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Google to help 1 million rural women turn entrepreneurs; launches web portal and commits $500k grant

Technology for MSMEs: Google also committed $500,000 in grant to Nasscom Foundation, which will reach out to 1 lakh women agri-workers based in Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh, to offer digital and financial literacy training.

Technology for MSMEs: Google on Monday announced a new web platform Women Will to support 1 million rural women in India to become entrepreneurs through accelerator programmes, mentorship, business tutorials, etc. The announcement was made on the occasion of International Women’s Day at the virtual Google for India event. Accessible in English and Hindi, the web portal will offer guidance to aspiring women in villages on how to turn an interest or a hobby such as tailoring, beauty services, home tuition, food processing, etc. into a business, manage and promote it. Google will work initially with 2,000 ‘Internet Saathis’ to help other women turn entrepreneurs. Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai had launched the Internet Saathi programme in 2015 to impart digital literacy training to women in villages.

“Building on the Internet Saathi program success, we’re making a new commitment to help 1 million women in rural villages in India to become entrepreneurs through business tutorials, tools, and mentorship,” said Pichai.

Among other initiatives announced by Google on Monday included committing a $500,000 grant to Nasscom Foundation, which will reach out to 1 lakh women agri-workers based in Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh, to offer digital and financial literacy training. Pichai also announced a global Google.org Impact Challenge for Women and Girls, under which the company will offer $25 million in grants to non-profits and social enterprises in India and other countries that are supporting women and girls reach their full potential. “Women are almost twice as likely to lose their jobs during the pandemic and an estimated 20 million girls are at risk of not returning to school. We have the opportunity to build a future that is more equal and more inclusive—and we must take it,” Pichai added.

Google will also enable search in English for “women-led” — “women-led restaurants,” “women-led clothing stores” and other keywords on Google Search and Maps to support women entrepreneurs. This is based on an opt-in feature on Google My Business where women-led businesses can identify as such on their Business Profiles. “This will not only enhance the online presence of hundreds of women-owned businesses but customers can easily extend their support by purchasing from them, leaving a great review, and sharing their Business Profile,” the company said. In February 2021, Google had said that it would invest $15 million to support Indian small and micro enterprises in India amid the Covid impact. In 2020, Pichai had announced a Google for India digitisation fund to invest Rs 75,000 crore over the following five to seven years towards digitization efforts in India.