The world's most-used search engine, Google, plans to help half a million small and medium businesses (SMBs) in India go online by the end of next year.
With India set to become the second largest Internet market in the world, expected to overtake the US by 2015, Google sees the country as a key market and is focusing on SMBs, which contribute significantly to its global revenues.
Allan Thygesen, vice president and global head of SMBs for Google, told media in Hyderabad that the firm has already launched an initiative to give SMBs a cost-effective way to reach out to customers.
"It's a key growth initiative in India, which is the fastest growing market for us among top 20 markets," he said.
Google has already made significant investment in India in terms of increasing the headcount and developing new products to drive the growth in SMBs sector. It is also offering services in English and nine regional languages in India.
Google says it has 1,200 partners across India to help SMBs manage their businesses online. In the last two years, it claims to have enabled 300,000 SMBs to go online. Its premier partners cover 65 cities and this number is expected to go up to 100 this year.
With over 200 million Internet users, India is on its way to become the second largest Internet market in the world after China.
K. Suryanarayana, head of SMBs, Google India, said the surge in affordable smartphones was bringing more users online. The e-commerce industry, which was roughly at $10 billion in 2013 is projected to touch $80-100 billion by 2020.
Out of the 50 million SMBs in India, only five percent have online presence.
"Indian SMBs have been slower to adopt online strategies because of lack of time and understanding of the Internet medium and self-service model," he said.
Google helps SMBs to get started online by creating a website, a social page, a mobile ready site and also bring them on Google Search, Google Maps and on other media like YouTube. The SMBs may also track their efforts through Google Analytics.
Google has designed products like AdWords Express, that makes it easy for SMBs to run advertising campaigns online.