The Visa Foundation has today announced a commitment to invest in two programs totaling $210 Million. This is in a bid to support small and micro businesses.

The investment aligns with the foundation’s long term focus on women’s economic advancement and inclusive economic development. It also addresses an urgent need for funding from local communities following the spread of Covid-19.

An amount USD 10 Million had been designated for emergency relief in support of charitable organisations which are on the frontlines responding to the Covid-19 pandemic such as public health and food relief. This will be in the five geographic regions in which Visa operates that is North America, Asia Pacific, Central Europe, Middle East and Africa which includes Kenya.

The second program is a five year strategic commitment to the tune of $200 Million to support small and micro businesses around the world. In this case the focus will be fostering women’s economic advancement. NGO’s which are dedicated to supporting SMEs more so women owned will be allocated $60 Million. $140 Million will be allocated to investment partners that generate positive social and financial returns for small and micro businesses.

The investment has been necessitated by the fact that small and micro businesses are the backbone of the global economy. They account for more than 90 percent of worldwide businesses and contribute 50-60 percent of global employment. Currently, there is a $300 Billion credit deficit in funding for women owned businesses a situation which is expected to worsen given the economic turmoil courtesy of the pandemic.

Al Kelly, CEO and Chairman of Visa, had this to say, “Now more than ever, we must accelerate our support for small businesses on the frontlines driving economic growth. As many SME owners are women, we believe that there will be a ripple effect in supporting women economic advancement which we believe is one of the most important ways to achieve gender equality, reduce poverty and foster inclusive economic development.”