Google launches program to accelerate economic recovery in MENA

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Lino Cattaruzzi, managing director for Google in MENA.
Lino Cattaruzzi, managing director for Google in MENA.

RIYADH — Google announced Sunday ‘Grow Stronger with Google’, a new program to accelerate the MENA region’s economic recovery through digital transformation, by offering digital tools, grants and training to support local businesses and job seekers. In Saudi Arabia, the program will focus on supporting local businesses in retail and tourism, and tech entrepreneurs.

Lino Cattaruzzi, managing director for Google in MENA, said: "During the pandemic, online tools have been a life-line for many in Saudi Arabia. Making the most of the online opportunity can help Saudi people, businesses and communities and in the wider region more broadly bounce back stronger.

“Our program will help people learn new skills and find jobs, and help businesses grow online, especially those in the retail and tourism sectors that have been most affected.

“We remain fundamentally optimistic about the future of this region, and we're confident that working together with local partners, we can boost recovery and build on the rapid acceleration of tech adoption we’ve seen during the crisis."

The ‘Grow Stronger with Google’ program in Saudi Arabia includes:

Digital skills & Cloud trainings

In partnership with local organizations like the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (Atta Digital), the Ministry of Tourism, and Wadi Makkah, Google will offer training in digital marketing to 50,000 students, artisans and businesses in Saudi Arabia.

Host virtual training for Saudi tech businesses on Cloud computing.

Train 140,000 developers, with a focus on women, on advanced digital skills covering topics like Futter and Machine Learning.

Mentorship of businesses

Launch of ‘Google for Startups Accelerator’, an open call for MENA entrepreneurs and startups to apply for mentorship and training by experts from Google and others on digital marketing and strategies. The first cohort of 15 startups will be selected in November and will last for three months.

$1.1 million worth of Google.org financial grants to organizations like Mercy Corps, Arab Tourism Organization and Youth Business International, to mentor businesses and entrepreneurs across the region.

Digitizing local Saudi businesses

Get 100,000 local businesses online by listing them on Google my Business and training them in digital marketing, in partnership with Saudi Post in the next 18 months.

Launch of Market Finder, a product that will help local businesses grow to new markets & acquire global customers.

Free access to Saudi retailers to list their products on the Google Shopping tab, to help them connect with more customers regardless of whether they advertise with Google.

As part of its region-wide program, Google is pledging to help one million people and businesses in MENA learn digital skills and grow their businesses by the end of 2021. Google is also pledging $4 million in Google.org grants and loans, and over $9 million in Ad Grants and credits for governments and businesses.

In 2018, Google launched Maharat min Google, a digital skills training program, which to date has been completed by one million Arabic speakers in MENA.

According to the Arab Monetary Fund, around 6 million jobs are now at risk in the Arab world, and the most in demand jobs in the Kingdom require applied digital skills. — SG


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