18 December, 2017 Fostering Growth: How Google.org Is Giving Back To Africa
oogle’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, is injecting a huge amount of money into Africa in the hopes of fostering tech skills and growth.
When it comes to challenges, Africa has no shortage. From poverty to war, the continent is battling problems in every country. And, while the social and economic pitfalls might be well known, we don’t often talk about another growing problem: the youth bulge. It’s been widely reported that Africa has the largest youth population in the world, with some 200 million people between the ages of 15 and 24, according to the UN. And it looks as though this figure is only going to get larger; according to Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, “by the year 2034, Africa is expected to have a working age population of around 1.1 billion people,” reports Inside Philanthropy.
Sure, a growing youth population can be beneficial; it increases the workforce and therefore the per capita income, and creates domestic demand. But, in the case of the African youth bulge, it’s also packed with its own challenges. As the working age population increases, there will be a severe lack of jobs available to young people. As it stands, says Google, the continent creates only 3 to 4 million jobs each year. “Consequently, many of the youth are forced to take up menial jobs and the continent faces high levels of underemployment,” says International Finance Magazine.
One way to combat the fact that the workforce is larger than the job pool is to encourage entrepreneurship, boost skills, and foster social innovation – which is exactly what tech giant Google is doing in the continent. Last month, Google.org announced a commitment of $20 million to nonprofits over the next five years, to help improve lives for the African youth population. Initial grants totaling $2.5 million were awarded to the nonprofit arms of African startups Gidi Mobile and Siyavula, which will use the funds to provide free access to digital learning for 400 000 low-income students in South Africa and Nigeria. In 2018, Google.org will also launch the Google.org Impact Challenge, which invites nonprofits to share their ideas on how to impact the economy and community, with the aim of awarding $5 million in grants to the selected African nonprofits.
Alongside that, they are launching their global Launchpad Accelerator Program in Lagos. Intensive three-month programmes, held twice a year, will provide more than $3 million in equity-free funding, mentorship, working space and access to expert advisors to more than 60 African start ups over three years. “We want to do more to support African entrepreneurs in building successful technology companies and products,” says Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor, Google’s country manager in Nigeria.
With all this opportunity injected into Africa, it will be up to African nonprofits and startups to truly find innovative ways to help the community – and create jobs. “What Africa needs now is social entrepreneurs who are actively working to create jobs, and create work that will benefit the local community,” says pioneering philanthropist of The Philanthropic Collection, Ali Gregg. “Our focus, for example, is on creating Events like The CEO SleepOut™, which raise funds for Beneficiaries, and create jobs for the local workforce. Over 2000 jobs are created and sustained throughout the year through this Event.” The world is turning its spotlight on Africa, and while challenges grow, so do opportunities. We just have to find unique, innovative ways to take advantage of them.
– By The Philanthropic Collection –
The Philanthropic Collection™ is a boutique social enterprise,
where we tailor haute-couture brands for philanthropy.