BusinessDay

Visa to expand Africa Women’s businesses through grant

Visa has announced a grant towards the African Women Impact Fund (AWIF), a collaboration between Standard Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) with 55 women who responded to AWIF’s call to action.

According to the company, this grant will be utilised to fund the working capital needs of women fund managers across South, East, and West Africa

Visa’s grant to the AWIF is an extension of the She’s Next program, a global advocacy program for women-owned businesses that have been expanded to Sub-Saharan Africa to further champion and strengthen African women business owners as they build, sustain, and advance their businesses.

However, Women fund managers in Africa continue to face numerous challenges in building sustainable businesses, research shows slow-moving progress in the visibility and inclusion of women fund managers due to systematic barriers and investor bias.

With African women accounting for just 7.6 percent of private equity and women-led businesses receiving only 7 percent of private equity and Venture Capital in emerging markets, this highlights the opportunities to reduce the current gender gaps.

‘’The aim of She’s Next is to help women-owned businesses thrive and our ambition with this grant is to enable access to a space where women-owned firms are under-represented,” said Aida Diarra, Senior Vice President and Head of Sub-Saharan Africa at Visa.

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Through this program, our company aims to ensure that women are not only recipients but become decision-makers where institutional funding for businesses is concerned, Diarra stated.

Similarly, Visa’s funding will be directed towards activities that will assist the business owners with improving their technical skill sets, becoming investible to more prominent institutional investors, and running profitable businesses that will in turn invest in others including small and medium enterprises.

According to Lindeka Dzedze, Global Market Head, Strategic Partnerships at Standard Bank Group. visa partnering with Standard Bank in the AWIF sees gender equity not only as a fundamental human right but also as a business imperative, stating that the empowerment of women to raise Africa’s economic output and creating sustainable jobs, especially within the small enterprises that drive growth on the continent

In addition, this funding will ensure that these business owners are able to focus on growing their enterprises without the burden of managing short-term debt and other operational costs related to building a successful business, Diarra added.

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