Google is attempting to shake-off its image as an all-conquering technology giant which steamrollers everything in its path with a new initiative designed to help one million small businesses and charities in the UK stay open during the Covid-19 crisis, by providing training on their online operations.
The US company is to offer 10,000 hours of free mentoring over the course of 12 months as well as £25 million worth of advertising credits and grants, which will be distributed to small businesses, government agencies and NGOs.
Google has also vowed to upskill 100,000 people in digital skills by the end of 2021, as a part of the Google Digital Garage free training programme.
Google UK managing director Ronan Harris called the UK local businesses "the lifeblood" of the community, insisting that "like millions up and down the country, we want to help small businesses both survive and thrive".
He added: "Through this programme we’re aiming to upskill SMEs and charities by helping them adapt to operating in a post lockdown environment. Despite the ongoing uncertainty, we want to show that having an online presence can have a transformative impact on offline businesses."
According to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, SMEs account for three-fifths of the employment in the UK and for around half of the turnover in the UK private sector. They also account for 99% of all UK firms.
However, a survey carried out by Simply Business survey recently revealed that Covid-19 will cost UK SMEs over £69 billion, and over 230,000 have already been forced to permanently stop trading.