Speaking in New Delhi on January 4, Google CEO Sundar Pichai unveiled twin initiatives targeted at spurring the digital presence of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) in the country. Hailing small businesses as the “backbone of India’s economy”, Pichai launched Digital Unlocked. The initiative is aimed at imparting digital training to small businesses in partnership with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI).
“Over the next three years, we will hold 5,000 workshops across 40 Indian cities,” said Pichai. Stating that Google’s focus is towards helping 90% of SMBs without a website, he added, “We will also be launching a new tool later this year in India. We will expand it globally later and it will allow any Indian business to create a simple website. It’s called My Business Website.”
While addressing the gathering, Pichai cited case studies of SMBs who managed to make it big after embracing the internet. “With internet, even a small business can become a large one within a blink of an eye,” he mentioned. He particularly referred to Walnut to drive home his point. “It had over 2 million users in November but then demonetisation was announced. Walnut helped people to find out which ATMs had money and which didn’t,” he narrated.
As a result of that within a span of less than two months, Walnut’s users grew from 2 million to 5 million. Pichai pointed out that such overnight growth was unimaginable in the non-digital era but was possible in the case of SMBs if they leveraged internet technology. Addressing the gathering prior Pichai, Rajan Anandan, Vice President, Google – India & South Asia stated that only 32% of 51 million SMBs in the country had taken the digital plunge.
Sharing the findings of a joint study by Google and KPMG, he said, “Small businesses that are on the internet or leverage the internet grow revenues and profits five times faster than small businesses that are not on the internet.” The research revealed that the former SMBs employed five times more people than the latter. Additionally, SMBs working with technology garnered a sum total of 52% customers outside of their city as opposed to 29% by SMBs who don’t seek internet support.
At present, medium and small enterprises (MSMe) contribute 37% of domestic GDP and employ 120 million individuals. If Google-KPMG report is to be believed, their share in GDP can register an increase of 10% by 2020. For that to happen, 68% of Indian SMBs without internet will have to embrace the digital revolution in some form. Many among them are unaware of the benefits of going digital and lack the necessary technical skills. Through Digital Unlocked, Google seeks to alter that. The global giant has already touched more than 8 million Indian SMBs through its various products.