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Ladies, Google has a plan for you

If you are a woman and have been toying with the idea of giving your business an online presence, just Google. The company’s latest initiative, Women Entrepreneurs On The Web (WEOB), which is currently being piloted in India, is aimed at helping women-owned businesses expand their online presence.

The programme’s 5 Circles plan walks users through simple tasks that can be worked on at their own pace and scheduled, in a bid to circumvent the problem of lack of time that keeps many women entrepreneurs from exploring
opportunities, says Yolanda Mangolini, head, global Google’s global diversity and inclusion initiative head.

“The idea is to work with women entrepreneurs in India to help them leverage technology to collaborate, be more productive and network with other like-minded individuals,” says Mangolini. This programme is also open for females who have never used the web. It teaches them to build an online presence and takes them through the rest of the programme.

Why India?
India has an estimated eight million small medium businesses (SMB) who can immediately gain from the power of the Internet. “But only about five per cent of these have any web presence,” says Mongolini.

It’s free
While there is no cost involved to be a part of the programme, the only optional investment required would be that of purchasing a domain name. “If one chooses not to buy a domain name, then we’ll help them connect with their customers on social networks or an online video channel and they can still benefit from the rest of the programme,” says Mongolini.

Hang out
It takes four to six weeks to get started. An entrepreneur is required to fill in the form to join the WEOW Member group. A representative from Google then gets in touch with the users via phone or video chats called ‘hangouts’ and walks them through the programme.

WEOW also conducts weekly hangouts and self-learning materials for those who would like to get started right away. “The goal of the programme is to bring women entrepreneurs online and help them build their businesses with the available tools. There is no restriction of age or location,” says Mongolini.

Something for all
Men need not be disappointed. The self-learning modules that will be made available on the website and the Google+ page soon can be used by both men and women. “We also have a separate programme called Getting Indian Businesses Online — an initiative that was launched in November 2011 — which can be used by any SMB to build their online presence,” says Mongolini.  

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