Google launches Woza Online: Free websites for SA businesses

Google has launched a service that will allow small and medium-sized South African businesses to build their own websites for free. The internet giant claims that the initiative, called Woza Online, will give businesses “the opportunity to create their own websites… and develop an online presence — for free, and in under an hour”.

Google says that having a website means more success for small businesses — so it’s driving home the point by offering them for free.

The search giant cites statistics by World Wide Worx, one of South Africa’s leading technology research companies. The research found that 79% of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) “with a website reported profitability, whereas only 59% of SMEs without a website reported the same”.

Among the benefits Google claims businesses will get from the move, are:

  • a free easy-to-build professional website
  • a free sub-domain name and hosting
  • an automatic listing on Google Places which reflects in Google Maps
  • access to training material and workshops
  • free online support available via Google Chat and email
  • 1 year free top-level domain name for first 10 000 applicants

Google says that Woza Online was developed in partnership with a number of key players in the South African tech and development scene, including the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI), mobile communications giant Vodacom and the Human Resources Development Council (HRDC). It also reportedly has the support of Lead SA, an initiative by the Primedia Broadcasting and Independent Group of Newspapers “that aims to mobilise change among South Africans for the benefit of the country”.

“We believe that the power of the internet will help small businesses in South Africa to grow, and will help entrepreneurs thrive, by bringing more local information online and making it accessible,” says Luke Mckend, Country Manager for Google South Africa.

“The Woza Online process is simple and business owners can be online in less than an hour — whether you sell transport services, cakes, crafts or electronics, locally or internationally.”

Google has launched similar initiatives in 23 other countries, including Great Britain, Canada, and Australia to Brazil, Indonesia, France, and Poland.

South Africa is the third country in Africa to receive the programme after launches were held in Kenya and Nigeria in 2011. Google claims that its global programmes have brought some 400 000 businesses online in the past two years.



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