Google announced 1,000 scholarships to enable small retail business-owners in Kenya to open online shops to market their wares and services.
The development was announced as part of a month-long commemoration of International Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Businesses (SMBs) Day this month.
Google said it had partnered with Coursera, an open online course provider, to develop an online career certificate course in digital marketing and e-commerce targeting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The certificate course is the latest in a series of initiatives aimed at preparing participants for entry-level jobs.
“E-commerce presents an opportunity for small businesses in Kenya to reach new customers and grow. Through the digital marketing and e-commerce career certificates, and specialized training to our 1,000 SMB scholarship beneficiaries, we want to assist small businesses in Africa gain the expertise to connect online, expand their customer base and scale up,” says Agnes Gathaiya, Google Country Director for Kenya and East Africa.
E-commerce markets in Kenya and Nigeria increased by 40 percent and 30 percent, respectively, in 2021, while online sales in South Africa increased by 66 percent from 2019 to 2020, reaching more than $1.8 billion.
“As more consumers on the continent continue to search for goods and services online, it is critical that small retail businesses learn how to better harness online tools for growth,” Ms Gathaiya adds.
This month also sees the debut of Local Opportunity Finder, a new tool that evaluates a Google Business Profile and makes personalized recommendations for changes that a business owner may make on how their business profile looks to consumers in Google Search.
Another initiative underway this June is the free, one-week-long Hustle Academy that will equip small and medium-sized retail businesses (SMBs) with essential skills they need to grow.
Kenya, with an e-commerce market growth rate of 44 percent in 2021, has seen a steady rise in the number of online outlets over the last five years with South Africa having almost 2,000 shopping malls covering over 24 million square metres.
Wholesale and retail are the third largest contributors to Nigeria’s GDP, with more than 90 percent of the industry made up of informal merchants.
Africa’s growing young population and urbanization present huge expansion opportunities for small retail businesses.
Google’s ongoing commitment to supporting small businesses in Africa is visible through initiatives such as Google Hustle Academy, Google Business Profile, Market Finder and Market Kit.
Just the other day, Sendy opened a program named Google Hustle Academy that seeks to offer MSMEs across Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa with expert training on business strategy & development, digital marketing, and financial planning.
The programs commemorating International SMB Day this month reaffirm 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.