Google campaign matching $2 million for Puerto Rico economic development
SAN JUAN – Google’s charity arm has launched a campaign focused on Puerto Rico’s economic recovery that matches up to $2 million in donations made June 8-20 at g.co/supportPR.
The funds raised by the internet giant will go to nonprofit organizations Hispanic Federation and Mercy Corps, and “will target the most important sector in Puerto Rico’s economic recovery—small and medium businesses (SMBs)” with “cash grants, technical assistance and training.”
Google said it will “support this effort with an approach to philanthropy that is unique to Google–grants, tools and volunteers.”
The creator of “Hamilton,” the musical, Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is of Puerto Rican descent, is the campaign’s spokesperson, “with other celebrities,” such as Jennifer López and “Despacito” singer Luis Fonsi, “joining to amplify the campaign via social media,” according to Friday’s release.
Google said in its announcement that in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, 20% of “SMBs haven’t reopened,” “power is intermittent” and “tourism is at an all-time low.” Although the latter is not exactly the case, as record tourism numbers are expected this year, “Google.org wanted to help connect Puerto Ricans with support” because “Small and medium businesses are interconnected to many other industries and helping them will cause a positive ripple effect throughout the island.”
Héctor Mujica, Google.org’s regional manager for Latin America, explained that it was “decided to return to Puerto Rico” after having provided internet to remote island areas via balloons one month after Maria struck. This time, however, they wanted “to offer support tailored to this stage of its recovery.”
Saying that “one out of three workers” on the island is employed by SMBs, an approach “that looked not only at what funding could do for small businesses, but how our own in-house resources could amplify the impact,” was adopted.
The effort, Google further explained, “began a few weeks ago when 35 of Google’s Latino employees, many with direct ties to Puerto Rico, traveled to the island to volunteer and offer guidance to business owners. They brought not only their expertise in various business fields, but also digital tools designed by Google to help businesses improve their economic outlook.”
Alfredo García, a development manager, was one of them: “As a Puerto Rican Googler, I felt a strong sense of responsibility to help the island get back on its feet. As Google, we can provide business tools, resources and knowledge, in addition to funding that can help support the economy. I’m proud to be part of a group that is helping fellow US citizens recover and emerge even stronger.”
With the funding raised, the Hispanic Federation, is tasked with supporting SMBs, revitalizing “agricultural industries” and helping “communities transition to sustainable (resilient) materials and structures.”
Meanwhile, Mercy Corps, “will support economic revitalization of tourism-oriented SMBs as well as supporting agricultural and fishery businesses.”
The release recalls that “Google.org and Googlers donated over $1.5M in disaster relief support to the regions impacted, and many employees volunteered not only their money but their time through various efforts. We aim to bring the attention back to a region still recovering from crisis with this campaign.”
Miranda is quoted in the release: “Everyone on the island is working hard every day to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria. This new campaign comes at the perfect time to harness the robust energy and enthusiasm still felt by people all over the world. I’m happy to do whatever I can to help raise awareness.”
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect that singer Luis Fonsi announced he has joined the Google.org campaign.