In 2012, internet usage in Bangladesh jumped from 5% to 20% of the population. This growth primarily comes from college students gaining access to computers at campuses with new internet connections. Many new users lack the skills they need to maximize their use of web-based resources. As internet penetration is primed to grow even more in the near future, Google is on the ground to help.
On November 12, 2014, Google Bus: Bangladesh began a twelve month journey, beginning in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The bus has been equipped with 3G internet and a team of Google internet specialists. They are traveling to 35 locations to lead seminars demonstrating the power of the internet to college students. By the end of the tour, the team hopes to have reached nearly half a million students.
Positive feedback is pouring in from Bengali students on the Google Bus’ community page. There, students are able to leave feedback on the program, connect with students in other cities they were never able to connect with before, and learn where the Google Bus is going next.
The internet has been very important for the development of South and Southeast Asia. Students can now access unprecedented amounts of information, connect with friends, and run businesses that would not be possible without the internet. Part of the seminar’s focus is teaching students how to use Google’s many apps geared toward business. According to one recent study, nearly one-in-five businesses utilize Google apps in some form. By increasing access to the web and training users on its many capabilities, Google is enabling a new generation of entrepreneurs in the region.
Google has recently shown a strong commitment to Asia. A new startup facilitator program, Google Campus, is on track to open in Seoul, Korea, in 2015. Google’s regional data center is located in Taiwan’s Changhua County, where they recently committed to spending $65 million to increase development.
Ethan Kannel is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a junior at Cornell University