Startups are key to solving today’s biggest challenges and a huge driver of innovation — and artificial intelligence is one of their sharpest tools. Virtual assistants, customized content, traffic apps, spell check, mobile check deposit and live captioning constitute just a small fraction of the everyday solutions using AI — and many of these technologies were first developed by startups.
AI learns from those who build it, so it is critical to have people of all backgrounds helping shape the technology to ensure its effectiveness, reduce bias and create better solutions for everyone. As Director of Product Inclusion and Equity at Google, I love to see Black founders tap into the power of our Google AI tech to help their communities and transform the way our products work and operate.
In honor of Black History Month in the U.S., I asked four Google for Startups Black Founders Fund recipients from around the world and across different industries how they’re using Google AI technology to address societal challenges. These incredible Black entrepreneurs demonstrate why every startup—not just those with historically marginalized founders— should be prioritizing inclusive AI.
CashEx cofounders Kingsley Ezeani & Scott Morgan
Cofounder & CEO of CashEx, a digital bank for immigrants
“It is unfairly expensive for African migrants to send money to Africa ($80 billion annually), with fees as high as 10% — the highest in the world. By reducing the cost of money transfers for African migrants, CashEx ensures that families in Africa receive more money to spend on food, health and education.
CashEx uses Google Cloud’s Vision API as part of our user identification process flows to ensure transactions are done safely and less expensively. We are able to quickly process uploaded selfies and give instant feedback to our users on whether or not they meet the criteria for identity verification. The API calls are fast enough that we can do the processing synchronously, all at a low cost.”
Founder & CEO of Yuty, an AI beauty tech solution for personalization
"Building Yuty to recognize everyone irrespective of race, gender or ability is an important part of our ethos. Historically there has been limited data to train models and reduce bias. Generative AI enables us to cater to a diverse audience of beauty consumers, empowering them to discover beauty products which work for both them and the environment and enjoy an easier shopping experience.
TensorFlow is used to develop our recommendation engine that analyses customer data. This helps our customers discover products that address their beauty concerns and goals in an educational and sustainable manner and reduces the need for in-person testing, which helps minimize waste.
Using the real-time capabilities of TensorFlow.js, our algorithms use the customer’s camera to measure factors such as distance and lighting conditions to take the best selfie, improving the quality of photos and providing an engaging and interactive experience with the Yuty product.”
Garri Logistics cofounder Daniel Temesgen
Cofounder of Garri Logistics, a digital freight brokerage
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
“The East Africa region saw freight charges rise by up to 25% last year. Garri Logistics is the most reliable way to ship cargo in Ethiopia and a win-win for all involved. Our web and mobile based platform matches shippers looking to move cargo with vetted truck owners and drivers, while finding optimal route pairings to reduce empty miles. Drivers and truck owners find work and get paid with ease, and shippers pay affordable rates and can even track cargo live from their mobile phone.
We use a variety of Google’s AI services to optimize and streamline our logistics operations by matching the right load with the right partner, get real-time insights, process and analyze vast paperwork, predict demand and manage risk. Some of the services we use include document OCR, translation, handwriting recognition and vision APIs. Translation is especially important for us, and Google’s Amharic translation models are best in class.”
Baruk principal cofounder Ana Cabral
Principal Cofounder of Baruk, a startup providing AI business software solutions
São Paulo, Brazil
“AI is not only helping people become more efficient, it's also revolutionizing the way we do business. My startup Baruk helps companies use AI to automate and grow. Through machine learning, we create recommendation systems that support analysis and decision-making in a world where speed and accuracy are increasingly crucial to business success.
With Google's AI solutions, I'm able to offer my clients (no matter their size) state-of-the-art natural language processing, an essential resource to make our bots intelligent, humanized and polyglot. By using Google Cloud’s Speech-to-Text, I'm turning an old dream into reality by making our systems interact with humans through voice, understanding their intentions, executing tasks and creating new automations from commands.”