A new range of initiatives from Visa aims to further support small business recovery from COVID, and equip them to keep up with increasing demand for e-commerce and digital payments; with $100k in grants earmarked for US-based, Black women-owned small businesses.
This week, Visa announced a global commitment to elevate 50 million small and micro businesses (SMBs) worldwide in an effort to get local communities back to business in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic — with a special initiative aimed at helping Black women entrepreneurs secure funding needed to run and grow their businesses, and be able to compete in an increasingly digital and e-commerce-dominated market in the wake of the virus.
Small businesses will play a vital role in helping communities around the world recover — they account for more than half of global employment and yet, are among the most affected by the pandemic. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, 43 percent of SMBs say they only have money to last six months and less than half of SMBs have any online business. In addition to the economic impact, the pandemic has obviously accelerated the move to shopping online and demand for touchless payment options.
In addition to its recent $210 million commitment to help SMBs survive and thrive during and after the pandemic, Visa is also focusing on these strategic areas to promote digital commerce and economic growth:
Supporting Black women-owned businesses
In the US, Visa is expanding its partnership with IFundWomen (IFW) — which provides grants and digital training to US-based, women-owned SMBs — to award $100k in grants for US-based, Black women-owned small businesses.
Women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the US, yet they receive less than 5 percent of small business lending (only $1 in $23). The number of startups founded by Black women has more than doubled since 2016, yet they represent just 0.06 percent of the $424.7 billion in total tech venture funding raised since 2009.
Launching on June 30, Visa’s expanded IFundWomen program will award 10 $10k grants to help Black women entrepreneurs across the US secure funding needed to run and grow their businesses. In addition to the funding, grant recipients will receive support through mentoring, educational resources, connection with a network of female business owners and an annual IFW membership.
Empowering digital-first businesses
Visa has built localized online resource centers in over 20 countries* *— providing tools and information on how to start, run and grow digital-first small businesses. Across European markets, Visa is investing to increase the number of digital payment acceptance devices within shops by more than 50 percent.
Starting in July, Visa street teams will visit merchants in the 50 largest US cities, to provide “back to business” kits with new tools and educational resources. After the US, the program will expand to 15 countries including Singapore, Italy and South Africa.
Incentivizing local and neighborhood support for small business
In Australia, New Zealand and the US, Visa has created a suite of tools and fostered various partnerships to encourage support of neighborhood businesses by rewarding consumers for spending their dollars locally. In Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Visa has launched new SMB initiatives that champion and enable entrepreneurs while encouraging consumers to support small businesses.
Visa has also launched the Visa Economic Empowerment Institute, to help address underlying problems and provide insights for SMB growth, and close racial/gender gaps through policy. Key projects in the next six months will address post-crisis recovery and resilience, urban mobility, closing equality opportunity gaps, and insights into the gig economy.
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