Google's Hustle Academy transitions with AI focus

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 09 May 2024
Last year’s graduates of the Google Hustle Academy.
Last year’s graduates of the Google Hustle Academy.

Google has opened applications for the 2024 cohort of its Hustle Academy, a programme dedicated to accelerating the growth of small and medium businesses (SMBs) in Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to a statement, this year, the initiative introduces a significant upgrade: business-focused artificial intelligence (AI) training integrated into the curriculum.

The Hustle Academy aims to provide comprehensive business education, mentorship and networking opportunities.

The five-day virtual bootcamp provides training modules in various topics, such as business strategy, business development, digital marketing, financial planning and how to draw up successful pitches.

Since its launch in 2022, over 10 000 businesses have benefited from the programme, according to Google.

Participants who received grants nearly doubled their success rate in accessing new funding sources beyond friends and family, increasing from 11% to 20%. The programme has also spurred job creation, with an average of four new jobs for every 10 businesses that graduated, it notes.

SMBs are the backbone of Africa's economy, yet many face challenges accessing funding and developing the essential skills needed to grow their businesses. According to the International Finance Corporation, 40% of formal SMBs in developing countries have an unmet funding need of an estimated $5.2 trillion annually.

Kristy Grant, head of B2B marketing at Google SSA, comments: “Artificial intelligence holds immense potential for African SMBs, enabling them to drive innovation, increase efficiency and unlock new levels of economic growth.

“The Hustle Academy has supported over 10 000 businesses that have gone ahead to raise funding and create jobs since inception. By incorporating AI into our curriculum, we aim to further amplify this impact, equipping SMBs to harness AI technologies for improved business performance and economic progress.”

A total of 5 300 African SMBs graduated from the Google Hustle Academy bootcamp last year.

According to Google, the new AI modules focus on data-driven decisions, optimising operations and building AI-powered marketing strategies.

Participants will explore practical applications, learning how to save time and supercharge digital outreach.

Applications for the 2024 Hustle Academy cohort are open to SMBs in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. The programme will run through the end of the year. For more information and to apply, visit the Hustle Academy website.