APPLY: Google to Provide African SMEs with AI Training

Google has announced the opening of applications for the 2024 cohort of its Hustle Academy, a programme dedicated to accelerating the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to a statement on Thursday, applications are open to SMEs in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa, and the programme will run through the end of the year.

Google said the programme will introduce a significant upgrade, with business-focused AI training integrated directly into the curriculum.

The company said it will provide comprehensive business education, mentorship, and networking opportunities.

“SMBs are the backbone of Africa’s economy, yet many face challenges accessing funding and developing the essential skills needed to grow their businesses,” Google said.

“According to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), 40% of formal SMBs in developing countries have an unmet funding need of $5.2 trillion annually.

“The Hustle Academy aims to address this gap by providing comprehensive business education, mentorship, and networking opportunities.”

According to Google, since its launch in 2022, over 10,000 businesses have benefited from Hustle Academy.

“Participants who received grants nearly doubled their success rate in accessing new funding sources beyond friends and family, increasing from 11% to 20%,” Google said.

“The program has also spurred job creation, with an average of 4 new jobs for every 10 businesses that graduated.”

Kristy Grant, head of B2B marketing, sub-Saharan Africa at Google, said introducing AI to business will amplify impact and equip SMBs.

“Artificial intelligence (AI) holds immense potential for African small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), enabling them to drive innovation, increase efficiency, and unlock new levels of economic growth,” Grant said.

“The Hustle Academy has supported over 10,000 businesses who have gone ahead to raise funding and create jobs since inception.

“By incorporating AI into our curriculum, we aim to further amplify this impact, equipping SMBs to harness AI technologies for improved business performance and economic progress.”