Google Business Group (GBG) started its Lahore chapter today gathering a decent number of business people along with dozens of blogger and internet marketers at Arfa Technology Park, Lahore. The event was meant to introduce background and the future course of GBG for the promotion of online business in Pakistan.
There are more than 20 million internet users in Pakistan and most of them spend their considerable time daily on the social networking sites such Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin etc. In Pakistan, querying on Google has increased tremendously during the last couple of years and with the mobile phones replacing computers for the internet needs, 20% of the search queries in Pakistan are being originated from the mobile platforms. As 3G arrives (hopefully this year), the internet community in Pakistan will witness a sharp surge in mobile phone internet usage.
The event started with the introduction by founder of GBG-Lahore, Mr. Aamer Sarfraz who spoke about the importance of using internet tool for the promotion of businesses today. He said,” We would like small and medium businesses to interact through GBG and learn about how various application and tools can support them for a manifold growth in their businesses through internet”.
Analysts believe that since Google is world’s leading search engine and there is vast potential of online business in a rising internet market such as Pakistan, it is therefore, high time for the leader (Google) to step in and convince small and medium business owners about the benefits and Return On Investment (ROI) while using Google’s product. And this is what it has started through GBG.
While giving presentation, Badar Khushnood, Country Consultant for Google in Pakistan said, “Today 16.9 million people read print version of newspapers in a population of more than 180 million people. There is an increased trend of looking for information online. Last year, Pakistan imported some 300,000 Android based handsets which are of course internet enabled. These numbers are way too handsome as compared to famous Blackberry handsets which have mere 60,000 active users in Pakistan today”.
Badar further said, “In spite of the fact that internet usage is growing in Pakistan, then why we witness a negligible online sales and purchase is because of money laundering and flawed financial policies in Pakistan. This is the reason why PayPal stays away from this country”.
“Even for AdWords, Pakistanis have very limited options and this has shrunk the online advertising opportunities. At least for AdWords, soon Google is going to introduce an alternative to the current payment mode that will ease down the process in Pakistan”, added Badar.
One of the Google product that was highly talked about was AdWords. No one in the hall had tried AdWords yet except Abdul Aziz, owner of a software company Lumensoft who told his success story that Google AdWords provided him 200% ROI. He started with an advertising budget of Rs. 10,000 back in 2007 and today he has spent more than $14000 on AdWords program. As he was quite satisfied, he told, that Lumensoft was able to receive clientele from the remotest cities of Pakistan just because of AdWords reached to his potential buyer.
Google Business Group is establishing separate chapters for all the big cities. It has conducted workshops in Karachi and Lahore and soon it would be planning for Islamabad and other cities.
I forgot to mention another company Skylite Communication which was represented by Abdul Aziz at the event is also practicing Google AdWords. Abdul Aziz confirmed that he spend US $ 1,500 every month and get a business of worth US $ 20,000. Skylite Communication sells cables to US market.