Visa and the Visa Foundation aim to close the financing gap for African women entrepreneurs

by MMC
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Visa Foundation says it wants to help underfunded African startups led by women get off the ground.

Visa Foundation announcement On Thursday (March 2), it announced it would provide $1 million from its $200 million Equitable Access Initiative to help women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in sub-Saharan Africa grow.

The statement cites World Bank figures which show that although Africa can claim the highest growth rate of women-led businesses, they receive only 1% of venture capital funding.

“Women business owners continue to face challenges unique to them, ranging from patriarchy to cultural norms and unconscious biases that impact women’s ability to access markets, finance, technology and networks,” said the Visa Foundation. “The global pandemic has further exacerbated these challenges, as women-led SMEs have been hit hardest. »

PYMNTES examined the challenges faced by African women entrepreneurs last year in conversation with Janade Du Plessisgeneral partner of the pan-African venture capital (VC) fund Launch Africa Ventures.

The numbers he shared were slightly bleaker than Visa’s: in 2021, female founders received just 0.7% of funds raised by startups in Africa, the equivalent of $18 million in nearly $2.7 billion.

“Today, in 2022, there is capitalistic apartheid against women entrepreneurs in Africa,” DuPlessis told PYMNTS. “Everyone wants to talk about how women should be on boards, be involved in decision-making and (how) we should fund it. But where is the money? No one really puts capital where their words are.

To help combat this problem, the Visa Foundation will award $1 million in grants to AfriLabsa community of technology hubs, innovators and entrepreneurs, and Graça Machel Trust, a pan-African non-profit organization founded and led by women.

AfriLabs will in turn use this money to fund its RevUp Women initiative, which supports early-stage startups led by women, the statement said.

Graça Machel Trust, meanwhile, will use its share of the funding to expand its “Women Wealth Creators” business development program in Uganda, Kenya and South Africa to reach 100 women-led SMEs.

Visa announced last year that it would invest $1 billion in Africa to drive the continent’s digital transformation, with plans to expand operations, introduce new technologies and deepen partnerships with merchants, governments, institutions financial institutions (FIs), FinTechs and mobile network operators over the next half-year. a few years.

“The inclusion of mobile network operators reflects the different role Visa plays in the payments ecosystem in Africa compared to the United States,” PYMNTS wrote at the time.

In addition to serving as a partner to banks that issue credit and debit cards, VisaAfrica’s African operations will need to work with the continent’s mobile money and alternative payments FinTechs, “which use solutions such as mobile wallets and virtual cards to bring digital payments to unbanked populations.”

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