The global expansion of this program, announced today at the 28th World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, is part of Visa’s ongoing commitment to support female entrepreneurs. Yesterday, Visa and the International Trade Centre (ITC) announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding launching a new partnership to increase the financial inclusion of small businesses and women-owned small businesses globally by helping empower them to participate in international digital trade economy.
The number of women entrepreneurs is growing around the world, with 163 million starting businesses since 2014 alone. [i] Additionally, the highest percentage of these women are in Africa, where 26% of women start or manage a business. [ii] She’s Next in Africa will harness the power of Visa’s global brand and network to build awareness of these women entrepreneurs and invest in them to provide them with tools to build their businesses.
“Women entrepreneurs are the backbone of local economies, and the need for support is real. Closing the gender gap requires persistent hard work and support," said Aida Diarra, senior vice president and group country manager, Visa Sub Saharan Africa. "That is why Visa is using its voice to shine a light on the contributions and economic potential of female-owned micro-and small-businesses around the world.”
Women typically reinvest up to 90% of their income in the education, health and nutrition of their families and communities - compared to up to 40% for men – which makes investing in women’s businesses one way that Visa can help transform societies.
She’s Next Goes Global
Launched in January 2019 in the United States, She’s Next, Empowered by Visa is expanding globally for the first time today in Cape Town. With the expansion, She’s Next extends its signature pop-up events to offer networking opportunities for female entrepreneurs in Africa, including:
- Access to Experts: In Cape Town, broadcasting live on CNBC Africa, a roundtable panel of experts from Visa, local and national subject matter experts, and partners will explore how today’s sweeping technology changes are shaking up business models and creating unprecedented opportunities and challenges for small businesses, especially for the rising legion of female entrepreneurs.
- Participants include: Arancha Gonzalez, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre and Co-Chair of the 28th WEF on Africa; Aida Diarra, Senior Vice President and Group Country Manager for Visa Sub-Saharan Africa; Bogolo Joy Kenewendo, Minister of Investment, Trade & Industry, Botswana and Mich Atagana, Head of Communications and Public Affairs, Google South Africa.
- Pop-up Marketplace: Visa has invited local entrepreneurs to showcase the work they do and to network with WEF delegates from across Africa. This exhibition will run for a day at the Cullinan Hotel where the She’s Next launch will take place.
- New Research: A new study, which was commissioned by Visa and conducted by research firm 4Sight Africa, investigates the role of technologies like electronic payments in enabling the business success of female entrepreneurs in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. Some key findings were as follows:
- African women acknowledge the role of electronic payments in business success; 83% of respondents said that accepting or receiving electronic payments improves their businesses’ bottom line.
- 74% said customers spend more when they have access to electronic payments vs cash
- However most have not moved beyond cash and mobile money except in South Africa, where Credit Cards are more ubiquitous compared to Kenya and Nigeria.
- The women surveyed are positive about the future and 70% indicated that they feel they are financially independent.
- Almost 90% of women indicated that they feel more empowered as a female business owner than they did five years ago.
- Overall, market competition, lack of funding, business networking and training for growth are the common challenges facing female owned small businesses in Africa.
Visa’s Support of Women Everywhere
She’s Next, Empowered by Visa in Africa continues the success of Visa-supported programs focusing on small businesses, as well as female entrepreneurship. Other recent examples include:
- Encouraging Solutions to Big Challenges. In March 2019, Visa launched the first global Visa Everywhere Initiative: Women’s Global Edition, inviting women entrepreneurs to tackle FinTech and Social Impact challenges. Two overall winners received $100,000 each, mentorship and access to Visa’s network of partners and clients.
- Closing the Gender Gap for Women Entreprenuers. In addition to Visa’s efforts, the Visa Foundation made its first financial commitment of up to $20 million to Women’s World Banking with the aim of enabling 1.5 million women entrepreneurs to grow their incomes and household assets. As part of the program in Nigeria, Women’s World Banking is working to increase income-generating opportunities for women in rural areas.
- Creating a Platform to Support Athletes. Visa’s expanded commitment to women’s football leverages the brand’s sponsorship platform to inspire women athletes on and off the field amidst the global gender equality and women’s empowerment movements.
- Celebrating Every Woman’s Success. Visa’s Money is Changing marketing campaign in the U.S. features a diverse spectrum of women and highlights the practical steps they have taken to challenge existing money taboos, helping to create a more inclusive and equal future.
- Spotlighting Local Merchants. In the United Kingdom, Visa’s Great British High Street Awards, run by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, recognize and celebrate achievements on the UK’s high streets and support local communities.
Visa’s Support of Small Businesses Everywhere
Visa provides a full suite of payment services designed for virtually every need, whether businesses are accepting payments from 3.4 billion Visa cardholders worldwide or making secure, seamless payments to their own providers using Visa Business credit, debit or prepaid cards. Visit us online to learn more about Visa’s small business solutions, as well as tools available for She’s Next, Empowered by Visa.