Google’s “Woza Online” reaches 250,000 milestone

Google South Africa’s Woza Online initiative has assisted over 250,000 South African small businesses set up websites for free since its launch in January, 2012.

The milestone was announced at a local small business event in Soweto (South Africa) where the search engine giant and a number of businesses in the area showcased their success since using the Woza Online service.
The event was held at Chaf Pozi, which is a restaurant and shebeen in Soweto that has recently set up its own website using the service.

While commenting on Soweto’s thriving small business environment, Luke Mckend, Google SA Country Manager, said:“It is energising to be amongst talented entrepreneurs and to see how getting online is helping small businesses in Soweto boost their revenues and expand their customer bases.”
Mckend stated that the company is also pleased to unveil a new search function on the Woze Online homepage, which allows users to search easily for Woza Online sites.

“For example, you can now find your local plumber, electrician or bakery even more easily,” he added.
Woza Online is a joint initiative by Google, the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), Vodacom and the Human Resources Development Council. The project aims to help South African SMEs create their own websites, in turn boosting SME turnovers, SA job creation and economic growth.
Bafedile Mokoena, owner of the 25 000th small business to sign up to the service was excited about what the future will hold now that her strategic communications company, Pruben, is online and expressed that the service is a great initiative as it gives start-up companies the opportunity to get exposure without having to pay exorbitant fees.
Chris Lazarus, Managing Executive Enterprise, Commercial Development at Vodacom said “Small businesses form a critical part of South Africa’s economy, and research has shown that SMEs with websites are far more likely to be profitable than those without. Being part of the Woza Online initiative is exciting because business owners can create an online presence with simple steps in under an hour.”
One of the small business owners, who owns and runs a guest house, discussed the importance of establishing an online presence. He said that his guesthouse now has a number of international guests staying with them and that the number is growing steadily. He believes Woza Online has not only improved his business but has also assisted with the growth of tourism in Soweto and South Africa.

Google has launched similar initiatives in 27 other countries around the world from Great Britain, Canada, and Australia to Brazil, Indonesia, France, and Poland, bringing 400,000 businesses online over two years.

In Africa, the programme was launched in Kenya and Nigeria last year, and together with South Africa, the programme has already seen more than 80,000 small businesses publish websites.

Businesses participating in the Woza Online initiative get:

*A free website;

*a free sub-domain name and hosting;

*an automatic listing on Google Places which reflects in Google Maps;

*access to training material and workshops;

*free online support available via Google Chat and email;

*one year free top-level .co.za domain name for first 10,000 applicants.

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