BY: ONOME AMUGE
African women entrepreneurs are to receive a boost from Google, the multinational technology company, which is committing $1 million through its philanthropic arm, Google.org, in charitable funding to support programmes helping women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, as part of a series of new initiatives aimed at supporting women-owned businesses.
Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde, head of brand and reputation, Africa Google, said research shows that 58 percent of small and medium-sized business (SMB) entrepreneurs in Africa are women, but that despite the large volume of women participation, women-run businesses average 34 percent lower profits than those run by their male counterparts, and are also less likely to receive funding and investment.
“This is why we are announcing a series of initiatives today, aimed at providing the support women need to grow their businesses,” she said.
Makinde also disclosed that Google is providing free tools to support women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and that it has launched an intensive programme to drive the discovery of women-owned businesses with the introduction of business visibility tools.
These tools, according to her, include Google Business Profile, which helps businesses create a free webpage to make them easier to find online; and Primer, an app-based skills building platform, which allows business owners to access a series of free, custom designed, bite-sized lessons on the go.
To further help women business owners to develop their skills, Google said it has also dedicated the March cohort of the Hustle Academy to women-owned SMBs.
The Hustle Academy, launched last month, is a free, week-long bootcamp designed to help SMBs build the expertise they need to expand their businesses.
In addition to the funding announcement, Google also unveiled #LookMeUp, a campaign to showcase women entrepreneurs and tell their stories. These stories feature prominent African women, including Vivian Nwakah in Nigeria, who launched Medsaf, a pharma supply chain solution to help Nigerians get access to quality pharmaceutical health care services.
Also featured are Mary Mwange, founder of Data Integrated, who is driving innovation in the mobile payments sector in Nairobi, Kenya, and Mosa Mkhize in South Africa, who launched Origins Publishers to provide children with books in their home languages.