News24.com reports that internet giant Google announced that it is launching a programme to bring small businesses in South Africa online. The programme, dubbed Woza Online, will allow businesses to create their own website and develop an online presence.
"Woza Online, in partnership with the department of trade and industry (DTI), Vodacom and the Human Resources Development Council (HRDC), hopes to transform the South African SME landscape, and drive economic growth and job creation," Google said.
The programme has been launched around the world and in Africa, the programme was launched in Kenya and Nigeria in 2011, with these countries seeing over 20 000 businesses going online within the first two months, Google said. According to a World Wide Worx January 2012 survey, 79% of small and medium enterprises with a website reported profitability, whereas only 59% of SMEs without a website reported similar results. "We have also seen that, under tough conditions, many SMEs have only survived thanks to their online presence," said Arthur Goldstuck, CEO of World Wide Worx.
The DTI said this programme would benefit small businesses and facilitate more entrepreneurs. "The more small businesses are online, the more customers they will be able to reach," Elizabeth Thabethe, deputy minister for the department of trade and industry, told News24.com. "We often hear entrepreneurs or business owners describing the challenges of building an online presence. With Woza Online removing those obstacles, SMEs are empowered to take that first bold step toward getting online," she said.
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