In Friday's post, I started this look at the expansion of Google's Get Your Business Online initiative into emerging markets in India and Africa. I contended in the post that the potential economic impact is immense here. Consider the numbers. Of an estimated 8 million small businesses operating in India, there are roughly 400,000 or 5% that have websites, according to the official Google India Blog. There is obviously considerable opportunity for many more companies to get online and grow their businesses.
The penetration rate of the internet in the country is only 10.2%, however, this number will likely rise and can do so quickly with the massive growth in smartphones. Google India hopes to get 500,000 businesses online with the initiative over the next three years effectively doubling the web presence of Indian businesses, and it is well-positioned to do so. With the influx of these businesses, a real implication is the growing need for SEO services provided by local companies as well as those abroad that can deliver international SEO services.
Turning our attention to Africa, programs have been started in Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria, all having the same structure and intent. Like in India, the initiative has enormous potential. In Ghana, SMEs account for 92% of all businesses and contribute 70% of GDP, while in Kenya they contribute over 80% to the GDP and employ over 5 million people, all according to the Google Africa Blog. Also, there may be additional benefits that result as well: spill-over effects impacting development in other sectors. The presence of businesses online can positively grow communications and internet access in places where the technology has the most applicability. This paired with other programs like the Internet Bus in India which was implemented to widen the exposure of the internet can bring the medium to more people.
Further, according to research by McKinsey & Company, SMEs that use the web to a high degree double their growth and exports. As such, the potential impact is substantial to boost the internal strength of the economies of these countries and prove as catalysts going forward, encouraging greater outside interest and investment.
The Get Your Business Online initiative is also partnering with the Federation of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (FISME), a nonprofit organization that assists SMEs get online in the same way. Joining together reinforces each entity's efforts and solidifies Google's intentions and presence in the local context, which is always a large part of gaining acceptance and support from the local audience, and in this case, customers. Industry experts and SEO companies will be tracking the progress of these initiatives both to measure the growth of the internet in these emerging markets and the opportunity for delivering their services to the growing mass of SMEs with a web presence.