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Visa Launches Foundation, Grants $20M to Support Women Entrepreneurs

Image Credit: Women's World Banking

Building on its larger social impact strategy, which seeks to support the growth of micro and small enterprises around the world, Visa has launched the newly-incorporated Visa Foundation. As its first order of business, the Foundation has made a financial commitment of up to $20 million to Women’s World Banking.

Small and medium enterprises account for more than 90 percent of enterprises worldwide and contribute 50 to 60 percent of global employment. However, these organizations often struggle to access the financial tools, capital and training programs required to enable them to fully thrive. The Visa Foundation endeavors to rectify this balance by providing SMEs with the resources they need to succeed.

“As a brand and a business, Visa has always stood for making a positive and transformational impact on the world,” said Al Kelly, CEO for Visa and Visa Foundation board member. “The Visa Foundation has been established to build on a long history of corporate giving and will accelerate the delivery of our social impact goals. Our intention is to establish a legacy of meaningful contributions by helping millions of microenterprises thrive.”

The Foundation’s first multi-year initiative will be a five-year, up to $20 million grant to Women’s World Banking, which supports millions of women-led small and micro enterprises.

Despite their contribution to both the formal and informal economy worldwide, women-owned micro and small businesses are unserved or underserved financially. According to the World Bank, there is a staggering $300 billion annual credit deficit for formal sector women-owned small and medium sized businesses. Financial products such as savings, credit and insurance can help low-income women to build their assets, grow their businesses and ensure economic resilience in challenging times.

With its grant, Visa Foundation seeks to support Women’s World Banking in developing sustainable solutions for women entrepreneurs to build their enterprises and establish financial safety nets while also advancing leadership skills and financial capabilities.

“Women and women-owned businesses continue to be disproportionately excluded from accessing formal financial services, impacting hundreds of millions of individuals with a significant effect on families and communities,” said Stephen Kehoe, SVP for Global Financial Inclusion at Visa. “By supporting measures to include women, there is a strong multiplier effect in terms of increased financial health for all. For this reason, the Visa Foundation chose to focus its first grant on women-owned enterprises and has selected Women’s World Banking as our first grant recipient.”

Over the next five years, the program will develop, test and scale innovative and sustainable products that drive positive financial behaviors, and expand Women’s World Banking’s global network of partner financial service providers to serve 50 million more financially underserved individuals. Additionally, it will measure the impact of improved access to financial services on women enterprise owners and drive knowledge sharing, innovation and best practices within the global community on how to best support small and micro enterprises.

“Women’s World Banking is thrilled to be Visa Foundation’s inaugural grantee. We share a vision to serve low-income women entrepreneurs whose contribution to economic growth is far below its potential,” said Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking. “One billion women worldwide are unbanked, a significant number of them business owners. Through this partnership, we will deliver solutions that drive women’s access and usage of innovative financial services, so that they can create economic opportunities for themselves and their families.

The Visa Foundation grant is designed to support Women’s World Banking’s efforts around the world, with an initial focus in India, Mexico, Egypt and Nigeria, as key markets to drive growth among low-income, women-owned small enterprises.


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