In 2017, JinJa Birkenbeuel was hired by Google to serve as a digital coach, but she had no idea what to anticipate.
Birkenbeuel, a businesswoman who identifies as Black, was well aware of the difficulties that Black and brown small business entrepreneurs encounter, such as their limited access to technological, educational, and financial resources. But now that Birkenbeuel was being offered to work with a significant, powerful tech company to help the same entrepreneurs expand their businesses using Google resources, she knew she couldn’t pass up the chance.
Risking paid off. Grow with Google has grown to include 16 states and the Washington, D.C. metro area in the five years since it first began. It is the recipient of the 2022 Fast Company Innovation by Design Award for Large Companies.
Over 1,800 seminars in both English and Spanish were delivered by the 19 coaches of the initiative, who have helped over 100,000 clients and expanded Google’s ecosystem. According to Birkenbeuel, “We were definitely pioneers with what we were doing.”
As the regional coach for Illinois, Birkenbeuel collaborates with Google employees to interact with Black and Latino business owners in the region. She offers a range of seminars, the majority of which go over the fundamentals of growing a business using Google, such as setting up a Gmail account or using YouTube for advertising.
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According to Birkenbeuel, if you have a Gmail account, you can use a variety of other free Google tools, such as Google Ads to interact with customers and Google Analytics to look at consumer trends.
Making organisations more consumer-friendly can start with understanding basic Google applications. The seminars in the programme emphasise how easy it is to increase one’s customer base using Google’s technologies; the most well-liked class, for instance, is a guide on how to register a business on Google Search and Maps.
Grow with Google co-founder Aisha Taylor is very pleased with how the sessions have promoted a learning environment. She notes that some customers come back often to develop their skills, especially as the product continues to expand, and that “oftentimes we have learners who have been coming to digital coach seminars for months or even years.”
Community is incredibly important, she says, especially for the Black and Latinx communities. Therefore, rather than just working alone at Google, we investigated how we could truly develop a programme in conjunction with the community.