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Google’s Hustle Academy relaunches with AI Focus to empower African SMBs

Google today announced the opening of applications for the 2024 cohort of its Hustle Academy, a program dedicated to accelerating the growth of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in Sub-Saharan Africa. This year, the program introduces a significant upgrade: business-focused AI training integrated directly into the curriculum.

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 (IFC), 40% of formal SMBs in developing countries have an unmet funding need of $5.2 trillion annually.

The Hustle Academy aims to address this gap by providing comprehensive business education, mentorship, and networking opportunities. Since its launch in 2022, over 10,000 businesses have benefited from the program. Participants who received grants nearly doubled their success rate in accessing new funding sources beyond friends and family, increasing from 11% to 20%. The program has also spurred job creation, with an average of 4 new jobs for every 10 businesses that graduated.

Kristy Grant, Head of B2B Marketing, SSA commented, “Artificial intelligence (AI) holds immense potential for African small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), enabling them to drive innovation, increase efficiency, and unlock new levels of economic growth. The Hustle Academy has supported over 10,000 businesses who 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.”

The new AI modules focus on data-driven decisions, optimising operations, and building AI-powered marketing strategies. Participants will explore practical applications through modules like “Boost Your Productivity with AI” and “Marketing Strategy and AI,” 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, and the program will run through the end of the year. For more information and to apply, visit g.co/hustleacademy.

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