Google makes commitment to help 60,000 Irish small businesses recover

Irish News, Rebooting Ireland | Tue 29 Sep | Author – Business & Finance
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Google commits to helping 60,000 Irish small and medium enterprises (SMEs) recover by helping them grow online

Google Ireland has committed to supporting 60,000 Irish SMEs as they embark on recovery from the financial impacts of COVID-19. To do so, the company is announcing a package of tools, supports, and partnerships in addition to vital funding.

The coronavirus pandemic has altered consumer behaviour. This has posed real challenges for businesses that rely on face-to-face interaction. As such, Google has announced ‘Grow with Google,‘ a series of supports to enable businesses to adapt by learning how to operate online. This could mean reaching new customers online, selling online for the first time, expanding to international markets or learning how to run a team virtually.

Google’s ‘Grow with Google’ initiative has been specifically designed to help these businesses rebuild by enabling them to engage with new and existing customers online.

Welcomed by ISME, the representative association for Irish SMEs, Google’s ‘Grow with Google’ initiative has been specifically designed to help these businesses rebuild by enabling them to engage with new and existing customers online. SMEs will have access to free tools and training, as well as financial support in the form of €4 million of advertising credits and grants for NGOs.

Neil McDonnell, CEO, ISME, said: “We are delighted to endorse Google’s commitment to Irish SMEs. The impact of COVID-19 has been severe for businesses across all sectors, and while we know that sentiment among businesses is rising, the future remains uncertain and the coming months will certainly be challenging.

“The ‘Grow with Google’ supports and initiatives announced today will be invaluable for businesses to help them become more resilient as they recover from the Coronavirus crisis, and simultaneously prepare for the potential impacts of Brexit. We are encouraging all SMEs to leverage the opportunity to engage with Google now to gain new, vital skills and insights that will stand to them not only now, but into the future.”

The ‘Grow with Google’ supports and initiatives announced today will be invaluable for businesses to help them become more resilient as they recover from the Coronavirus crisis.

According to Google, 8,000 Irish people have already enhanced their digital skills through the program. The multinational technology company has committed to helping an additional 40,000 people by the end of 2021.

Google will also partner with Irish organisations such as The Dublin Chamber of Commerce and the Gaelic Players Association to make additional digital skills training free and easy to access for Irish businesses.

One business that has seen success from enhancing digital skills is Rathwood Home & Garden. Patrick and Carmel Keogh established Rathwood furniture and garden centre in Carlow in 1994, converting 15 acres of land and a potato shed into a shopping emporium and events centre. The business, which is now run by their two sons, Thomas and James, is still based on the original site, and also sells furniture in a number of other family-owned businesses throughout the country. As Thomas explained, “we knew we would need to close the physical store when COVID hit, so we were looking for a way to continue operating as a business and increase our sales online. I reached out to Google to understand what consumers were looking for, and how the business could operate better online.”

He continued: “While our physical shop in Carlow was closed, we discovered quickly that Irish people were looking for furniture online, particularly garden furniture, to adapt their living spaces. Through our website and digital operations, we were able not only to keep operating but drive significant online sales. Google was a perfect fit for us, helping us find new customers during a tough situation. We’re now working with Google to expand our business in the UK, as well as increase our presence throughout Ireland.”

Small businesses … form the backbone of the Irish economy. At Google, we have always been committed to supporting small businesses.

Alice Mansergh, Director of Small Businesses, Google Ireland, said: “Small businesses like Rathwood form the backbone of the Irish economy. At Google, we have always been committed to supporting small businesses and every day I get the opportunity to see the creativity and resilience of Irish SMEs firsthand. However, the pandemic has resulted in some specific challenges for Irish businesses, and we felt Google has the expertise to help.

“Through our ‘Grow with Google’ programme, we will help SMEs and NGOs grow their digital skills, empowering them to adapt and operate effectively within the confines of the current environment. Despite the ongoing uncertainty, we want to show that having an online presence can have a transformative impact on offline businesses, not just now, but into the future. I’m very excited for us to offer help and support to the incredible Irish business owners out there, to help them to succeed.”

Also welcoming the announcement, John Moran, Chairman of SME Recovery Ireland said:  “Many Irish SMEs are really suffering at the moment. Google’s commitment to help them couldn’t come at a more critical time. We are delighted to endorse Grow with Google which will assist struggling SMEs to navigate the coming months and access new customers. Finding new ways and new partners to build resilience will give confidence to business owners as they battle the months ahead. It is great to see Google leading from the front in that regard.”