We’re living in unprecedented times. The lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic saw us using online tools and technology in new ways and often in ways we never thought imaginable as we connected with loved ones, worked, studied, learned new skills and supported our favourite local businesses. The role played by digital and online tools during the lockdown is equally important on the road towards sustainable economic recovery.
This is why today we’re pledging to help 1 million job-seekers and local businesses, especially those in retail and tourism, across the Middle East & North Africa learn digital skills and grow their businesses by the end of 2021. Through our program ‘Grow Stronger with Google’, we will offer digital training, financial grants and loans.
Digital skills for students and developers, and mentorship for businesses We want to help ensure that people across the Middle East & North Africa are ready for the jobs of the future, which are increasingly dependent on digital skills. We’ll be working with local partners such as the Ministry of Youth & Sports in Egypt, Saudi Arabia’s Atta Digital Initiative and the NAMA Women Advancement Establishment in the UAE to train 300,000 students and businesses in digital marketing. We will offer advanced digital skills training on topics such as Flutter and Machine Learning for 400,000 developers, with a special emphasis on female developers. To support businesses focusing on technology, we will offer virtual training for thousands of tech businesses on Cloud computing.
We’re also excited to offer mentorship and training opportunities for entrepreneurs by experts from Google and beyond on digital marketing and strategies through the Google for Startups Accelerator. We're allocating $1.1 million USD worth of Google.org financial grants to organizations like Mercy Corps, Arab Tourism Organization and Youth Business International, to further our mentorship efforts for businesses and entrepreneurs across the region. Helping local businesses get online and find new customers
We saw a spike of 28% in searches for online shopping in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE during the lockdown. As more people shop and spend time online, we realise the importance of helping local businesses to have an online presence and to reach new customers. In the next 12 to 18 months, we will get 150,000 local businesses in Saudi Arabia and the UAE online by listing them on Google my Business and training them on digital marketing, in partnership with Saudi Post, and the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
We’re also excited to launch Market Finder in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. , a tool that helps businesses by providing tailored recommendations and resources so they can reach more customers around the world. We’ll also be offering free access to the Google Shopping tab to retailers in MENA so they can list their products and connect with more customers. Access to capital for small businesses We know that the pandemic affected businesses, particularly small businesses, which is why we’re offering $3 million USD in loans to support thousands of underserved small businesses in partnership with Kiva, an online lending platform.
We hope that Grow Stronger with Google helps equip businesses and job-seekers with some of the online skills and resources they need during the pandemic and beyond so that they are future ready. We believe that by working together and with a little help from technology, we can have a more sustainable economic recovery.
You can learn more about the program by visiting grow.google/intl/mena