To date, the Woza Online initiative has successfully helped over 25 000 South African small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) set up websites easily and for free since its launch in January this year – equivalent to one new website being published every 10 minutes. This was announced at a local SME event in Soweto, where a number of businesses in the area showcased their success since using the Woza Online service.
Woza Online is a joint initiative by Google, the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), Vodacom and the Human Resources Development Council. The project aims to help South African SMEs create their own websites, in turn boosting SME turnovers, SA job creation and economic growth.
Speaking at the event – held at Chaf Pozi, a local restaurant and shebeen that has recently set up its own website – Luke Mckend, Google SA Country Manager recognised Soweto’s thriving SME environment. “It is energising to be amongst talented entrepreneurs and to see how getting online is helping small businesses in Soweto boost their revenues and expand their customer bases.”
“We are also pleased to unveil a new search function on the Woze Online homepage, which allows users to search easily for Woza Online sites. For example, you can now find your local plumber, electrician or bakery even more easily.”
Said Chris Lazarus, Managing Executive Enterprise, Commercial Development at Vodacom: “Small businesses form a critical part of South Africa’s economy, and research has shown that SMEs with websites are far more likely to be profitable than those without. Being part of the Woza Online initiative is exciting because business owners can create an online presence with simple steps in under an hour.”
Phineas Kutumela, owner of Pimville Guesthouse, was part of the SME panel discussing the importance of establishing an online presence. “We now have a number of international guests staying with us and that number is growing steadily. Woza Online has not only improved our business but has also assisted with the growth of tourism in Soweto and South Africa.”
Bafedile Mokoena, owner of the 25 000th SME to sign up, is excited about what the future will hold now that her strategic communications company, Pruben, is online. “Woza Online is a great initiative as it gives start-up companies the opportunity to get exposure without having to pay exorbitant fees.”
Google has launched similar initiatives in 27 other countries around the world from Great Britain, Canada, and Australia to Brazil, Indonesia, France, and Poland, bringing 400,000 businesses online over two years. In Africa, the programme was launched in Kenya and Nigeria last year, and together with South Africa, the programme has already seen more than 80,000 SMEs publish websites.
Businesses participating in the Woza Online initiative get:
· 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 .co.za domain name for first 10,000 applicants
To find out more visit www.wozaonline.co.za