The Visa Foundation has said it has set aside 210 million dollars to two programmes to support small and micro enterprises in order to tackle urgent needs in local communities given the spread of COVID-19. The Chairman of Visa, Mr. Al Kelly, said on Tuesday in Lagos that the support was in line with the foundation’s long-term focus on women’s economic advancement and inclusive economic development.
Kelly said in a statement that the first programme worth 10 million dollars was designated for immediate emergency relief to aid charitable organisations on the forefront responding to the Coronavirus pandemic. According to him, that list consisted public health and food relief in all the five geographic regions where Visa operates.
“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 are also committed to the long-term recovery, and will continue to explore ways to accelerate economic activity in line with our mission to help individuals, businesses and economies thrive,” he said.
Kelly explained that the second programme was a five-year strategic commitment worth 200 million dollars as support for small and micro businesses around the world, focusing on bolstering women’s economic advancement. This move, he said, would expand the Visa Foundation’s long-standing for small and micro businesses worldwide. “The funds from the Visa Foundation will provide capital to non-government organisations (NGOs) and investment partners supporting small and micro businesses. SMEs 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-dollar credit deficit in funding for women-owned small and micro businesses.”
“This is expected to grow given the recent economic turmoil unfolding due to COVID-19. 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. We believe this is one of the most important ways to achieve gender equality, reduce poverty and foster inclusive economic development,” Kelly said. Furthermore, Mr. Graham Macmillan, President of Visa Foundation disclosed that through the 200 million dollars SMEs programme, the Foundation will provide 60 million dollars in grants to NGOs dedicated to aiding SME owners, many of whom are women, in every region where Visa operates.