Following a $1 billion investment in new data centers and a new initiative to help connect 50 million people across Africa, Google today announced it will fund, seed and implement projects in Africa to accelerate internet access and make the web more useful for the millions of African entrepreneurs, startups and citizens for whom it’s now just too expensive or difficult to use.
Today Google announced that a new Google For Entrepreneurs partnership with Forbes has launched, with support from the Africa Fund, the company’s $250 million philanthropic partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The program is intended to boost innovation and growth among startups in Africa, focusing on building a more economically vibrant and dynamic digital ecosystem. Starting today, individuals, startups and technology companies in Africa will be eligible to apply for one of the $25,000 grants.
As part of the initiative, Google is launching its Digital Inclusion Challenge, a competition to identify technologies and applications that can make the Internet more accessible to all. Submissions are due by February 19, and the competition will be judged by an independent panel consisting of experts in the field of digital inclusion. Up to five projects will be chosen to receive funding and support from the Google For Entrepreneurs program.
Speaking about the initiative, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said, “As we look to increase access to the internet in parts of the world that are still offline, the challenge is that we can’t just connect people; we need to make the internet accessible, affordable and useful. And building a smarter, more secure and faster network is an important part of that. That’s why in 2018 we unveiled the Google for Entrepreneurs program, and today we’re making our first investments. Our hope is that the investments we’re making today will bring positive change to Africa as a whole.”
Headquartered in Mountain View, California, Google currently employs over 32,000 people worldwide, making it the most diverse company in the world. This summer Google launched the “Google for Entrepreneurs” global entrepreneurship program, committing $250 million in support of entrepreneurship and technology initiatives across the world to help better connect 50 million people to the Internet by 2020. The program is already making a big impact on the continent. In 2018, Google announced it is making a commitment to support 500 new African start-ups through its Google for Entrepreneurs program, leading to the creation of over 1,000 jobs and $260 million in revenue. The company has committed to invest in 10,000 African startups in the coming years, with the hope of empowering 5 million people in Africa with online access by 2025.
In 2018, Africa was named the next largest region of investment opportunities by accelerator organizations such as Techstars, Techstars Africa, Fincap, Upfront Ventures, DA Capital, GrowLabs, Create, Underscore VC, Entrepreneurs Anonymous, and numerous others. Additionally, data services providers across the continent have also undertaken plans to introduce gigabit broadband across the continent. For more information on Google’s investment efforts in Africa, visit Google.com/ForEntrepreneurs.