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Google to invest $1-billion in African businesses

Google has pledged $6.5-million worth of grants to SMEs and skills development in South Africa. It aims to continue this funding trajectory over the next five years, writes AYANDA TSHABALALA.

Google will invest $1-billion in non-profits, start-ups and SMEs in South Africa in the next five years to assist their digital transformation. Google says it hopes the initiative will help the South African economy recover from the turbulence it has experienced in the past two years. 

The focal point of the investment is to promote internet inclusivity across Africa, through enabling fast and affordable internet access, creating impactful products, supporting entrepreneurs and improving the lives of Africans.

Dr Alistair Mokoena, country director of Google South Africa, says that 22 South African NPO’s have benefited from $6.5-million worth of grants made by to alleviate the plight of black youth, women, SMEs as well as skills development.

Google says it considers start-ups to be key to the economic recovery of South Africa because they create job opportunities.

Among others, it has created a rigorous selection process for start-ups that are black founded to join the Black Founders Fund in Africa program. The program has already selected 50 black-founded or -led businesses that will benefit from the $50-million funding allocated.

Google has also partnered with the Department of Small Business Development to attract SMEs. Partnering with the government will ensure that they are able to support, train and provide resources for these businesses to help them thrive. SMEs can expect up to $3-million in loans to help them achieve their goals.

Google says it will work more with lower-income communities, previously marginalised groups and rural communities. 

Through its Arts & Culture programme, Google has also partnered with the Origins Centre in South Africa on a new project called “Cradle of Creativity”. Dedicated to preserving the creative history and heritage of Africa, it says the Cradle of Creativity project 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. Visit the project at

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