On Wednesday, 27, January 2021, Google Inc announced a $10 million (Ksh1.1 billion) commitment to aid Kenya’s economic recovery, following the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus). This move is also aimed at funding and reviving SMEs, tech startups and underserved communities.
In a statement, Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google and Alphabet Inc mentioned that Google would do more in the future to help people and businesses in Kenya and across Africa. “To continue to support the economic recovery in Kenya, we are committing an additional $10 million to go towards loans for small businesses, support for tech startups, and grants for underserved communities,” Pichai added.
The announcement was made at a digital event hosted by the Corporate Council on Africa where Pichai and Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta were present. While the multinational technology company allotted $5 million to tech startups and $3 million as business loans for SMEs, $2 million will go towards local nonprofits via Google.org.
This is not a novel gesture from Google to the East African state. Towards the end of 2020, Google announced its support for African businesses, job seekers and educational institutions in navigating the pandemic. It worked with more than 300,000 small and medium enterprises to digitize their businesses and provide them with an online presence.
In Kenya, operations of SMEs cut across almost all sectors of the economy and sustain the majority of households. In 2017, Kenya’s overall GDP growth was projected at 6.4 percent with SMEs contributing 3 percent while creating 30 percent its annual employment. According to the country’s Central Bank (CBK), SMEs constitute 98 percent of all business in Kenya.
Kenya is listed as having the highest number of tech hubs in sub-Saharan Africa and second only to South Africa. It also has a fast-growing tech ecosystem. Although the pandemic has had a severe impact on the sector, a recent report indicates that the tech sector is set to contribute up to 8 percent of the country’s GDP through IT-enabled services (ITES) and create about 250,000 jobs.