For the last 2 weeks, we have been highlighting the Visa She’s Next Series – a video series on YouTube that is having an in depth look at the women entrepreneurship scenario especially in Africa. The series is created in partnership with Visa, Standard Bank and the African Woman Impact Fund with an aim to explore challenges facing women in business, and the interventions that the three operating partners have in store.
One of the interventions that is currently on the spotlight is Visa’s She’s Next Program, through which the financial institution is giving a grant to women fund managers across South, East and West Africa. The grant which is being channeled through Africa Women Impact Fund will ensure that business owners are able to focus on growing their businesses without the burden of managing short term debt and other daily operational costs.
In this article we are going to summarize the video series where there is a wealth of information from the panelists, and explanations on what role each of the partners play towards the growth of women. The panel which is women for women consists of Aida Diarra, Visa’s Senior Vice President and Group Country Manager for Sub Saharan Africa and Lindeka Dzedze – Global Market Head of Strategic Partnerships at Standard Bank. Aida oversees operations across SSA and cultivates relationships with Visa’s clients and Government Authoritie and Lindeka is also the chair person of the African Woman Impact Fund executive team. The discussion is moderated by Gugulethu Mfuphi – a broadcaster and financial journalist.
In the first episode of the series, we get of course an introduction of the discussion and of the partners too. The episode expounds on the solutions that Visa designs to cut across corporates and small businesses as well. Visa’s mandate can be summarized into enabling commerce and this episode goes deeper to explain just how. We also get to hear from a woman entrepreneur, Delphine Govender, about her journey in entrepreneurship so far. Delphine has a wealth of experience with 10 years of entrepreneurship under her belt and is quite an inspiration to all women working to make their businesses a success.
The episode also takes a look at stats and numbers that paint a picture of how women are fairing in their businesses, as compared to the overall space.
Episode two highlights the need to reduce the gender gap, seeing that women are only receiving 7% Private Equity and Venture Capital in emerging markets. The episode features more voices from women entrepreneurs, including yours truly and Florence Kamaitha of Herbusiness.co.ke. Here, the speakers further explore barriers and challenges faced by women but more importantly, the panelists speak of the solutions put in place by their respective organizations. They also take a look at the storm that was Covid19 and how women led businesses are being supported to remained resilient through funding, technology and technical knowhow.
In the last episode, the series wraps up the series by looking at the importance of corporate participation in women economic empowerment. Visa and Standard Bank are already leading the way in this by creating inclusive programs that target women and these are highlighted throughout the series. One of my favorite points is how Visa is helping as many women get online as possible because being a digital entrepreneur myself, I know firsthand how far digital access can drive a business. Aida Diarra speaks of one solution that really excites her, and that is the use of mobile phones as acceptance devices. Given the high penetration of mobile phones, this is a game changer for all businesses big and small.
This series is a must watch for insights on how women led businesses can be supported to grow. The series paints a pretty clear picture in data and numbers, of just how much women entrepreneurs are contributing to the economies in their countries, and how much more they can do if the barriers to success were reduced. We are looking at barriers like lack of access to funding, lack of collateral for loans, and biases like women being perceived as risky because of the time they need to make and raise their families. But women are resilient and are still working through all this and more gender gaps need to be filled to elevate women to their full potential.