Imagine being able to concentrate on running your business without having to worry about capital and operating costs. This is an option that is only available to few and a boost in that direction could mean the difference between success and failure. Access to finance is one of the biggest challenges faced by entrepreneurs and women are especially weighed down by this due to systematic barriers and investor biases informed by traditional norms.
But this ship is turning. It is a slow but sure process, and results are becoming increasingly visible as more and more women grow their businesses and contribute to the economy of the country. This is largely due to intervention from governments, financial institutions, and local and global organizations. This is not to say that we are there yet. A lot more intervention and support are required for women to get to their full entrepreneurial potential and it is great to see that help is still available from different quarters.
Towards this for instance, Visa has announced a grant to be utilized in funding working capital for women fund managers across South, East and West Africa. This fund which is channeled through African Women impact Fund (AWIF) will target 55 women who responded to AWIF’s call to action and have been part of their program since 2020.
This grant is part of Visa’s She’s Next program – a global empowerment project aimed at women owned businesses by availing funds and practical business skills. This is a welcome intervention for the women who are doing more and more in entrepreneurship, making a buck for themselves, and contributing to the economy. It will go a long way in enabling women to build, sustain and advance their businesses.
According to Aida Diarra, Visa’s Senior Vice President and Head of sub-Saharan Africa, the ambition of this grant is to enable access in a space where women owned firms are under-represented. Women will not only be recipients of funds but will also become decision makers where institutional funding and business is concerned.
Visa’s funding will boost women in all areas that affect their businesses and will be modelled around key pillars to cover portfolio management, investment research and operational cost. This is a well-rounded support system that will go a long way in assisting business owners to improve their skillsets and run profitable businesses that will in turn invest in others. This is a powerful cycle that will see women run businesses reach out and help others climb the ladder.
Kenya aims to become a middle-income nation by 2030 and investing in women will play a crucial role in achieving this. With 49% of micro and small businesses being owned by women and only 9% getting to medium sized enterprises, Visa’s support will go a long way in bridging this gap.