More than six months after Google chief executive Sundar Pichai announced company’s ambitious plan to help bring India’s small businesses online – one of its recent steps to win new users in the country – its efforts have started to shape up.
More than 120,000 small businesses in India – which include everything from your neighbourhood carpenter to mom and pop stores – have come online and are beginning to use Google’s tool – My Business Websites – that allows them to create mobile-friendly websites at no charge, Google India president Rajan Anandan said Wednesday at a media event in New Delhi. More than 100,000 small businesses have signed up for company’s Digital Unlocked training programme in the last seven months, he added.
Much of the country’s 51 million small businesses don’t have a Web presence, Pichai had said at a press event in January this year. India is the first nation where Google launched the aforementioned free tool.
Part of the challenge the company sees in its mission is making people informed and trained about the importance of Internet, Anandan said. For this, and as part of its Digital Unlocked training programme, the company had launched Primer, a free app that anyone can download. That app, Anandan said, has been downloaded more than two million times.
That in itself would have been a cause for celebration, but the time of the initiative makes it ever so remarkable. In the aftermath of demonetisation by the government last year, small and medium businesses were among the sectors to take a hit.
As part of the program, Google also recognised some small businesses that are embarking the digital age. On Wednesday, the company handed out awards to Farida Gupta, a women’s apparel business that offers a varied range of traditional crafts and techniques; CareNx, a business that offers health solutions for high risk pregnancies to over 600 pregnant women in more than 200 villages, and Buttercups, a leading online lingerie store.
Google, which is increasingly looking at India and other emerging markets for its next billion users, will be among the beneficiary of the Digital Unlocked programme. As more of these small businesses come online for the first time, many will be using Google’s services.