New Delhi: Google India on Wednesday said it is offering free websites to an estimated five lakh small and medium businesses in the country.

Google India, the Indian unit of the global internet giant, said on its official blog that it has launched an 'India Get Your Business Online' program to provide website, internet domain and web hosting services to small and medium businesses (SMBs) in the country.

"The initiative aims is to break down the barriers that stop small businesses from getting online - by offering a quick, easy and free tool to set up and host a website.

"Our goal is to help 5,00, 000 small medium businesses in India to get online in next three years through this programme," Google India MD and Vice President (Sales and Operations) Rajan Anandan said.

Interested small business owners would need to submit their PAN (Permanent Account Number) and other tax-related details for verification, after which they would be provided with an online tool for a free website and web hosting serice for one year.

After a year, website owners will have to pay a charge if they wish to renew their domain name.

Under the programme, all interested businesses would also get free email addresses and other advertising related benefits.

"While India is home to an estimated 8 million small medium businesses, only about 5 percent have a website. This program is designed to bridge the information gap that exists online due to the lack of presence of local Indian businesses on the Internet," Anandan added.

The company has partnered with the US-based Web host HostGator for the initiative. The web firm would also offer free support in creating, hosting and managing the website for a period of one year without any cost through its toll free call centres.

The programme is supported by Federation of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), popularly known as FISME.  The non-profit organisation, FISME, will work with Google India to help SMBs get online through direct customer outreach and events.