Google even as they mark their 13th year in business today launched Getting Nigerian Businesses Online (GNBO), an initiative that aims to bring thousands of small and medium sized enterprises online over the next year. Businesses across the nation will have the opportunity to create their own website and develop an online presence, for free.
The GNBO initiative, in partnership with Ecobank and MTN, is expected to transform the Nigerian SME landscape and contribute to the country’s fast-paced economic growth by making it quick, easy and free for businesses to register an online presence, at a time when more and more Nigerians are accessing the internet.
Juliet Ehimuan, Google Nigeria Country Manager said, “Google believes that the power of the internet will help small businesses in Nigeria to succeed. The number of internet users in Nigeria has increased four fold since 2008, and now stands at over 43 million (ITU). Having a website means that customers can find local businesses and local information easily and quickly.This year we plan to help thousands of Nigerian SMBs get online, together with our partners.”
In support of the new initiative, the Honourable Minister for Communications Technology, Mrs Omobola Johnson said, “In line with its objectives to build a viable digital economy and sustainable information society in Nigeria, the Ministry of Communication Technology supports projects and initiatives that increase the online presence of businesses in Nigeria. This includes Google’s Getting Nigerian Businesses Online Initiative and its goal of facilitating the online registration of thousands of small and medium scale businesses.”
The GNBO initiative also secured the support of the Honourable Commissioner for Science and Technology, Lagos State, who confirmed that “Having an online presence will enable SMEs to grow their businesses significantly by reaching a wider audience…SMEs in Lagos can take advantage of this to expand their reach to a global audience even beyond the shores of Nigeria by getting online.” GNBO has a target of getting tens of thousands of Nigerian businesses online over the next year, and offers businesses:
A free, easy-to-build, professional website for desktop and mobile, A free sub-domain name (e.g, mybusiness.gnbo.com.ng) Free hosting for the life of the website A free local business listing on Google Places
Kingsley Aigbokhaevbo, Executive Director, Domestic Bank, Ecobank Nigeria Plc said,“Nigeria’s economy is expanding at a fast pace, and the growth of small and medium businesses plays an important part in this.” He said that the bank is well positioned to support this growth, as it falls in line with the Ecobank Group strategy to empower Africans wherever they might be, as Africa’s leading regional financial institution with operations in 31 countries. He noted that “GNBO presents a huge opportunity for small businesses to contribute even further to Nigeria’s status as one of Africa’s largest and fastest-growing economies, by taking advantage of the internet to reach new customers.”
According to Babatunde Osho, Chief Enterprise Solutions Officer, MTN Nigeria, “MTNNigeria is partnering with Google Nigeria on this laudable project, as enabling small businesses with business communication tools is central to our SME strategy. The more small businesses are online the more customers they will be able to reach. The more customers these businesses reach, the more profitable they shall become. The multiplier effect on the economy will be substantial.”
In attendance at the GNBO launch at the Eko Hotel in Lagos were also dozens of SMBs, some of whom have already started to reap the benefits of the internet, having been part of Google’s SMB pilot programme last year. These included the owners of a warehouse and transport logistics firm, a cake-baking business, and an interior design company. Less than a year ago, Mr Blankson Aci of Acican Investments Limited, owned just one warehouse in Port Harcourt. Today, thanks to his new online presence, he has expanded his business regionally and added another 3 warehouses to his collection. Meanwhile, Mrs Tinuola Okenimkpe of Dreamtreats Cakes reported that the majority of her customers now do business with Dreamtreats via the company’s new website.