COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - As the coronavirus pandemic continues to press on, so do the financial hardships for many small businesses. Monday, Google launched a free online training program in South Carolina to help give Black and Latino small business owners the tools they need to succeed.
Google believes these trainings are essential to helping stimulate economic opportunity for small minority-owned businesses. At the Americas Servicios in West Columbia, the pandemic has taken a toll on income. CEO Ulises Chavez says he and his staff went three months without any income. The office still remains empty, and most appointments have moved online.
The longtime business owner considers himself lucky to still have a job and to know how to move his business online. “We are adapting ourselves to this new era,” said Chavez. “That’s what’s keeping us afloat. Technology has been our best friend; We’re doing a lot of things online, so that’s the new income for us.”
CEO of Smart Cookie Coaching and Grow with Google digital coach, Shennice Cleckley, says black and Latino owned small businesses have been behind the curve in the digital space. She’s helping launch Grow with Google in South Carolina. “Back in March, you know everyone was kind of in a panic,” she explained. “Once they got a strategy in place and learned some of the tools that they needed in order to get out there on social media, get out there to collaborate with others, they’ve been actually able to increase their profits more than what they thought they would need to do.”
Cleckley has already helped small businesses, like Styles Confidential Hair Studio, create websites to expand their customer base.
“Online presence is everything in today’s society,” said owner Belinda Harmon. “I wasn’t doing very much of online booking sites before the pandemic, but I believe the more presence people see of certain salons, they’ll be more intrigued to want to come.” Harmon is eager to start the free training to learn how to better market her business and manage and update her website on her own.
Grow with Google has also gotten the support of South Carolina officials, like Congressman James Clyburn and Senator Tim Scott, who say programs like this are needed to help small business owners of color thrive.
“These small businesses are bringing jobs, they’re bringing goods or services and you can see the touchpoints right there right in your community,” said Cleckley. “You don’t have to go far, and that just makes me well up with pride.”
More than 60 small business owners signed up for the virtual launch. Grow with Google plans to hold three to five virtual sessions a month. To register for the workshop click here.