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COVID-19: Visa Foundation doles out $210m for women empowerment, SMB growth

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The Visa Foundation has announced two programmes totalling $210 million to support small and micro businesses and empower women entrepreneurs.

The first programme of $10 million is for immediate emergency relief to support charitable organisations on the frontlines responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as public health and food relief, in each of the five geographic regions in which Visa operates.

The regions are North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, Asia Pacific and Central Europe, Middle East and Africa.

CEO and chairman of Visa, Al Kelly, said: “As COVID-19 continues to unfold, communities are feeling the effects and need our immediate support. As a global company that operates a very local business, we recognise this need.

“We’re also committed to the long-term recovery and will continue to explore ways we can accelerate economic activity in line with our mission to help individuals, businesses and economies thrive.”

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The second programme is a five-year, strategic $200 million commitment to support small and micro-businesses around the world, with a focus on fostering women’s economic advancement.

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This action expands the Visa Foundation’s long-standing support for small and micro businesses globally. The funds from the Visa Foundation will provide capital to non-government organizations, NGOs, and investment partners supporting small and micro businesses.

Small and micro businesses are the backbone of the global economy, accounting for more than 90 percent of worldwide businesses and contributing 50 to 60 percent of global employment.

There is a $300 billion annual credit deficit in funding for women-owned small and micro businesses, which is expected to grow given the recent economic turmoil unfolding due to COVID-19.

Kelly added that “now more than ever, we must accelerate our support for small businesses on the frontlines driving economic growth.

“As many small and micro business owners are women, there will be a ripple effect supporting women’s economic advancement, which we believe is one of the most important ways to achieve gender equality, reduce poverty and foster inclusive economic development.

“Through the $200 million small and micro-business programme, the Visa Foundation will provide $60 million in grants to NGOs dedicated to supporting small and micro business owners, many of whom are women, in every region where Visa operates.

“The Visa Foundation will also allocate $140 million with investment partners that generate positive social and financial returns for small and micro-businesses.”

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