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Google targets Africa’s retail businesses in new initiatives

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Google has announced new initiatives to support small retail businesses in Africa.

The initiative is part of a month-long commemoration of International Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Businesses Day. This includes a one-hour virtual training event, Shopping Small Business Summit, aimed at helping SMB owners develop skills and tools to compete online.

Topics will include e-commerce trends and digital marketing and are open to all who register at g.co/events/shopping mall.

Google has also partnered with an open online course provider, Coursera, to develop an online career certificate course in digital marketing and e-commerce for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and is offering 1000 scholarships to Africans who wish to attend. The certificate course is the latest in a series of initiatives aimed at preparing participants for entry-level jobs.

Google Country Director for West Africa, Juliet Ehimuan, said: “E-commerce presents an opportunity for small businesses in Africa to reach new customers and grow. Through the digital marketing and e-commerce career certificates and specialised training and 1000 scholarships, we want to assist small businesses in Africa to gain the expertise to connect online, expand their customer base and scale up.”

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 that a business owner may make to enhance how their business profile looks to consumers in Google Search. Also, the free, one-week-long Hustle Academy in June 2022, will focus on essential skills that will help small and medium-sized retail businesses (SMBs) build the skills they need to grow.

Africa’s growing young population and urbanisation present huge expansion opportunities for small retail businesses.

South Africa has 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 per cent of the industry made up of informal merchants, while Kenya, with an e-commerce market growth rate of 44 per cent in 2021, has seen a steady rise in the number of outlets over the last five years.

E-commerce markets in Kenya and Nigeria increased by 40 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively, in 2021, while online sales in South Africa increased by 66 per cent 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.”

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. The programmes 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.