Link of the Day 020309: Google Foundation's SME Initiative "On the Back Burner" []

At least one in four businesses never reopens after a natural disaster I was walking down the street in NYC when I came across a sign like this one from saying that “At least one in four businesses never reopen [sic] after a natural disaster”.

This got me thinking not only about business closures due to natural disasters in developing countries, but also about businesses that never get opened in the first place. With this on my mind, I was very disappointed to learn to is “putting [its] SME initiative on the backburner” in 2009.

We still strongly believe that growing small businesses will help the poor, but one of Google’s ten organizing principles is, “it’s best to do one thing really, really well.” As we evaluated our efforts this past year, it became clear that given’s unique strengths – including the ability to tap Google engineers to build and link better pathways to information – we could have a greater impact on the lives of the poor by focusing our efforts on Inform and Empower. As a result, we’re putting our SME initiative on the back burner. We’ll continue to support the grants and investments that we’ve already committed under the initiative. We have observed and learned from many others addressing the challenges of financing SMEs — many of whom are seeing significant strong results — and we hope they continue with great success. At this time, however, we will not fund new efforts in the SME space.

Sigh. Well, from the sound of it, at least they will continue to support Believe, Begin, Become.

Snarky note: I find it ironic to hear that one of the Goog’s governing principles is to do one thing and do it well. Hasn’t the search giant just gotten into the cell-phone, cloud computing, and browser business? I’m just saying.