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By Our Correspondent: In continuation of Google India’s commitment to digitally empower India’s small and medium business community, the company showcased a range of programs and products that will enable SMBs in Kolkata leverage the power of internet and technology to become successful. At an event held in Kolkata on Tuesday, Google announced the East region winners of SMB Heroes 2017, a nationwide program to showcase and celebrate small and medium businesses that have embraced the internet to power their growth. The SMB Heroes Awards received an overwhelming response with entries from over 142cities including cities like Hoshiarpur, Rajkot, Rajamundhry, Jamshedpur, Coimbatore, Hisar, Bhimavaram and many more. The two businesses that emerged as east region winners under each of the categories are: Maanav Saraf for Gainwell Holidays and Madhumita Bagchi for Gab Project. The winners were felicitated by Mr. Vijay Bharti, IAS , Director MSME, Government of West Bengal and Mr. Yogesh Andlay, Co-Chair of FICCI Startup Committee and Founder Director, Nucleus Software Engineers along with Shalini Girish, Director – Google Marketing Solutions and are now in the running for the national finals that will be held in Delhi later this year. Addressing an audience of local SMBs and highlighting the importance of digital, Shalini Girish, Director - Marketing Solutions, Google said,“India now has 400 million internet users, and this has had a transformational impact on how people consume information, connect with one another and find businesses. We see the internet as a great democratizing force that breaks down barriers of language and location. The business journeys of the SMB Heroes winners are a great testament to this, as each of them have leveraged technology to address challenges and grow their businesses.” Emphasizing the need to focus on building the technology capabilities of Indian SMBs, Google shared findings from a joint research study with KPMG titled "Impact of internet and digitization on SMBs in India". The study reiterates that 68% of the 51m Indian SMBs are offline; and, digitally engaged SMBs grow twice as fast compared to offline SMBs. According to the report, digitally engaged businesses are able to grow their customer base significantly with 52% catering to customers beyond their home city versus only 29% offline SMBs. Highlighting the macro-economic impact of the internet, the research found that rising penetration and greater uptake for digital by SMBs could help increase their contribution to India’s GDP by 10 percentage points, taking it up to 46-48% by 2020. The report cites the lack of understanding of the benefits of digital technologies and technical skills as the essential reasons for being offline. Digital Skills Training - web, mobile and in classrooms Recognizing the need to address this gap, Google India commenced Digital Unlocked an online, offline and mobile training program to empower thousands of Indian SMBs with essential digital skills. Today, Google India hosted a training workshop in Kolkata, where over 60local small businesses were certified on a range of topics including building a digital campaign and using web analytics, among others. The Digital Unlocked program has been designed keeping the varied learning needs of the millions of businesses in India. The offline training is being conducted in partnership with FICCI and over the next three years, 5,000 workshops will be held across 40 Indian cities. The online training comprises a set of 90 self-paced video tutorials, curated specifically for India and is available free of charge at g.co/digitalunlocked. The tutorials cover a comprehensive set of topics ranging from building a web presence and driving online growth to reaching customers over mobile and video. The trainings are certified by Google, Indian School of Business and FICCI. Since its launch in January 2017, over 13,000 businesses are now certified. Further, for India’s mobile-first audience, Google has recently launched Primer, afree mobile app designed to teach digital marketing skills in a quick, easy and interactive way. It is available for download through the Google Play and iOS app store. Primer also works offline and is available in English and Hindi with Tamil, Telugu and Marathi versions coming shortly. In the last few months, Primer has been downloaded over 1.5 million times. Creating a business website in less than 10 minutes At the event, Google launched 'Website with Google my Business' which is aimed at equipping the vast majority of small businesses with a simple way to start their digital journey by creating a free, mobile optimised website - easily and instantly. Available for Google My Business users, this new feature will provide simple, templated, editable websites for small businesses created from their data and photos on Google Maps. 'Website with Google my Business' will be available in English, Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Kannada, and Malayalam. Over 120,000 Indian businesses were initially part of the pilot rollout program.
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