Over 2,500 businesses in the capital's iconic Chandni Chowk market are now online with their own websites as part of an initiative by Google, owner of the world's most popular search engine.
Google, as part of its 'India Get Your Business Online' initiative launched in November 2011, offers free websites and domains to small and medium businesses (SMBs) in the country.
"With over 137 million Internet users in the country, an increasing number of users are now looking for local information online," Google India VP and Managing Director (Sales and Operations) Rajan Anandan said at an event late last evening New Delhi.
An initiative like this helps SMBs get started on the Internet, he added.
"There are 47 million SMBs in the country, but only 400,000 have a web presence. Of this, only 100,000 have a decent quality web presence," Anandan said.
As part of the project, Google India and HostGator went to each shop in Chandni Chowk and built over 2,500 free websites for businesses operating from the market.
In addition to creating these websites, Google India has also launched a common website 'www.chandnichowknowonline.in' to provide a directory of businesses from Chandni Chowk.
Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal, who is also a Member of Parliament from the Chandni Chowk constituency, said the move will help these shop owners increase their business as information about them would be more widely available.
"Internet is becoming an engine of economic growth and is expected to contribute over USD 100 billion by 2015 to India's GDP. Embracing Internet will increase competitiveness of these businesses in the global economy," Sibal said.
Google aims to build over 500,000 free websites for SMBs in the country by 2014. "We have created over 150,000 websites across 7,850 cities in India within a year. Next year, we expect to cover 300,000 businesses and by 2014-end, we will meet the target of 500,000," Anandan said.
He added the company is looking at some other major business hubs to take more small businesses online but did not disclose any details.
Chandni Chowk is a hub of small and medium businesses in north India with over 5,000 businesses including suppliers, exporters and wholesalers, but very few own a website.
"This initiative from Google has provided all businesses with a professional website, which will now make it easier for customers to find us online and help us to grow our businesses," Kinari Bazaar Gota Zari Association of Chandni Chowk spokesperson Pradeep Jain said.
Under the 'India Get Your Business Online' initiative, small businesses can set up a website for free and after a year, they need to pay just the website hosting charges.
Google runs similar initiatives in other parts of the world as well.