, Google has also partnered with Coursera, a well-known open online course provider, to develop an online career certificate digital marketing and e-commerce for SMEs, and is offering 1,000 scholarships to Africans who wish to attend.
“E-commerce presents an opportunity for small businesses in Africa to reach new customers and grow.
“Through the digital marketing, e-commerce career certificates, specialised trainings and 1,000 scholarships, we want to be able to assist small businesses in Africa gain the expertise to connect online, expand their customer base and scale-up.
“The certificate course is the latest in a series of initiatives aimed at preparing participants for entry-level jobs,’’ she said.
According to her, this month also sees the debut of ‘Local Opportunity Finder’, a new tool that evaluates a Google Business Profile and makes personalised recommendations for changes.
Ehimuan said that the tool evaluates changes or recommendations that a business owner might make to enhance how their business profile looks to consumers in Google Search.
The director also said that the free, one-week-long Hustle Academy in June would focus on essential skills that would help small and medium-sized retail businesses (SMBs) build the skills they need to grow.
According to her, Africa’s growing young population and urbanisation present huge expansion opportunities for small retail businesses.
Ehimuan said that wholesale and retail were the third-largest contributors to Nigeria’s GDP, with more than 90 per cent of the industry made up of informal merchants.