Google, BT, PayPal and a number of other partners have launched a campaign to get 100,000 small UK businesses onto the web by the end of the year.
Get British Business Online (GBBO), launched on Thursday, allows businesses to set up a free website by entering basic information about the company. Features include Google Maps business listings, website data via Google Analytics and telephone support from BT. PayPal said it will shortly allow the free websites to accept e-commerce payments
The campaign is an initiative of core partners BT, Enterprise UK, e-Skills UK and Google. It is supported by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), as well as by PayPal and the Institute of Directors. The partners said they are also working with a number of regional business advice organisations around the UK.
Google UK managing director Matt Brittin said consumers are increasingly turning to the web to find information on local businesses, yet he estimated 1.5 million businesses do not have a web presence. Small businesses tend to view the web as complicated or costly, or do not see the advantage in having a website, he said.
"With over 40 million people in the UK now online, there has never been a better time for small businesses to use the internet," he said in a statement.
The campaign has received the support of the government, although BIS said it is not directly funding GBBO.
Business secretary Lord Mandelson said businesses should be encouraged to take advantage of the internet's opportunities in order to support economic recovery. "GBBO brings together valuable support to set up a website, and training to make the most of the internet," he said in a statement.