Wherever my job takes me, I look for stories of local entrepreneurs and business owners doing really interesting and creative things online.
On a recent visit to the MENA region, for instance, I was blown away by the energy and excitement around the new digital opportunity. Of the many success stories I heard, I’d like to share a couple with you.
Sarah Abdullah, creator of MakookyWorld, left her job in advertising to follow her dream to publish Arabic content for children using interactive technology. She built a mobile app and used Google’s platforms to grow.
With more than 100,000 downloads on the Google Play store and six million views for her YouTube channel, she was able to expand her business to build a small team – and, more importantly, is now doing something that really matters to her.
Another story is that of Waleed Abd El Rahman, creator of Mumm, an online food-delivery platform. Based in Egypt, El Rahman partners with women, especially stay-at-home mums, to deliver fresh, home-cooked meals to customers.
El Rahman used Google AdWords to reach customers all around Egypt when people were searching for food delivery online. In just one year, food orders grew 10 times and the company has created 110 jobs and delivered meals to over 7,000 customers.
Abdullah and El Rahman are two of many successful start-ups in MENA that have grown their businesses and embraced the online opportunity. Core to Google’s mission is making sure people have access to digital skills because we believe new skills lead to new opportunities.
Three years ago, we announced Grow with Google, a global initiative that aims to create more opportunity through the products and programmes created by Google. We provide free training courses, tools and in-person coaching to help people get the right skills to find a job, advance their careers or grow their businesses. We’ve already trained three million Europeans, and more than two million people in Africa.
This is not just something to put on your CV, but real skills that can have a profound economic impact on those who take part.
We asked Grow with Google trainees about the impact they saw on their career or business 14 weeks after their training over the past three years. More than 190,000 Europeans have found a job or started a business as a result of the training.
We’re playing our part around the world, but also in the Middle East & North Africa, a region we’re very excited about. The region is young, smart and increasingly digital. More than 200 million people are now online (50 percent of the total population), while 60 percent of the population is under the age of 30 and millions more women are joining the workforce.
The opportunity to grow the economy using digital tools and skills is now enormous.
But many don’t have basic digital skills. Research shows that as soon as 2020, one in five jobs in the Arab world will require skills that aren’t widely available in the workforce today. In the GCC alone, up to three million jobs will be at risk by 2025 because of this skills gap. Even more striking is more than half of university graduates are female, yet only a quarter participate in the workforce.
One of the remarkable things about digital technology is that anyone with a great idea can use the power of the web to invent the future and launch the next big thing.
It’s why we launched Maharat Min Google, a free digital skills building programme that offers learning both online and in-person for Arabic speakers.
Maharat Min Google’s online platform is all in Arabic and offers new skillsets on everything from building a website to boosting your social media presence and marketing your business around the world. Students and teachers can learn how to put the latest technology to work inside and outside the classroom; small business owners can build their online presence and find new customers; job seekers can grow their skills in order to find jobs; nonprofits can grow their funding and increase their impact.
Basically, we’ve taken the best bits from all our Grow with Google courses and all our experience of the programme and shaped it for the Arab world. Through local partnerships with the private sector, NGOs, governments and educators, we want to roll out in-person training in order to reach and help more women, whose contribution to the economy can have a profound impact.
There has really never been a better time to learn and to be an entrepreneur in MENA. Today, every business is a digital business – because every customer is a digital customer. And thanks to the digital revolution, every business can be a global business.
When many of us were growing up, small businesses were local businesses. They could only afford to source and sell locally. Global marketing, distribution and talent were out of reach for all but the biggest. Not anymore. It used to be only multinationals could afford the latest and best technology. Today, with digital tools built for billions – email, documents, cloud storage, search and marketing – building up your business to go global has never been easier or cheaper.
We know how valuable digital tools are to MENA’s future and Google is proud to be an engine supporting growth in this region. The region is young, smart and digital. And we are excited to see what great things people can do here when given the right tools and skills.
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