Tag Archives: Google in Africa

Driving growth in the Middle East

The Nest is an online store that offers curated handcrafts from Egypt, from home accessories to fashion and furniture. When the pandemic started, founders Dina and Omar had to close their physical showroom, which used to drive 90% of their sales. They listed their business details on Google Maps and Search, promoted their products online and revamped their website which, in less than a year, became their main source of revenue.

According to a new report published by Public First research agency and commissioned by Google, our products and tools in the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia helped businesses to adapt during the pandemic and helped people sharpen their skills and find jobs.

The report shows 45% of people in Egypt last year used Google Maps to find a local business and 52% of businesses in Saudi Arabia reported an increased proportion of their customers coming from online search or search advertising.

Since opening our first office in the Middle East and North Africa 13 years ago, Google has been actively supporting local businesses and developers, YouTube content creators, and publishers. Public First estimates that last year Google products like Search, YouTube, Android and Google Ads drove 12.2 billion SAR [3.2 billion USD] to the Saudi economy, 11.3 billion AED [3 billion USD] to the UAE economy and 11.2 billion EGP [600 million USD] to Egypt's economy.

Growing developers and creators

Manal, Saudi YouTube creator, shows how she tailors trousers on her YouTube channel

Manal, DIY content creator on YouTube in Saudi Arabia. Photo credit: Manal’s YouTube page

Manal, from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, has a passion for DIY in fashion and home improvement. She started her YouTube channel to share her knowledge in upcycling dresses and scarves to make trousers, and repainting her room for Ramadan. Manal’s work has inspired others, and her community often share their own versions of her designs and ask for DIY tips. When she built her channel during the pandemic, her subscribers grew by over 300%. Manal is one of many talented creators in Saudi Arabia growing their business on YouTube. In fact, the percentage of YouTube channels in Saudi Arabia making six figures or more in revenue is up more than 20% year over year. That's a sign of steady growth in Saudi Arabia’s YouTube creator community.

Founder of Lamsa, Badr Ward, stands, smiling, with his arms folded

Badr Ward, founder of Lamsa World, an Arabic educational platform in the UAE. Photo credit: Hub71

Lamsa World is an educational platform in Arabic for children. It has interactive courses in math, science, language, arts and more. Badr Ward, the Dubai-based founder, wanted to help his children watch more educational content in Arabic, which was sparse and not always engaging. Badr and his team took part in the Google Accelerator Program in Dubai last year and, with the help of mentors, tested different sign-up options and experimented with different content formats. This led to a significant increase in the website's sign-up rates and a 300% increase in Arabic content downloads.

Unlocking skills and jobs

Since its launch in 2018, Maharat min Google, Google's digital skills program in Arabic, has trained 1.5 million people in the Middle East and North Africa. And in October 2020, Google announced a $13 million USD fund for digital tools, training programs, mentorship and financial grants to support businesses and job seekers in the Middle East and North Africa during the pandemic. Following Google's mentorship program with Mercy Corps, 50% of trainees said that they found a job, accelerated their career or grew their business by hiring new staff or increasing revenue.

Google Search also played a big role in helping people in the region access information and skills last year. For example, 85% of people in the UAE said they used Search to learn a new skill.

People looked for jobs too. Every month, around 11 million women in Egypt go to Search to look for a job. In Saudi Arabia, 1.8 million people use Search to prepare for a job interview. According to the World Economic Forum, many women are contributing to the innovation coming out of the Middle East and North Africa, yet this region continues to have one of the lowest levels of female economic involvement globally.

Public First estimates there are already 85,000 Android-based developer jobs in Egypt and 50,000 in the UAE. In Saudi Arabia, the total number of developers making USD 10,000 per month on Google Play grew by 16% last year.

We are proud that people in the Middle East and North Africa are able to unlock opportunities for themselves with the help of Google products and tools. The region is young, smart and digital, and Google is committed to doing more to help entrepreneurs, local business owners, developers and content creators get the skills they need to build and grow their digital businesses.

If you want to understand more about Google's impact in the Middle East and North Africa, and the methodology behind the report, visit the links below:

Belonging at Google in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

Building for everyone requires vision, and constant revision. Every product we create requires continually trying new things, examining data and learning from both our successes and failures to do better every day. Our work on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is no different. Google first published its Diversity Annual Report in 2014 and since then we’ve built on what we’ve learned to increasingly make Google a place that is truly for everyone. Last year, for the first time, the data in the report was broken down across Google’s business regions. With this year’s report we now have the opportunity to report on progress for the business region that encompasses Europe, the Middle East and Africa which we call EMEA.

I’ve led Google’s DEI programs in EMEA since 2019. I’m often asked what DEI looks like in such a diverse region. How can one approach work from Paris to Lagos and from Milan to Tel Aviv? It’s not simple, but we are committed to finding ways to make progress. Each country has different rules governing what data we can collect and what policies are permissible. Our DEI data isn’t perfect, but it’s essential for us to measure our progress as it helps keep us honest about where we are at and where we want to be.

Representation of women in EMEA

The data shows that we have increased the overall representation of women in our workforce from 32.7% to 33.8%. That might sound small, but in an organization the size of Google in EMEA (over 25,000 employees and interns) this represents a significant shift.

We continue to make progress in the hiring of women in EMEA with an overall increase of 14%. Specifically, women made up 28% of our tech hires, 49.2% of our non-tech hires and 47.1% of our Leadership hires. This is an increase year on year of 27% for non-tech and 64% for leadership hires with tech hires staying the same.

Our focus on increasing representation of women in leadership roles across EMEA is showing promising results. We saw a significant gain of 10% in the representation of women in leadership roles which now stands at 29.7%. It’s good to see progress, but there is more to do here.

We know efforts to develop talent from under-represented groups need to start early. We have amplified our efforts to support gender equity in a number of countries in Africa, sponsoring and providing content for the Our Girls, Our Future conference for young women interested in the tech industry. Across Sub-Saharan Africa, we partnered with the Graca Machel Trust to provide digital skills training for more than 5,000 women entrepreneurs.

We also grew Mind the Gap, an initiative we started in Israel in 2008 that encourages women and girls to pursue STEM careers. Mind the Gap transitioned to a virtual platform at the beginning of the pandemic. In 2021, the program reached more than 60,000 students in Israel and expanded to Romania and Ghana.

Racial equity in EMEA

Last year, for the first time, we were able to report race data for our business region in the Diversity Annual Report, thanks to almost three quarters of Googlers in EMEA voluntarily providing this information.

We see White+* continue to account for the highest representation in EMEA (78.1% versus 80.4% last year). Representation of Asian+* Googlers shows the largest increase (from 10.9% to 12.1%), followed by MENA+* (from 7.3% to 7.8%), Black+* (from 2.8% to 3.2%), Latinx+ (from 3.8% to 3.9%) and Indigenous+ (no change at 0.3%).

Where we need to make better progress is in the speed at which things are changing. For example, there has been an increase in representation of MENA+ leaders (from 4.5% to 5.8%) and an increase in representation of Black+ leaders (from 3.3% to 3.8%) across EMEA - but we need to see more progress here. And representation for all racial categories except Black+ and White+ are lower in leadership than in the overall population.

Growing leadership is one of the key planks of our racial equity plans in EMEA. Here’s how we’re focusing our efforts:

  • In recruiting: In 2021, we set an aspiration to double the number of Black+ directors by 2023. Additionally, we aim to drive Black+ representation at all levels across our talent engagement, outreach initiatives and inclusive hiring commitments.
  • Baseline data: Where legally permissible, we have started to collect application data to help understand the representation of our candidates.
  • Nurturing talent: We relaunched Elevate+, a six-month-long EMEA specific program that offers one-on-one mentorship and coaching to Black+ employees. To date, nearly 200 Googlers have participated in this program.
  • Educating majority groups: We continue to engage Googlers through comprehensive anti-racism and racial equity education, such as trainings and our speaker series on racial justice. We also have a thriving community of allyship groups across EMEA.

It’s not just about supporting racial equity in our workforce — it’s also important to support the wider community. Black founders in EMEA received $63 million in ‘follow-on’ funding after they participated in our Black Founders Fund, with 95% of participants reporting a positive impact on their startup’s ability to fundraise. We announced a second fund earlier this year.

Disability in EMEA

Our recruiting teams and local HR teams work closely with our Disability Alliance group to progress our commitments to communities with disabilities, ensuring that our hiring process is accessible and our culture and managers are prepared to support and lead Googlers with disabilities.

Our talent engagement team in EMEA hosted its first ever Disability Conference (DisCo for short) for nearly 2000 students, new graduates and industry professionals with disabilities. The conference created a space for people with disabilities and allies to connect and engage with each other and Google.

We’re also fostering new connections with disability communities around the globe. Last year, our London, Dublin, Munich, Zurich, Wroclaw and Nairobi offices celebrated #PurpleLightUp, a global campaign that celebrates every employee with a disability around the world. Leaders from each office also held conversations with our employee resource group (ERG) for Googlers with disabilities.

LGBTQ+ representation in EMEA

We have incredibly active Pride and Trans employee resource groups at Google. These groups play a critical role in promoting belonging and inclusion within the LGBTQ+ community - from creating thoughtful programming for Trans Awareness week to leading Pride events activations across 26 countries, from Poland to South Africa.

Google is also a founding member of We Are Open, an alliance of businesses and other organizations in Hungary that promotes diversity and inclusion at the workplace, focusing on LGBTQ+ inclusion. In line with Google’s vision to be helpful for all, including our LGBTQ+ communities and its allies, we were excited to partner with Open for Business in creating a report on LGBTQ+ inclusion in Central and Eastern Europe that was released last year.

In addition, to aid small business recovery during the pandemic, we launched a global campaign to help support and celebrate LGBTQ+ friendly spaces - from a LGBTQ+ bookstore in Sweden, to Rainbow Square in Copenhagen. Google also officially supported the Ja Für Alle campaign in the referendum for Equal Marriage rights in Switzerland.

In conclusion

It’s up to every one of us to contribute to building a more inclusive, equitable, and representative workplace, region and world where everyone feels they belong. We have a responsibility to relentlessly represent and support the rich diversity of talent in our region and to make Google a place where everyone can thrive. This work is not a one-off effort. It requires thoughtful and committed, ongoing systemic action. Only by committing to doing this work together can we make meaningful and long lasting change.

If you’d like to find out more, please take a look at this year’s Diversity Annual Report.

Meet the entrepreneur connecting Kenyans to healthy food

When Binti Mwallau started Hasanat Ventures, her dairy processing company in Kenya, she expected some resistance from her peers in an industry dominated by men. But she was surprised to run into more skepticism from her customers. Despite her background in finance and biochemistry, many of them questioned her credibility as a woman entrepreneur.

Worried that her gender would affect Hasanat Ventures’ reputation, Binti considered hiring a man as the face of the business. But she eventually decided against it, standing firm in her pride as a solo founder and committed to tearing down the perception that women-run businesses in Africa aren't as successful as those run by men.

“I think we should be challenging the outdated narrative that businesses run by men are guaranteed to be more successful,” Binti says. “Based on research, we've seen that businesses run by women actually perform better. We should use this as an opportunity to prove that as a woman, you do stand a chance to succeed in everything that you do.”

Just as important to Binti as breaking this bias was giving Kenyans more access to affordable nutrition. “I realized that many people couldn’t afford premium yogurt. So we entered the market with a high-quality product that’s affordable for lower and middle-income earners who have become more health-conscious,” she says.

Binti knew she had to drive awareness for her brand, particularly to reach Kenyans who needed convincing about yogurt’s health benefits. So she turned to Google Digital Skills for Africa, which offers virtual classes to help entrepreneurs grow their skills and businesses, and completed a digital marketing course to help her get Hasanat Ventures online.

“After participating in the course, we knew our online presence had to be bigger than just social media,” Binti says. “Now that we have a fully functional website, we are actually getting leads from outside Kenya.”

As part of the course, Binti learned how to use Google Analytics to measure her website’s performance. She could now monitor traffic insights, analyze pageviews and better understand who was visiting her site.

Binti’s determination and passion for her business are showing up in the results. In its first year, Hasanat Ventures supplied over 300 retailers with affordable dairy products. Three years later, it’s grown to support more than 50 farmers and even built its own production facility to keep up with demand.

“I really want to make sure that I am visible and speaking up in spaces women don’t usually have access to,” Binti says. “As Hasanat Ventures continues to grow, I am confident I can help change the perception of African women in business.”

58% of Africa’s entrepreneurs are women. That’s why we’re empowering them with the platform and tools to grow their businesses. Learn more about our #LookMeUp campaign, highlighting Africa’s women entrepreneurs like Binti who are working to break the bias.

This YouTuber wants to bring financial literacy to Africans

Nicolette Mashile wanted to find a more fulfilling career. So in 2016, she resigned from her job as a Client Service Director at a Johannesburg advertising agency. But quitting meant Nicolette was forced to stick to a stricter budget.

She began sharing her money-saving tips on YouTube and it wasn’t long before she noticed her advice resonated with African viewers. Eventually, this South African content creator built a significant following for her candid take on money management, and was invited to join the #YouTubeBlackVoices Creator Class of 2021. This in turn helped herFinancial Bunny YouTube channel garner almost 9 million views.

“I was very frank about money management, how to effectively budget and how to plan your spending. When I saw my YouTube following growing, I knew this personal finance advice was making a real impact and I committed to improving financial literacy in South Africa,” Nicolette says.

This meant finding creative ways to make financial literacy more inclusive and accessible while also removing the stigma attached to discussing personal finance. Nicolette spun her YouTube success into two books — one for adults titled “What’s Your Move,” and another for children, “Coco the Money Bunny.”

“When I created the books, I had to develop a new website so it was important to identify our different customer types and implement search engine optimization. I needed to do research to understand the target customers and develop the website to meet their needs and Google Ads was a promotional channel I experimented with,” Nicolette added.

But it was the launch of her Save or Spend board game and subsequent app that sparked her shift towards technology.

“I’d successfully leveraged digital media to share financial content, so naturally it made sense to use the power of tech to design an interactive app that could simplify money management in a fun and engaging way,” she says.

Using gamification helped to take away the seriousness around money while also addressing the lack of financial education in South Africa. In a digital era where most Africans own a smartphone rather than a laptop, Nicolette knew a free app would be an accessible tool to teach people about money. Her app has proven popular due in large part to the massive following she has built online since launching her YouTube channel back in 2017.

Nicolette’s also grown her business to include consultancy and coaching, and she relies a lot on Google Meets for some of her sessions.

“My consultancy work with brands and corporate individuals means I use video calling quite often and for this I use Google Meets. I do one-on-one coaching with multiple clients per month and it’s super simple to just send a link and jump on a call because people can log in from anywhere,” she says.

Ultimately, Nicolette hopes to continue empowering her followers by arming them with the tools and skills they need to better manage their money. “I want to keep encouraging South Africans to have the difficult discussions people often avoid around personal finance.”

Fifty-eight percent of Africa’s entrepreneurs are women. That’s why we’re empowering them with the platform and tools to grow their businesses. #LookMeUp is a call for all to #BreakTheBias. Find out more here.

Humans Behind Search: Doodle guest artist, Joe Impressions

Joe Impressions is a graphic designer based in Nairobi, Kenya. In honor of what would have been the 71st birthday of the late professor Okoth Okombo of Nairobi University, Joe served as a local guest artist to create a Google Doodlereflecting Professor Okombo’s contribution and legacy that launched on November 8, 2021. Professor Okombo was one of the founders of the scientific study of sign language in Africa and a distinguished scholar in Nilotic language study. Here, we speak to Joe about using Search in his design process and how curiosity fuels how he works.

Thanks for chatting with us, Joe. So, how does one go from doodling for fun to being a Google Doodle guest artist?

Curiosity has driven my whole creative journey. I grew up doodling Bible stories for children back at home as a child. In high school, I began secretly doodling on the back pages of my school books. That's when I discovered my love for art, so I enjoyed using my free time to doodle for fun.

Afterwards, I went to university and studied a non-art-related course. My mother bought me my first laptop which spurred my interest in creating digital art. This curiosity led me to discover computer software that enabled me to create my own art. Midway, I was tempted to switch courses and study art, but I chose not to. Instead, I decided to utilize my free time every day to practice and learn how to use software such as Adobe Illustrator through online tutorials.

After graduation, I had greatly improved my skills, but then the COVID pandemic started. I went back home and since there wasn't much going on, I had a lot of free time. As remote working became a thing, I slowly started to get freelance jobs and clients from freelance platforms. This gave me valuable experience working with clients on actual real-life projects.

Over time, my online portfolio on Behance (a social media platform for designers) grew, and eventually people noticed me and my work. I was honored when Google approached me to create a Doodle for Professor Okoth Okombo's 71st birthday. This still motivates me to keep moving forward and find new opportunities to expand my skills.

You spoke about ‘curiosity being your guide’ in the creative process. What was your starting point with creating this Doodle?

I start my creative process long before I begin the drawing bit. I am always curiously observing and absorbing the people, art, and world around me to ignite my creativity. As I walk, travel, or dream, I am always ready to be inspired.

Once I have been inspired, I begin the research phase. I begin my research by brainstorming keywords derived from my imagination and feelings. I like to list down keywords and ideas that are easy to search for on Google, such as "lecturer" and "student." Next, I Google Searched the internet for relevant photographs, images, paintings and illustrations in order to get a realistic setting in perspective and composition. Additionally, looking at previous Doodles by other artists helped me form my general expectations. Having a rough idea of­ what I would like to search for before starting research helps me stay focused.

Having done all this, I felt comfortable to start the sketching phase. I came up with three rough sketches to present to Google for feedback. We selected the best concept based on the feedback. The next step was to refine the sketch into accurate outlines. I usually make my outlines look organic and hand-drawn by varying the stroke width using custom brushes in Adobe Illustrator.

The final stage is the coloring and rendering stage. The colors for this Doodle are inspired by the Kenyan Flag (black, red, green, and white). I save hundreds of nice images that I come across so that I can reference their colors later. I do this to enlarge the library of colors that I use in my work.

Image of Joe Impressions' Google Doodle honoring the late professor Okoth Okombo

Joe Impressions' Google Doodle honoring the late professor Okoth Okombo.

How do you use Search in your day-to-day life in Kenya? For information, escapism or something else?

Throughout my journey, Search has been like a giant key that I use to unlock doors of information. Every day, Search makes it effortless to access a vast amount of information for free. I started out illustrating by searching for art tutorials on my phone and laptop using school Wi-Fi. Many college and university students are dependent on search to complete assignments and do research.

These days, I use Search more than ever. I search daily for everything, like resources, entertainment, and ways to connect with others and keep myself informed. With the current increasing internet penetration rate, the search continues to provide young Kenyan creatives with resources that could have been inaccessible before. Search is contributing to the rising access to online jobs as the source of work opportunities is shifting to digital platforms.

Any advice for aspiring Doodle artists out there?

The best way for aspiring Doodle artists to improve their craft is to stay inspired, be consistent, and do lots of practice. The creative process is often cloudy, filled with doubts and revisions. Keep hunting down those elusive ideas every day. You will eventually find them, and people will start to notice you and your work.

Don’t let insufficient resources stop you from following your dreams. Use everything you have at your disposal to learn, and it will pay off in the long run.

What does the Google Doodle mean to you?

This Doodle gave me a massive chance to fuse my illustration skills, former university experiences, and the inspiration that I got from other Google Doodles. All my previous interactions with other Doodles left me with a piece of information that I did not know before. It was my moment to celebrate Professor Okoth Okombo by showing my vision of what I imagined Professor Okoth Okombo’s lectures would feel like.

Moreover, my mom, now a lecturer, was once Professor Okoth Okombo's student at the University of Nairobi. That makes this Doodle very meaningful to me.

What Breaking the Bias means to these Googlers in Africa

Breaking the Bias was the theme for International Women’s Day 2022. It was a call to create a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive – where difference is valued and celebrated.

In Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) this year we celebrated the theme of breaking the bias by highlighting the work of Africa’s women entrepreneurs through a campaign called #LookMeUp, highlighting Africa’s women entrepreneurs on the continent with programming designed to break the biases around their leadership in building Africa’s economy.

Meanwhile, inside Google, we ran a #LookMeUp campaign for female Googlers to share their career stories and the biases we should look them up for breaking. Some powerful themes emerged:

Understand your own biases

Felicia Otolorin, Industry Manager in Nigeria points out that to her breaking the bias is “first being aware of what our own internal biases are, understanding how we can best navigate them to make the world around us and our approach to the world around us better”. It’s about creating the space to help yourself and others understand your own biases — how they shape us and how we defy them.

Lead with authenticity

Googlers talked about how owning your excellence and letting purpose drive you is what allows them to challenge stereotypes in meaningful ways. Dorothy Ooko, Head of Communications and Public Affairs in Africa, says, “to me breaking the bias means living my life with excellence so naysayers are proved wrong and giving others the space to do so”. Country Director of Kenya, Agnes Gathaiya, describes being driven by the purpose of ensuring more women have a seat at the table — every day, everywhere— to ensure the sustainability of female leadership.

Have courage

Zelda Tintinger, ​​Channel Territory Manager, in the Cloud team in South Africa speaks of having to break the bias that women should be seen and not heard to own her seat at the table, initially as the first female engineer at Microsoft and now one of the first in the Sub Saharan African Region at Google. It’s about owning your voice, in careers and work spaces where women are often underrepresented. For Pren-Tsilya Boa-Guehe, Government Affairs & Public Policy Manager, it’s about not letting your fears or your challenges get in the way of you trying to reach for your dreams. Finally Oluwatamilore Oni, Program Associate, Google.org states that to her breaking the bias is going beyond her comfort zone and to reach for the opportunities she’s interested in and things she would like to explore.

Create space for others

Lastly, create space for others. For Juliet Ehimuan, Country Director of Nigeria, breaking the bias means “Going beyond perceived limits, giving everyone the freedom to bring all of who they are to the table in service of their greater self”. Additionally, Head of Brand and Reputation for the region, Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde, describes the importance of being open to learning and listening deeply to understand other viewpoints, perspectives and lived experiences knowing that people see things from different sides of the prism as well as opening yourself to new opportunities and adventures to improve your knowledge.

It is only when we have honest conversations that we can have corrective conversations. Nozipho Tshabalala
CEO of the Conversation Strategist

What can others do in their organizations or lives to break the bias?

  1. Don’t make assumptions about people, based on their gender, race, age, background or how they speak. You do not know someone’s story, the odds they’ve defied or the extent of their experience and excellence unless you make the room to get to know them.
  2. Encourage women to take up space. When you are in rooms with women and in rooms without them, ask yourself what voice is not being heard, and why? And then create the room to ask and more importantly to listen.
  3. For the women trailblazing and forging spaces in unknown territories, do not forget to lift as you rise. Ensuring sustainable female leadership and leadership pipeline is important, so that in generations to come women are not fighting the same fight and we are creating environments where we can all thrive.
  4. If you see something, say something. It is important that we hold ourselves accountable for creating the culture we want to have, calling out discriminatory and biasd behaviour when we see it as well as own when we ourselves make mistakes. This should be done in a manner that cultivates growth and encourages us all to be better and reminds us that we are the custodians of our organization’s culture.

To find out more about the campaign head to #LookMeUp, and watch the full video below.

How a pharmacist’s healthtech solution plans to improve access to medication

Like many other entrepreneurs, Adeola Alli only launched her business OneHealthNG to solve a problem that she herself faced. As a qualified pharmacist who had worked in both the UK and the USA, when she returned home to Nigeria, she struggled to easily access specialist medication for her child.

Fed up of having to rely on visiting relatives and slow importation deliveries — and despite no technology experience — she did what any other headstrong mother would do:she created the solution herself.

Adeola believed there had to be a better way of dispensing medicines whilst obtaining accurate healthcare advice from qualified pharmacists. So she developed OneHealth, an online pharmacy and digital healthcare platform in Nigeria enabling anyone to easily order medication to their homes from any smartphone. She credits her participation in the Google for Startups Accelerator Africa program for helping to improve her technical skillset to grow the business.

“The funniest thing is, I wasn’t even trying to become an entrepreneur, least of all a tech founder!” she says.

Overcoming this lack of technical expertise could have been a potential barrier, but Adeola was resourceful and knew she had to work from scratch whilst surrounding herself with a competent team of tech experts.

“I knew the importance of sourcing the best tech talent for the business, so I got my husband to help me network with key contacts in the technology industry. Now I work with a fantastic group of really motivated computer engineers who enable me to get on with my role as chief problem solver.”

Whilst the healthcare sector is diverse, the healthcare tech sector is still heavily male-dominated — particularly at the management level. Attempting to gain funding has been one of the more notable barriers and Adeola is aware of how woefully underfunded women are compared to their male counterparts. Acknowledging the inherent biases when it comes to female tech entrepreneurs securing investment, Adeola says women have to prove themselves so much more to secure funding. “I find investors tend to interrogate my business capability in a way they don’t necessarily do with male founders - there’s already an assumption that men possess business acumen,” she says.

The best way to overcome these biases is to let her extensive career as a pharmacist speak for itself so, hopefully, investors focus on her expertise rather than her gender.

“I’ve found that surrounding myself with a capable tech team bolsters my pitch to investors who may be sceptical of my lack of technical knowledge.”

Joining the Google For Startups Accelerator Africa

“The support and resources we gained from the accelerator were absolutely critical as it helped us with everything from product design templates, humanizing the website’s chatbot dialogue flow and accessing mentors who advised us on soft pivoting our business model to identify additional revenue streams,” she says.

A strong understanding of the benefits of search engine optimization has helped OneHealth build strong organic traffic helping them to reach over 60,000 visitors each month. Indeed, digital tools like social media have proven instrumental in the business growth with a Valentine-themed sexual health campaign garnering 1,000 leads for the company. As a result of applying the digital skills gained in the accelerator, OneHealth achieved its business goals and ultimately doubled revenue.

Adeola’s mission for OneHealth is to provide access to medicine and healthcare solutions for the long term survival of Africans. She hopes her business success will be an inspiration to young women on the continent, sceptical of entering the technology industry.

“We should always try to make the tech sector more inclusive and address the perception that technology is difficult and scary. When you empower yourself with digital tools from Google, you can learn how to run a tech business or find a tech adjacent career like a product manager. Once we accept that technology can be simple, we can encourage more girls to enter into the industry.”

58% of Africa’s entrepreneurs are women. That’s why we’re empowering them with the platform and tools to grow their businesses. #LookMeUp is a call for all to #BreakTheBias. Find out more here.

Helping Africans create their own opportunities

With African entrepreneurs raising more than $4 billion in funding in 2021, more than double the $1.5 billion raised in 2020, it’s clear investors around the globe are waking up to the continent’s potential. For some, like philanthropist Tony Elumelu, this growth is the validation of a long track record of backing African entrepreneurship.

Through the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), he has helped empower African entrepreneurs from across the continent. To date, TEF has distributed more than $85 million in grants for seed capital, and supported more than 1.5 million entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries through its proprietary digital platform, TEFConnect.net. Google is similarly enthusiastic about African startups and has supported them with funding, mentorship and skills development, among other things. That’s what makes it so exciting that TEF and Google’s paths are once again converging in 2022.

Last year, Google.org committed $3 million to the TEF to support an additional 500 female entrepreneurs across the continent. To further support the effort, this year, nine Google employees from Africa and Europe will devote six months of their time and expertise to TEF as part of the first Google.org Fellowship in Sub-Saharan Africa. Composed of engineers, user experience (UX) specialists and business and marketing managers, these Googlers will work with TEF full-time, pro bono, to build a new TEFConnect platform, equipped with new tools to help entrepreneurs access the resources they need to succeed.

We hope to support TEF in reaching one million more African entrepreneurs through the new TEFConnect, expected to launch later this year. The improved, more mobile-friendly TEFConnect platform will give those entrepreneurs access to a catalog of more curated educational resources, and more avenues for funding.

Additionally, as the world kicks off a month of celebration for International Women's Day, Google.org and The Tony Elumelu Foundation want to mark the occasion. As part of these collective celebrations, we will convene policymakers, private sector and entrepreneurs to engage in a discussion about entrepreneurship on the continent. We will hear from female entrepreneurs who have benefited from the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s support, as well as from notable leaders.

As the year 2022 progresses, we want to play a larger role in supporting the world's next generation of entrepreneurs. Africa's citizenry is youthful, optimistic and enterprising. There is so much to be gained by leveling the digital playing field and creating possibilities that will raise the ceiling for the continent’s population.

By bringing together people from the private and public sector and supporting entrepreneurs in areas that will make the most difference, we can go a long way to helping Africa’s entrepreneurs reach their full potential.

CEO Hilda Moraa’s plan to empower Africa’s entrepreneurs

Every morning, Hilda Moraa rises at 4 a.m for an early morning meditation and yoga routine, after which she’ll lose herself in a business podcast. “Discipline, structure and routine are very important to me as a founder,” she says.

She brings that same dedication to her work. Hilda is the founder of Pezesha, which is based in Kenya and an alumni of Google for Startups Accelerator Africa. Before the accelerator, Hilda was a part of the Google LaunchPad Programme, where she says Google’s resources and expertise enabled Pezesha to scale in new markets and ultimately experience 30% growth.

Before all of that, though, Pezesha was just an idea — one that Hilda was extremely motivated by. Poverty in Africa, and particularly in her home country of Kenya, is prevalent, and she wanted to be a part of changing it. “We launched Pezesha as a digital lending platform and we had this hugely ambitious idea of addressing unemployment and poverty in Africa.”

Pezesha’s lending infrastructure has three core services: Know Your Customer verification (KYC), credit scoring and embedded finance.

“By resolving the issue of small and medium enterprises securing working capital and gaining a credit score, I believe we can equip business owners with assets so they can compete and trade on a national scale.” Hilda hopes that empowering business owners will improve the economy as a whole. “There's much more of a ripple effect achieved so if you financially empower a business owner to meet their business goals, they can feed their family, employ people and ultimately support the wider community.”

Her ultimate goal is that Pezesha’s digital financial platform can address the $328 billion financing gap that exists for small and medium-sized businesses in Sub Saharan Africa — and that this, in turn, will create millions of job opportunities for African youths. At the moment, she’s still savoring the smaller wins. “My proudest moment to date would be helping more than 30,000 mid- and small business owners get a credit score and find affordable financing -- and these businesses have generated more than 10,000 jobs combined and our credit has propelled their business and prosperity to the next level”

“I am so inspired by my customers. They are the real-life heroes bringing their amazing visions to life — it’s so fulfilling to see the impact Pezesha has had on them.”

Hilda isn’t only excited to see her own company succeed; she sees her founder story as part of a new era for African businesses. “It’s truly a joy to see African entrepreneurs building successful businesses changing the narrative of Africa,” Hilda says. “ I am confident that we will continue to see a wave of unicorns emerge from Africa’s vibrant tech scene as we have continued to see Africa rise in the midst of the pandemic with more investments and success stories that show our future is here.”

Meet Mali – home of manuscripts, music and magic

Timbuktu is a city fabled to exist at the edge of the world, where the southern stretches of the Sahara desert end and a world of rich scholarly tradition, architectural wonder and abundant artistic creativity begins. In reality, it’s located in the West African country of Mali, a place filled to the brim with the kind of unmatched cultural richness that comes from traditions and influences from across the Sahara and Sahel melding together in harmony for centuries – all of which “Mali Magic” on Google Arts & Culture will share with you today.

Though popularly known as the historic home of Mansa Musa (the richest man in the world), the true magic of Mali doesn’t stem from these fractured fables so much as from the pillars that define its culture — its manuscripts, music, monuments and modern art — and their unbelievable resilience to human and environmental threats, thanks to the people’s quest to preserve their heritage.

M is for Mali

Mali’s story has often been told with attention to the violence and political unrest the nation has experienced, namely the 2012 coup and subsequent ten-month Jihadist occupation, which resulted in the destruction of many mausoleums, mosques and monuments, the burning of ancient manuscripts, and the breaking of instruments and cancelling of festivals to silence the music traditions that defined its culture. But the Malian people did not let their culture become a victim of destruction. From saving the ancient manuscripts that families protected for years from total destruction, to the contemporary artistic movements that are rising from times of turmoil, the resilience of Mali’s people and culture has been proven. Read more about their effort to preserve and digitize their libraries here.

Mali Magic on Google Arts & Culture shines a light on these heroic stories of resilience and presents Mali’s monuments, manuscripts, music and modern arts in a digital collection of sound and story like no other.

M is for Manuscripts

Long before the European Renaissance, the Malian city of Timbuktu — which at one point was home to a community of scholars that made up a quarter of its whole population — gave birth to an abundance of learning in the fields of morality, politics, astronomy, literature and more surprising topics like black magic and sex advice. This work was captured in thousands of precious manuscripts. These pages have redefined our understanding of African history; Dr. Abdel Kader Haidara, the ‘badass librarian’ known for smuggling the manuscripts out of Timbuktu when their safety was at risk, has said that "they have said that in Africa there is no written history. It’s been said that all the history of Africa is oral. We have more than 400,000 manuscripts here written uniquely by the hands of the hands of Africans. They will see this and say the opposite. It’s a true Renaissance."

Finally, the manuscripts have made their way from family libraries to the world stage: a spectacular collection of 40,000 decorated folios and beautifully scripted Timbuktu manuscripts have been brought to Google Arts & Culture for the world to explore online, and is at the heart of discussions and celebrations to be held in Bamako on March 12th and at the Brooklyn Public Library on March 17th.

M is for Music

From tribal song and dance accompanied by unique traditional instruments, captured on video by Instruments4Africa, to the Festival in the Desert that has hosted the likes of U2 and Mali’s own Fatoumata Diawara, Mali is a place infused with rhythm courtesy of a widespread passion for music. It’s even said that rock ‘n roll and the American blues are deeply rooted in Malian musical and myth-telling traditions.

Today, Mali’s music scene remains strong — musicians from all over Mali have united to cover the iconic Malian artist Ali Farka Touré’s beloved song Houwkuna, Grammy-award nominee Fatoumata Diawara ushers Mali to the front of the world music scene with her brand new EP, Maliba (‘The Great Mali’), and festivals and live concerts are held by the Timbuktu Renaissance and Instruments4Africa to keep soulful sounds and social cohesion alive.

M is for Monuments

A third layer of Mali’s unique cultural landscape is made up of its mosques, mausoleums and monuments. These structures are not just iterations of historic mud architectural styles and commemorations of past events; they are kept alive by the communities who have maintained them for centuries and the efforts to restore them after their recent destruction by those attempting to shake the foundations of Malian culture and identity.

From political unrest and the end of tourism to globalization and pollution, several factors threaten Mali’s monuments and its culture at large. Exploring the Great Mosque of Djenne in 3D, or the first ever Street View of Mali’s mosques and monuments, it’s clear that this built heritage is worth protecting and preserving for generations to come.

M is for Modern Art

Carrying out Mali’s lasting legacy of creativity and vibrant culture are the country’s incoming generation of contemporary artists. Painters, sculptors, and mixed-media creators reflect the color and chaos that they see in the world around them, entwining Mali’s expressive culture with their own unique perspectives, ambitions and explorations.

Addressing the difficulties and destruction that Mali has endured throughout both recent and colonial history, the country’s art scene might represent a space in which Mali’s past can be processed and, through culture and creativity, a future can be rebuilt.

“The day we admit that we lost everything for the profit of others; that day we can truly begin to rediscover ourselves,” says Malian contemporary artist Amadou Sanogo.

Discover more on g.co/MaliMagic online or through the Google Arts & Culture mobile app on iOS and Android.