On December 7th 2021, Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, announced grants totalling $1.3 million for three non-profit organizations in the Middle East and North Africa to help equip entrepreneurs and job seekers with digital skills over the next two years.
The grantees, Helm,: IDare for Sustainable Development and SPARK will help reach people from diverse backgrounds in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and the UAE.
Access to employment can be challenging for many people, including persons with disabilities. To help improve access to employment and job inclusivity, Google.org will grant $400,000 to Helm, an NGO that promotes the inclusion and employment of persons with disabilities (PWD).
Helm will run workshops in English and Arabic with sign language translation and closed captioning, that focus on digital literacy and English for business communication to help enhance attendees' digital and employability skills. The workshops will be held in Egypt, Jordan and the UAE over the next 18 months, and will reach over 1,000 PWD.
Helm will also reach out to a number of public and private entities to help create and increase employment opportunities for persons with disabilities and to connect employers with skilled job-seekers. By bringing in the public and private sector in their project development, Helm can ensure that training opportunities result in tangible income generation opportunities for participants.
Similarly, many young refugees and internally displaced persons around the world have lost their jobs and sources of income due to restrictions imposed by the pandemic. To help tackle this, Google.org will provide a USD 600,000 grant to SPARK, an NGO that provides young people with tools to help them succeed in regions affected by conflict.
SPARK will host digital skills training sessions for 250 young refugees and host community members in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine. It will also offer coaching and mentoring sessions for over 100 entrepreneurs, as well as launch a regional startup competition, to help empower them to grow their businesses. Similarly, SPARK will launch a digital networking platform to connect 1,500 entrepreneurs, university alumni, and job seekers to exchange learning experiences and opportunities.
Creating equal opportunities for women in Jordan, Google.org will be providing a $300,000 grant to ‘IDare for Sustainable Development’, which is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to fostering positive youth development for sustainable change. IDare’s mission is to create changemakers among Jordanian youth, particularly women, by providing them with skills and hoping to create a more sustainable future. The grant will be used to train 200 young women in Jordan, including those without previous work experience, on a range of competencies such as product marketing and design thinking.‘IDare for Sustainable Development’ will also provide training on the safe use of machinery in the craft industry such as digital fabrication and carpentry. The program will last for three years and falls under the ‘Creative Hub’, which is part of IDare. It is important to note that the grant is part of Google.org Impact Challenge for Women and Girls that aims to fund organizations creating pathways to prosperity for women and girls.
The latest grants are part of Google’s commitment to enhancing digital skills in MENA and supporting business growth. Last year, Google pledged to help one million people and businesses in MENA learn digital skills and grow their businesses by the end of 2021. Over 950,000 participants have been involved since the launch across the region. The new Google.org grants will help expand these digital training opportunities to reach more participants across the region.