Google supports South African start-ups, SMMEs and NPOs to help economic recovery

Google for South Africa unpacked its support for startups, SMMEs and nonprofits in a bid to accelerate digital transformation and help South Africa’s economy recover at a virtual event today. This follows announcements made in October last year where Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, announced a plan to invest $1 billion over five years to support Africa’s digital transformation.

These investments are focused on enabling fast, affordable internet access across the continent; building helpful products; supporting entrepreneurship and small business; and helping African nonprofits to improve lives.

As the global pandemic enters its third year, these initiatives seek to help alleviate the devastation caused in communities and offer support to the relevant organisations.

Helping nonprofits thrive

Nonprofits are deeply impacted by the pandemic and the work done by these organisations to serve communities has been vital in helping South Africans over the past two years. That’s why is awarding $500k in grant funding and training to Gift of the Givers and Food for Life South Africa to support them in their economic recovery.

“To date, 22 South African nonprofit organisations have tapped into $6.5 million in grants to bolster their work supporting under-served Black youth, SMMEs, and women with skills and knowledge to improve their livelihoods,” explains Dr Alistair Mokoena, Country Director, Google South Africa.

Investing in next-generation entrepreneurs

Startups in South Africa have the potential to unlock job opportunities for South Africans through innovative thinking and products that seek to solve some of the country’s most pressing needs.

The Google for Startups Black Founders Fund in Africa Program has selected 50 top Black-led technology start-ups locally and across the continent to join the programme after a vigorous selection process.

These start-ups will receive $50 million in funding to help spur their growth as part of a broader Africa Investment Fund plan launched last year.

Carry1st is one such startup that has already received equity investments. Carry1st will use the additional capital from the group of investors that includes Google to expand its content portfolio; grow its product, engineering, and growth teams; and acquire new users.

In partnership with the Department of Small Business Development, Google wants to provide support, training and resources to these small enterprises through the newly launched ‘Hustle Academy’ ( a sub-Saharan African initiative aimed at supporting SMMEs and helping their businesses thrive.

South Africa’s Minister for Small Business Development Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams was chief guest at the event and lauded the launch.

“Digital markets and digital transformation are important enablers for the Department of Small Business Development’s vision to ensure a transformed and inclusive economy, driven by sustainable, innovative small, medium, and micro enterprises and cooperatives,” says Ndabeni-Abrahams. “The initiatives discussed today at Google for South Africa are strongly aligned to this vision.”

Fast-tracking digital transformation

A major highlight of last year’s Google for Africa event was Equiano, the subsea cable investment that will run through South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria and St Helena and connect the continent with Europe.

This cable, which is scheduled to land in South Africa later in the year, will almost triple internet speeds in South Africa and Namibia by 2025 and reduce connectivity costs — a boost that is predicted to create 180 000 jobs in South Africa between 2022 and 2025 according to Google-commissioned research.

Google Arts & Culture has also partnered with the Origins Centre in South Africa on a new project called Cradle of Creativity. The project is dedicated to preserving the creative history and heritage of Africa and enables people from across the globe to explore more than 500 high-resolution images, 60 expertly-curated stories with audio narrations, as well as Street View virtual tours, helping to showcase Africa’s creative talent and heritage.

“We are here for the long-term, and our investments and programmes are geared to support this,” concludes Mokoena.

Read more: SafeBoda is the first startup to benefit from Google’s Africa Investment Fund

Featured image supplied by Google

Lindsey Schutters


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