Google CEO: How to Grow Economic Opportunity Through Digital Skills

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, shared how the private sector can grow economic opportunities for entrepreneurs through technology and digital skills.


Air Date: June 9, 2022

Moderator: Gaby Frias, Anchor, CNN en Español

Featured Guests: Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google

Digital transformation has been the key to success for many businesses in recent years, particularly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The shift to a digital-first world was necessary for survival in many cases, and today, technology continues to open the door for businesses to reach even greater heights.

On the second day of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Department of State’s IV CEO Summit of the Americas, Gaby Frias of CNN en Español led an armchair discussion with Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, about how businesses can grow economic opportunities through technology and digital skills.

Google Is Committing Over $1 Billion to Technology Access and Upskilling

Pichai noted that Google has had a presence in Latin America since 2005, and its products are heavily used throughout the region. During the Summit, he announced that Google would be committing $1.2 billion to the region across four main areas: digital infrastructure, helping people grow their digital skills, supporting entrepreneurs, and sustainable and inclusive growth through the company’s philanthropic arm.

“Getting access to technology makes an incredible difference,” said Pichai. “Through the pandemic, we have seen almost everyone, particularly small businesses … all trying to grow digitally. So we’ve been really focused on digitally skilling people.”

“In Latin America, since 2017, we have trained around 7.5 million people, but we are committing an additional $1 million in scholarships for [the] Google Career Certificate program. We’ve done this program in the U.S., and … well over 50% of the people who go through these programs are from underrepresented communities.”

Support and Resources Are Key to Producing More Entrepreneurs in Latin America

When Google for Startups first launched in Latin America, said Pichai, there were no “unicorns” or startups that are valued at over $1 billion. Now, there are 35 — and 13 of them have gone through Google’s entrepreneurial programs.

“What’s been exciting to me is the rate of growth of unicorns [in Latin America],” Pichai said. “There are world-class entrepreneurs everywhere. They just need access to capital, to resources, to mentorship, and supporting infrastructure. I think the opportunity in the region is huge.”

“[These unicorns have] gone on to create over 25,000 jobs,” he continued. “This is the engine of an economy. You’re planting seeds for the future.”

The Private Sector Needs a Pro-Innovation, Pro-Regulatory Environment

According to Pichai, two things are key to a successful economy: a robust private sector with businesses that create value and jobs and the right pro-innovation, pro-regulatory environment to support that entrepreneurship.

“Many countries in Latin America are what we think of as digital sprinters,” Pichai continued. “If you can drive digital transformation … by 2030, [the world’s largest economies] can grow their GDP by $1.37 trillion. That’s a 23% incremental growth. That’s what’s at stake here by getting it right.”

The Public and Private Sectors Must Work Together to Drive Inclusive Growth

Technology ultimately drives growth, said Pichai, but companies providing that technology must ensure that growth is inclusive.

“It needs particular focus from both the private sector and the government,” Pichai explained.

For instance, Google is committing $300 million to support small business growth through advertising and will be particularly focused on indigenous communities, women-owned businesses, and other underrepresented groups.

“Doing things like that and having the government support it is going to be equally important,” said Pichai.

“Governments can’t drive growth alone,” he continued. “Private sectors account for the vast majority of growth in an economy. Invest in them; view them as partners in this journey. I think it’s important for governments to internalize this … especially in this region.