Monday, December 6, 2010

One Day, 200 Nigerian Businesses Online

There I stood, in front of my first group of 100 small business owners at ChamsCity, the world's largest cybercafe, in Lagos, Nigeria. I had just been informed that none of the equipment I thought I would have was functional. No projector and only a broken microphone. And then, to top it off, due to a last minute schedule change, I was going to be giving the entire workshop rather than just the second half. Lovely. If I were going to pull this off, I would need to be quick on my feet.

And yet, despite the hiccups, when all was said and done, the day worked out pretty well. By the time these 200 small business owners left, they had started using Google Apps, making a website, and registering their business with Google Maps.

The event was the culmination of weeks of work, and from the preliminary feedback, the reactions were generally positive. Get African Business Online, or GABO as we call it, is part of Google's larger initiative to make the Internet more useful and relevant to Africans. As I discussed in my post on the topic, there is a dearth of African content on the Internet, and Google views this as a major hurdle to Internet update. While 200 small business websites is but a drop in the bucket, it's been an instructive first step. We had business owners from just about every field you could imagine, from PR to manufacturing, from travel agencies to photographers, and we gathered a vast array of feedback about what's important, what's not, and where we should move next.

The whole GABO team.

The team of developers helping the small business owners.

Now onto the hard part: taking the lessons of the day and figuring out how to scale the initiative across the entire African continent. Never a boring day at work; that's for sure.

1 comment:

Randy said...

Glad the day worked out well! Thanks for this consistently interesting blog, Ben! - Randy