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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 25 February 2021

Google pledges $75m in aid for Covid-hit businesses globally

The grant is part of an $800m commitment the Alphabet-owned company made last year to support businesses affected by the pandemic

In January, Google announced a grant of more than $150 million to promote awareness about the Covid-19 vaccine and ensure its equitable distribution. AP
In January, Google announced a grant of more than $150 million to promote awareness about the Covid-19 vaccine and ensure its equitable distribution. AP

Google has partnered with the European Investment Fund and organisations in Latin America and Asia to disburse $75 million in financial aid to small and medium enterprises that are affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The grant is part of an $800m commitment the Alphabet-owned company announced in March to support businesses that were affected by the pandemic.

The search engine company will invest in two EIF funds – $15m in loan capital that will support more than 1,000 European small businesses and $10m in a venture capital fund that will help nearly 200 life sciences companies.

Part of the European Investment Bank group, the Luxembourg-based EIF does not directly lend money to SMEs but provides loans through private banks and funds.

“We set out to partner with organisations who share our desire to empower small businesses in underserved communities, which are often overlooked by traditional lenders,” Juan Rajlin, vice president and treasurer of Alphabet and Google, said.

“We have partnered … with the belief that public-private partnerships can provide creative solutions to meet the needs of small businesses in this critical time.”

Nearly 55 per cent of small and medium businesses around the world reported lower sales last October compared with the same month in 2019 after facing disruptions caused by Covid-19, according to a survey by Facebook, the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

In Latin America, Google has teamed up with the Inter-American Development Bank to distribute $8m to eligible businesses in the region.

“Two out of three workers in Latin America are employed by a small business, which makes their success one of the most essential elements for economic recovery in the region,” Mr Rajlin said.

Google is also working with global non-government partners to provide resources to businesses.

It has set up a $26m loan initiative with San Francisco-based Kiva, which allows people to lend money through the internet to low-income entrepreneurs in 77 countries, to facilitate businesses in Africa, Middle East and Indonesia.

Both entities will work together to create “financial solutions” to support “thousands of small businesses” in 10 countries, Mr Rajlin said.

Google has also announced a separate $1m grant to help Kiva build capacity for local partnerships.

In India, the company will invest $15m to fund SMEs and is in discussions with local partners. It will also provide $1m to the Ogen-Israel social loan fund that gives low-interest loans to micro and small businesses in Israel.

Google also announced last month that it was setting up a grant of more than $150m to promote awareness about the Covid-19 vaccine and ensure its equitable distribution.

Published: February 18, 2021 12:26 PM

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