MEXICO CITY – Google will invest $1 million to support educational initiatives aimed at narrowing the “digital divide” in Latin America, company executive Adriana Noreña told Efe.
Funds will go to three non-governmental organizations promoting digital education in Argentina, Colombia and Mexico, Noreña said by telephone from the Mexican resort town of Merida, where she traveled to take in the 4th Annual Latin American Impact Investment Forum.
The initiatives will focus on young people and women, segments that Google – which has a Latin American regional headquarters in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte – has identified as facing more obstacles in accessing technology.
In Argentina, the assistance will be provided to Comunidad IT, an organization devoted to providing tech skills to young people who do not have access to formal education.
Colombia’s Colnodo will get a boost in its work of preparing people ages 16-25 for professional careers.
Mexico Crea will be supported by Google in its mission to equip women leading micro-enterprises with “basic (digital) literacy.”
The main cause of the digital divide in Latin America is lack of “digital knowledge,” not gaps in infrastructure or connectivity, Noreña said.
Digital knowledge ranges from “how a person can navigate the Internet or access e-mail to more complex tasks such as programming,” said Noreña, a Colombian who has headed Google’s Latin America division since 2011.
The digitally connected now outnumber the unconnected in Latin America, according to Noreña.
“The proportion of smartphone users is 15 percent, one of the highest in the world, and this provides great opportunities for anyone starting up a business through cellphone apps,” she said.