COVID-19: Visa Foundation commits $210m to support SMEs

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The Visa Foundation says it has committed 210 million dollars to two programmes to support small and micro businesses to address urgent needs from local communities following the spread of COVID-19.

Mr Al Kelly, Chairman, Visa, said on Tuesday in Lagos that the support was in alignment with the foundation’s long-term focus on women’s economic advancement and inclusive economic development.

Kelly, in a statement, detailed that the first programme of 10 million dollars was designated for immediate emergency relief to support charitable organisations on the frontlines responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to him, such include public health and food relief in each of the five geographic regions in which 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 way to accelerate economic activity in line with our mission to help individuals, businesses and economies thrive,” he said.

Kelly said the second programme was a five-year strategic 200 million dollar commitment to support small and micro businesses around the world, focussing on fostering women’s economic advancement.

This action, he said, would expand the Visa Foundation’s long-standing support for small and micro businesses globally.

“The funds from the Visa Foundation will provide capital to non-government organisations (NGOs) and investment partners supporting small and micro businesses.

“Small and micro businesses are backbone of the global economy, accounting for more than 90 per cent of worldwide businesses and contributing 50 to 60 per cent of global employment.

“There is a 300 billion dollars annual 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.

Also, Mr Graham Macmillan, President, Visa Foundation disclosed that through the 200 million dollars SMEs programme, the Visa Foundation would provide 60 million dollars in grants to NGOs dedicated to supporting small and micro business owners, many of whom are women, in every region where Visa operates.

“The Visa Foundation will also allocate140 million dollars with investment partners that generate positive social and financial returns for small and micro businesses.

“Two hundred million dollars in new financial resources demonstrates our continuing commitment to support small and micro businesses, with a focus on women’s economic advancement globally.

“When women thrive, communities thrive. We know this matters now, more than ever as the global economy seeks to recover and rebuild,” Macmillan said.

Visa operates in North America; Latin America and the Caribbean; Europe; Asia Pacific; and Central Europe, Middle East and Africa. (NAN)


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