In late 2017, Visa established the Visa Foundation as the philanthropic arm of the financial institution to maximize its social impact. It aims to uplift small and micro enterprises with financial services and tools. As these kinds of businesses contribute between 50% and 60% of global employment, it is important that they thrive so that they are better able to support the communities around them. Visa first began by committing $20 million towards women-owned businesses whom it identified as greatly under-served or having no access to financial services to assist them. Since then, the Visa Foundation has undertaken other numerous social impact projects around the world. Here is some information about Visa’s social impact around the world.
Visa’s Black Scholars & Jobs Programme
Visa in partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund provides black & African American high school graduates with up to a $20,000 yearly scholarship to any U.S. accredited college institution. This applies to those getting a business or technology degree. Additionally, Visa employees mentor them, and upon graduating with their degree and completing hiring requirements, they receive a guaranteed job at Visa. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund was able to keep 1,153 students in school.
Village Capital is a venture capitalist firm that aims to support startups in their early stages and has worked on numerous projects with the Visa Foundation. In 2022, Visa and Village Capital launched the Greentech Europe Program initiative gender diverse small-to-medium businesses offering sustainable socioeconomic and environmental services. In terms of social impact, the program offers 30 startups with training in Village Capital’s accelerator program, and 50 other startups receive online investment training and a $300,000 grant that startups in the accelerator program receive. Visa has previously partnered with the firm to support its Women’s Entrepreneurship Acceleration Initiative to meet the financing needs of under-served Latin American entrepreneurs in the agriculture industry.
TechnoServe is a nonprofit organization that aims to find business solutions to poverty. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization partnered with the United States African Development Foundation, Partners in Food Solutions and Visa to support agribusiness in Africa. The Visa Foundation provided grants to eight food processing companies in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia while the other organizations provided technical support with the USAID initiative Feed the Future.
These efforts led to 1,500 farmers (45% of whom were women) staying afloat, the maintenance of 300 jobs, the creation of 100 additional jobs and the increase in food production from 2,370 to 4,180 metric tonnes. This minimized the social impact of the pandemic on poverty and food insecurity in their respective communities.
Previously, TechnoServe in partnership with Visa led an initiative in Khargone & Bharwani, districts in the Madhya Pradesh state of India to empower female leadership in agribusiness. Its social impact lay in improving the livelihood of women in their communities to uplift rural households. About 4,500 women farmers took part in the program in late 2017.
Hand in Hand
Hand In Hand International is a nonprofit organization based in the United Kingdom that fights poverty by creating employment. In 2020, Hand in Hand partnered with the Visa Foundation to empower women in the slums of Kenya to start their own businesses by providing financing and financial education. A three-year project, its social impact lies in uplifting 10,200 women out of poverty. Of those who take part the 1,600 of the most promising from this initiative and previous Hand in Hand projects will have the opportunity to scale up their businesses through an accelerator program. The Visa Foundation put forward $2.4 million to make this possible.
Visa’s Social Impact Through She’s Next
She’s Next is a Visa Foundation initiative that launched in the U.S. in 2019 to empower female entrepreneurship and recently expanded its efforts to the African continent. The initiative recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic hit women-owned small businesses significantly. Seven out of 10 of them suffered losses in revenue, young businesses struggled with payment management and the lack of technological infrastructure became a greater issue.
Findings from a survey of people in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya determined that 80% of women-owned businesses have benefited positively from She’s Next. Creating digital business solutions for female entrepreneurs is now the agenda. To do this, She’s Next partnered with She Leads Africa in 2021, reaching a community of 700,000 women with the educational tools, networking opportunities and financial support they need to go digital.
Many still greatly underestimate the impact of social corporate responsibility. Visa is not the first corporation to partner with nonprofit organizations to make a difference and neither should it be the last. Small-to-medium businesses take up 90% of existing businesses worldwide and by giving Visa has gained ground in one of the biggest financial markets in the world. Visa’s social impact is evidence that kindness is great for business.
– Kena Irungu
Photo: Wikipedia Commons