Google’s new program, Digital Unlocked, is looking to bring millions of Indian small businesses online by offering free tutorials on how to setup and run a free website. According to a Google-KPMG report, as “of 2015, almost 70 percent of India’s 51 million SMBs had no online presence.” With these numbers, if Google can bring just a portion of these companies online, the benefit could result in billions of added revenue.
While the initiative is set to net the company huge gains in the expanding market, many roadblocks are still ahead. For starters, the biggest issue is clearly language.
Digital Unlocked’s online training, which explains how to set up a website for free and shares digital marketing tips, is composed of tutorials in English; the offline training will be offered both in Hindi and English. Most of India’s registered small to mid-size businesses (SMBs), however, are located in non-Hindi, non-English speaking places. Tamil Nadu alone is home to 40 percent of registered SMBs in India.
In addition to language, many Indian business are currently skeptical of the value of the internet. As one business owner put it, “People have been coming here since second and third generation.”
It may be true that some companies don’t need a huge website to sell hundreds of products, a basic website with information including prices, location, and values is definitely a plus especially when those can be done for little to no cost. Still 50 million potential customers is worth the risk and Google’s program is the right way to educate potential customers on the benefits of the internet and Google.