Free Google initiative aims to get small businesses online

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25 Mar, 2011 Updated Fri 25 Mar 2011 10:23 CEST
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Small and medium-sized businesses make up the backbone of Germany’s economy, but few are active online. An initiative led by search engine Google hopes to change this by offering free educational events and online tutorials on building websites.

“Online Motor Deutschland” hopes to make getting online more palatable for the Mittelstand, Google Germany manager Stefan Tweraser said on Thursday in Berlin.

“We believe that the economic motor of small and medium-sized businesses can also be the internet motor in Germany,” he said.

This year, the initiative will tour the country’s 10 largest cities to meet with business owners about getting online. Participants at the big tent events will receive coupons for online services worth €1,000, including 12 months of free website hosting on Strato, and advertising worth €100 with Google, the company said.

The project, which will cost a “multi-million euro sum,” has no concrete expectations for a boost in online turnover, though.

“Our goal is to really provide an impulse by which the German Mittelstand recognizes the internet as an opportunity,” Tweraser said.

About half of the internet giant’s revenues come from businesses that fit into this category, acknowledging that “what’s good for the internet is also good for Google in the end.”

Currently, 58 percent of the target businesses have their own websites, while only 13 percent market their products there, Google estimates.

“Those who don’t have a website nowadays won’t be found, and won’t exist to a lot of people,” said Damian Schmidt, head of Europe’s second-largest web host Strato, which has partnered with Google and other companies on the project.

The three-day events running from April through September will stop in Munich, Nuremberg, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Cologne, Hannover, Leipzig, Essen, Hamburg and Berlin.




2011/03/25 10:23

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