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Google awards $25m to organisations supporting girls, women

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Recipients of the Google.org Impact Challenge for Women and Girls grant.
Recipients of the Google.org Impact Challenge for Women and Girls grant.

South African tech start-ups Q Network and Dream Factory Foundation are among 34 global recipients of the Google.org Impact Challenge for Women and Girls award, and will receive their share of $25 million in grant funding.

The global philanthropy challenge was launched in March by Google.org, the charitable arm of Google. It called for gender equity-focused organisations to submit their boldest and most innovative ideas to create a more equitable economic reality for women and girls.

Google partnered with a women-led panel of experts – including Rigoberta Menchu, Naomi Osaka, Shakira, Susan Wojcicki and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka − and gender equity-focused organisations Vital Voices and Project Everyone, to evaluate proposals based on four key criteria: innovation, impact, feasibility and scalability.

According to Google, all 34 of the selected organisations outlined projects that will help women and girls − especially those in geographically, economically or socially marginalised populations − reach their full economic potential.

Recipient organisations were selected from various countries, including Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, India, Germany, France, Colombia, Canada, Japan and SA.

South African-based Dream Factory Foundation offers a 10-week digital and entrepreneurship skills training programme to women entrepreneurs, and helps them participate in a pitch competition. They will then be on-boarded onto Meeticks, a “smart” shop on WhatsApp that will allow businesses to easily connect to potential customers.

The Q Network has established “WomXnRaise” project – a three-month business development programme to help local Queer womxn, trans and non-binary entrepreneurs in SA to grow their businesses before accessing a specific fundraising digital platform catered to the LGBTQ+ community.

“Globally, women have been nearly twice as likely to lose their jobs during COVID-19 as men. It’s vital that we elevate and support work that empowers women and girls to reach their full economic potential, especially in marginalised communities,” says Jacquelline Fuller, president of Google.org.

“The pandemic recovery must be an inclusive one, and we know that when we invest in women and girls, we all benefit.”

In addition to funding of up to $1 million each, recipients will participate in a four-month accelerator programme led by Google’s Accelerator and Women Techmakers communities, in partnership with Vital Voices to move their projects forward. Select organisations will also receive a Google.org Fellowship and dedicated Google Ad Grants to promote their mission.

Google says it received 7 800 applications − the most received to date for a Google.org Impact Challenge.

An analysis of the application data − commissioned by Google.org and conducted by King’s College London’s Global Institute for Women’s Leadership −identified main focus areas for organisations around the world, proposing pathways to economic empowerment for women and girls. These include: education, entrepreneurship and businesses, financial independence and support, skills development and career advancement.

In addition to the Impact Challenge, Google will continue its support through $15 million in donated Google Search Ads for organisations focused on gender equity, including $10 million to gender equality organisation UN Women. Each funded organisation will also receive full-time digital marketing support from a Google Ads expert for three months.

For a full list of recipients, visit the Google website.

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