After launching 'Digital Unlocked', a training programme to help small and medium businesses (SMBs) go digital, Google India on March 8 announced the launch of 'SMB Heroes', a nation-wide programme designed to recognise SMBs that have embraced digital platform to grow their business.


A nation-wide programme 'SMB Heroes' will comprise three categories -- Business Innovation through Digital, Impacting Change through Digital and Woman Business Leader, Kevin O'Kane, Managing Director, Google Marketing Solutions- Asia Pacific, told reporters here.


Google launched 'Digital Unlocked' programme in Hyderabad on March 8. Since its launch in January this year, Google has hosted 'Digital Unlocked' workshops in five cities across the country and trained over 4,000 businesses across the offline and online training. Starting from March 8 businesses from across the country can submit their nominations on the SMB Heroes website


The last date for entries is April 24. "One winner from each category will be shortlisted for five major zones, culminating in a national final in Delhi later this year," Kevin said.


Citing a joint research study by Google-KPMG, Google (India and South-East Asia) Vice President Rajan Anandan, said, 68 percent of the 51 million Indian SMBs are offline.


"A large number 35 per cent of small businesses are not aware of the benefits, and 31 per cent cited lack of technical skills for the reasons that they are not on the internet. At Google we want to address these barriers," Rajan said.


"We will be investing heavily in helping SMBs to benefit from digital technology," he said.


SMBs contribute 37 percent to India’s GDP and employ 120 million people. At present, there is only 32 percent of small businesses in India that has any sort of web presence, said Rajan.


Digital Unlocked, will empower SMBs with essential digital skills to help them get online and start using the internet to grow their business.


The programme is built across the different formats of online, offline and mobile. "The offline training is being conducted in partnership with FICCI, and over the next three years, 5,000 workshops will be held across 40 Indian cities," Rajan said.


Quoting the report, he said rising Internet penetration, and greater uptake for digital by SMBs could help increase their contribution to India's GDP by ten percentage points, taking it up to 46-48 per cent by 2020.


"SMBs that leverage digital platform grows revenues fast compared to offline SMBs," he added.