Chebet Mutai from Nairobi, Kenya had little digital knowledge when she attended a “Women, Technology & Entrepreneurship” event run by Google in 2012. But the stories she heard and skills she learned there inspired her to quit her job at a bank and pursue her dream of opening a fashion business. She used her savings to buy two sewing machines and rent workshop space, and she set up a business making leather bags and accessories. Today, her company Wazawazi (a combination of two Swahili words meaning “open mindedness”) employs 12 people at a fair wage, exports to countries around the world, and continues to grow.
Segun Abodunrin, in Lagos, Nigeria, has a similar story: Eighteen months ago, the then 29-year-old attended a Google training program to help young Nigerians build their digital skills. Using his newfound knowledge of how to establish and promote a business online, he set up Tway Media, an agency that provides online services and training to small and medium businesses. In the ten months since he opened his doors, Segun has worked with over 1,000 Nigerian entrepreneurs and businesses, showing them how to use the web to grow.
By 2020 there’ll be half a billion internet users in Africa, presenting an opportunity for African businesses and digital entrepreneurs. Youth unemployment across Africa is high (35% in South Africa, 17% in Kenya, 13% in Nigeria) – developing digital entrepreneurship and creating new job opportunities for young people is critical to Africa’s transformative growth. But digital skills are still under-developed, making it harder for African economies to get the most out of the web.
To help close this knowledge gap, Google is today pledging to train 1 million young people in Africa in digital skills in the next year, as part of our contribution to growing Africa’s digital economy.
We’re supporting our partner, Livity Africa, to run two training programs: Digify Bytes, aimed at helping young people develop a digital career; and Digify Pro, a 3-month immersion program to develop digital specialists for jobs in companies or digital agencies. Today, we’re also launching digifyafrica.com – an online-learning portal that will house a range of digital skills tutorials and courses. Available to anyone in Africa, it’s been designed to be as “light” as possible to help people manage data usage.
The Digify programs (which are all free) will provide tools & knowledge on subjects including building an online presence, creating content, understanding web design and user experience, social media and app development. A group of 65 Googlers from 9 different countries have helped Livity develop content, provide mentorship and, in some cases, deliver the training.
We’re also talking to a number of other potential partners across Africa with a view to scaling the digital skills training program and helping to reach even more young people in more countries.
More needs to be done to support people in Africa to succeed in the digital world, and we want to be part of that. The internet offers huge opportunities to start new businesses and grow existing ones, and we’re committed to helping Africans make the most of the digital revolution.
The internet is a growth engine, and it’s for everyone. There’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur in Africa.