U.S-based technology and software firm; Google, announced a pledge of USD$10 million (approx. KSH1.1 billion) to support the economic post Covid-19 recovery in Kenya. The announcement was made by the company’s CEO, Mr. Sundar Pichai in an exclusive high-level virtual dialogue with H.E Uhuru Kenyatta, the President of the Republic of Kenya, organized by the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA).
“To continue to support the economic recovery in Kenya, we are committing USD$10 million to go towards loans for small businesses, support for tech startups, and grants for underserved communities. More to come on how we’ll help more people and businesses in Kenya and across Africa,” Pichai said during the meeting.
During the discussion, President Kenyatta underlined the notable impact of technology as a driver of growth in Kenya over the past 20 years. “Today as we speak, as a result of digitization, technology, internet penetration, almost 95% of all Kenyans have access to financial services as opposed to less than 20 years ago when only 25% of the population had a bank account,” he said.
Pichai shared Kenyatta’s optimism and emphasized Google’s commitment to supporting governments, businesses, and job seekers in Kenya and across Africa. Last year, in response to Covid-19, Google launched a USD$1 million grant for Kenyan women financially affected by the pandemic, a digital hub to help 300,000 Kenyan SMEs get online, and initiatives to help students learn remotely.
While stressing the need for collaboration in translating the facilitative role of technology in Kenya into economic opportunity and growth, Kenyatta said; “We want to work together, partnering with American companies and American companies partnering with Kenyan SMEs. This is where the true growth potential exists so that the facilitative work we have done is actually now leapfrogged upon by the opportunities created by the linkages that we can establish, through the work of, for example, the Corporate Council on Africa.”
Pichai breaking down how the USD$10 million will be spent, said; USD$5 million will go towards supporting technology startups to help them grow and develop, USD$3 million to SMEs, and USD$2 million to local non -profits which are serving underserved communities in Kenya. He added that there are other several investments lined up for Kenya.
CCA President and CEO, Ms. Florizelle Liser noted the significance of U.S—Africa partnership, stating, “If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it is that we are better off working together, and our ability to collaborate is critical for post pandemic economic recovery both here in the United States and in Africa.”
She concluded the discussion by restating CCA’s commitment to promoting linkages between Kenyan SMEs and U.S. markets. She noted that working with the Joe Biden’s administration, CCA will continue to engage and support its member companies, U.S. and African public and private sector partners —working together to drive economic recovery and develop solutions to promote investment and economic development in Africa.