Google on Thursday introduced a $12M financial support and digital transformation to support Turkish firms against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program named “Tradesmen who make a difference with digital transformation” was introduced by Google Turkey in cooperation with Turkey’s Trade Ministry, Presidential Digital Transformation Office, and the Confederation of Turkish Tradesmen and Craftsmen (TESK).

Attending the meeting via video link, Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said in the first step of the project, support and training will be provided especially for the digital transformation of restaurants and cafes.

“I believe this project will generate valuable outputs. The fact that Turkish Presidency, the ministry, and TESK are a part of the project has revealed a very positive picture in terms of public-private sector cooperation.”

Meir Brand, the vice president of Google emerging markets, also underlined the world made a five-year progress within five months in terms of digitalization.

Saying that the current situation in Turkey is the same with the world, Meir added: “The share of online retailing has increased from 5% to 10% of all retail, and we anticipate that 1.5 million businesses will gain new digital skills and move their businesses to digital.”

Bendevi Palandoken, the TESK head, said the project will contribute to the ability of the tradesmen to use technology by developing content for the needs of the restaurant and cafe sector especially.

“I wish the project, which will be carried out in the 20 provinces most affected by the pandemic, will be beneficial for the digitalization of our tradesmen,” he said.

Google’s Turkey Director Mehmet Keteloglu highlighted that the first leg of the program would be the donation of $500,000 to be made by to TESK.

Stating that Google is aiming to reach 20,000 restaurant and cafe owners and employees, Keteloglu said this figure corresponds to 10% of restaurant and cafe businesses in Turkey.

“The second important component of the program is the $3 million loan support package offered to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). This credit facility created to support SMEs are going to be implemented in 2021 in partnership with a financial institution in Turkey,” he added.

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