Tech giant Google announced on Monday that it had recently invested a significant amount of money in several African entrepreneurs, and pledged to build a digital ecosystem in Africa that would focus on helping small and medium-sized business succeed through the creation of more digital jobs, digital literacy, and digital education.
Google issued the investment as part of the strategic initiative Google for Entrepreneurs, which allows the startup community to reach out to its investors and outline their business plans. The initiative is designed to help early-stage startups in East Africa — a thriving tech region, where companies have already seen some major success — develop their businesses, particularly those using the Android operating system.
Based on the fundraising campaign that Google started in 2016, the company now boasts 19 tech investors from across the globe — including Silicon Valley venture capital firms — who have pledged almost $1 billion to Silicon Valley-based startups in Africa.
“Today we’re announcing that we’ve invested more than $500 million across the tech ecosystem in Africa, and that a significant amount of that total will help create more jobs in the tech sector in the next five years, and accelerate other small and medium-sized businesses to succeed in Africa,” Google’s managing director for East Africa, Jonathan Berman, told TechCrunch.
The initiative also grants grants to entrepreneurs with the goal of improving infrastructure and ease of doing business in Africa. In 2017, the tech giant provided $500,000 to the African Centre for Open Governance for a project that aims to help African governments make data accessible to citizens.
In 2018, Google also partnered with the city of Johannesburg, South Africa, to promote WebMondate, a platform that uses Google Assistant and Voice to encourage young people to use web tools to pursue careers in tech. The initiative aims to help build the tech ecosystem in the country.
So far in 2019, Google for Entrepreneurs has provided grants to startups in Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Ghana, Nigeria, and Ivory Coast.
MORE: Google sets sights on African start-ups in $500M investment
A business in which a startup invests for its own benefit cannot seek investment through Google for Entrepreneurs, a company spokesperson explained. Entrepreneurs can only apply for the grants if they’ve already secured funding from other sources.
However, Google also encourages entrepreneurs to apply for money from other investors if they find a suitable need.
In addition to the technology company, Google for Entrepreneurs also received investments from commercial banks, Google workers, the American embassy in Ghana, and the United Nations Development Program in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.