Google Pledges $25.5m Investment on Empowerment, Education Projects for African Entrepreneurs

THESE are certainly a tough time for the African continent as far as seed investment is concern, particularly considering the present recession but there is respite now as Google is offering a seed investment totalling $25.5 million to African entrepreneurs., is committing $20 million over the next five years to non-profits that are working to improve lives across Africa.
The Chief Executive Officer of Google International, Mr. Sundar Pichai made the pledge in Lagos, South West Nigeria on Thursday, July 27, at the Google for Nigeria event, the first Google event in Africa where senior executives of the tech-giant hosted the technology community in Africa.
He disclosed that Google will also train 10 million Africans on basic technologic skills within the space of five years that will help more businesses across the continent to be connected to technology possibilities.
Pichai said that getting technology into the hands of people who have never had it before was a great change as a result, he said that Google will be training 100,000 software developers to develop software that will address local solutions noting that the seed investment was the first in Africa.
The Google CEO who declined giving a speech rather preferred to be interviewed, and was interviewed by former Nigerian Television Authority presenter, Adesuwa Onyenokwe said that Google in helping small businesses across Africa to leverage on technology to grow their businesses.
He explained that the training from Google will help to get a lot of people online such as people learning how to put their small businesses on the Google map so that prospect customers can find their businesses wherever they are.
He stated: “We’re launching Lagos on Street View, with 10,000 kilometers of imagery, including the most important historic roads in the city. You can virtually drive along the Carter Bridge to the National Stadium or across the Eko Bridge, down to the Marina-all on your smartphone.”
According to him, the free seed funding of $3 million will start from Lagos, Nigeria and spread to other parts of Africa saying that it is the first in Africa.
“Based on our global Launchpad Accelerator program, this initiative will provide more than $3 million in equity-free funding, mentorship, working space and access to expert advisers to more than 60 African startups over three years. Intensive three-month programs, held twice per year, will run out of a new Google Launchpad Space in Lagos-the program’s first location outside of the United States” he said.
Pichai who is visiting Africa for the first time stated that the $20 million, which will help put educational materials on mobile phone through organisations that have been doing that in Africa noting that the selection will be done by users of such materials adding that NGOs are going to nominate the best ideas that will benefit from the funding.
He added that the $2.5 million in initial grants will go to the non-profit arms of African startups, Gidi Mobile and Siyavula to provide free access to learning for 400,000 low-income students in South Africa and Nigeria.
He called on non-profits from across the continent to share their ideas for how they could impact their community and beyond, adding that “We’re launching a Impact Challenge in Africa in 2018 to award $5 million in grants. Any eligible non-profit in Africa can apply, and anyone will be able to help select the best ideas by voting online.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Country Manager for Google Nigeria, Mrs Juliet Ehimuah-Chiazor revealed that digital skills is very under-develop in Africa at a time saying that Google has already exceeded the one million digital skill training in Nigeria which it started in 2016.
According to her, the training cut across the six geo-political zones of the country, and that the training has impacted the life so many young Nigerians who are also creating impact in their communities through their digital skills.
She disclosed that digital skills development are critical for young Nigeria entrepreneurs needed for the growth of the African economy saying that 91 % job seekers who attended the Google digital skills training are now confident about themselves 99 % believes that digital skills are now transforming their businesses.
Vice President, Next Billion Users, Google, Caesar Gupter in a presentation said that Google is committed to putting more people in Africa connected to the internet and as such it is developing products that work easily and better for Africans.
He recalled that across Africa there is a dire challenge of critical internet infrastructure of achieving that dream but that Google has taken up the challenges of addressing that in countries like Uganda through a company it has investment in called CSquare.
Isaiah Erhiawarien, West Africa


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