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Google has launched an initiative to upskill one million small British businesses by the end of 2021 to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic by boosting their online performance.
Through its Open for Business scheme, Google will offer a support package of products, tools and services to businesses – particularly those that rely on in-person interactions, like pubs, restaurants and shops, which have been hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis.
The company will offer SMEs and charities 10,000 hours of free one-on-one support over the next 12 months in partnership with the government’s Digital Boost campaign.
Google will also make £25m worth of advertising credits and grants available to small business, government agencies and non-governmental organisations.
The ultimate goal is making small businesses easier to find online. Throughout the pandemic consumers have shown increasing support for their local businesses, but without a strong online presence, that support could falter. Google cited research by Ipsos that found 90% of respondents visited a business if it had shared images on Google Search and Google Maps, while 90% also said they’re more likely to interact with a business if they have a phone number listed on the internet.
“Local businesses are the lifeblood of our communities,” said Ronan Harris, Google managing director, UK. “Like millions up and down the country, we want to help small businesses both survive and thrive.
“Through this programme we’re aiming to upskill SMEs and charities by helping them adapt to operating in a post-lockdown environment. Despite the ongoing uncertainty, we want to show that having an online presence can have a transformative impact on offline businesses.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak welcomed the news, saying: “Our small businesses form the backbone of the British economy, fuelling growth and creating jobs in communities across the country. This has been a difficult time for them, and that’s why I am delighted that today Google have announced this plan to help small businesses recover from the crisis.
“We will all play a part in this national effort to get the UK open for business again safely. Google’s initiative to support our smallest firms is a great step forward in getting our economy back on track.”
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