Google is starting new projects to provide financial help to small businesses, certifications to bridge the digital skill gap and improve access to information for local language users, the company said at the 7th Google for India event on Thursday.
Google has supported many India-first initiatives in the past. It includes making smartphones accessible to more users through Android Go phones and more recently with the JioPhone Next. Google has also made many of its services available in multiple Indian languages.
To help small businesses adopt digital technologies, in 2020 Google announced the $10 billion digitization fund.
Here are the key announcements made by Alphabet Inc. at Google for India 2021.
Google has joined hands with the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) to start a financial assistance plan with a corpus of Rs 110 crore for micro-enterprises in the country.
Businesses owned by women and those working on building equipment to fight Covid-19 will be given priority, Google said.
The plan will allow micro-enterprises to take out loans of Rs 25 lakh to Rs 1 crore at competitive interest rates. This would help them purchase new machinery and equipment and set up production infrastructure.
According to Sivasubramanian Ramann, Chairman & Managing Director, SIDBI, the goal of the program is to "reinvigorate the MSME sector in India."
Boost for local language users
For users who prefer to communicate in local languages, Google has made some changes in Search.
Now, if Google cannot find websites that have information in the same language, it will find pages in other languages and translate them into the language of the user’s query.
The company is also starting a Google Assistant-enabled vaccine booking flow that will guide users through the vaccination booking process on the CoWIN website using voice guidance in English and eight Indian languages.
"The number of Indians using voice queries daily is nearly two times the global average, and one-third of Google Assistant users in India are communicating with it in local languages for big and small needs,"
as per Prabhakar Raghavan, Senior Vice President, Google.
Google is also launching a feature in India that will read aloud search results in Hinglish and five Indian languages including Hindi, Bangla, Marathi, Telugu, and Tamil.
Making payments easy
Though the adoption of digital payments has grown in India, a large part of the population is still not very comfortable using them. To ensure users don't face any discomfort while using Google Pay due to the language barrier, Google has added an option to select Hinglish as the preferred language.
Google also said that it is going to add speech-to-text support, allowing users to use voice as input for adding account numbers into the app. Another feature that will enable users to split bills for shared expenses with a group will also be added soon.
According to Nasscom, by 2024, requirements for digital skills will be 20 times more than talent available in India.
To address the digital skills gap for both job seekers and businesses, Google said it will offer 100,000 Google Career Certificate scholarships.
Apart from Google, the certificates will be recognized by Accenture in India, Tech Mahindra, Wipro, Genpact, Times Internet, and Better.com.
Google will also help applicants learn business skills, build resumes and prepare for job interviews.