Visa, CIB launch global ‘She’s Next Initiative’ for first time in Egypt

Daily News Egypt
7 Min Read

Egypt’s female entrepreneurs are invited to apply for one of five $10,000 grants and one year of coaching from IFundWomen with networking and mentoring opportunities

Visa announced on Monday the launch of its global ‘She’s Next Initiative’ in Egypt to economically empower local female entrepreneurs and SMB owners.

The initiative is launched in partnership with the Commercial International Bank (CIB) — one of the largest banks in the Egyptian private sector — and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) — the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic player driving development results.

She’s Next is a global advocacy programme that brings practical insights and tools to women-led small businesses, including networking, mentoring, and funding opportunities.

Since 2020, Visa has invested more than $2.2m in over 200 grants and coaching sessions for female SME owners through the programme in the US, Canada, India, and Ireland.

Female business owners across Egypt can join She’s Next and apply for funding and access peer networks and educational resources that can help to address the challenges revealed in a recent Visa study of female entrepreneurs.

The study’s key findings include:

• A majority of women (69%) said getting funding for their ventures had been a challenge, with 77% using their personal savings to start their businesses, and 53% cited finding a business partner as a key challenge, with four in six women concerned about the long-term success of their start-ups.

• Three in 10 women admitted that gender stereotypes have negatively affected their work as an entrepreneur, with 80% saying they felt that societal approval or disapproval played a role in their choice of career or business.

• Two in three women said they currently accept both cash and cashless payments from their customers. More than half of women also said they would use the additional funding to invest in advertising and marketing.

• Being financially independent ranked as the top motivation when starting a business, followed by the desire to realise a dream, to achieve a balance between home and work, and to be a leader and responsible for the results of their business.

The areas female entrepreneurs said they wanted to learn more about were how to better set goals for profitability of their businesses, how to develop stronger strategies, and ways to survive the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The She’s Next Initiative includes a series of mentoring programmes that provide these entrepreneurs with access to practical insights from female leaders in the public and private sectors as well as valuable tools and educational resources they need to grow and develop their businesses.

She’s Next will also deliver significant networking and capacity building opportunities in partnership with USAID.

The initiative is one part of a new partnership agreement between USAID and Visa to empower micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), with a special focus on women-led small businesses.

This partnership will facilitate the use of electronic payment platforms to promote financial inclusion and foster inclusive economic growth. Through this collaboration, hundreds of MSMEs will receive capacity building training and opportunities to join online markets, digitise their supply chains, and introduce digital payment systems to their customers.

E-commerce opportunities will also be expanded to enable further economic opportunities, especially for women-led small businesses.

Malak Al-Baba — Visa Egypt’s Country Manager — commented: “Women who own and manage businesses face a unique set of challenges, including access to capital and peer networks as well as societal pressures. That’s why we are excited to help female business-owners across Egypt today through the first She’s Next grant programme and offer access to coaching and support through IFundWomen as well as that injection of $10,000 in capital.  We are also honoured to be partnering with CIB and USAID, who will help us in our mission to not only empower female entrepreneurs, but also create for them a supportive environment in which they can grow and thrive.”

“We are proud of this partnership, which falls in line with the CIB’s strategy to support small- and medium-sized enterprises and empower women led-business. Through She’s Next, we plan to harness the power of Visa’s global brand and network to build awareness of women entrepreneurs, invest in them, and provide them with the tools and funds to build their businesses in Egypt,” said Hany El-Dieb — Head of Business Banking Segments and Products & Credit Relations Management at CIB.

For his part, USAID Acting Mission Director Mark Driver said: “The US government reaffirms our commitment to empowering women through this new partnership.  Through USAID and Visa’s collaboration, five Egyptian women-led businesses will have the chance to win a $10,000 grant to grow their business. Hundreds more of female entrepreneurs will acquire new skills through training and have access to learning resources to take their careers and businesses to the next level.”

This new grant programme builds on Visa’s commitment to digitally enable 50m small businesses around the world to kickstart recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the trusted engine of commerce, Visa is also providing access to entrepreneurial knowledge and tools to unleash businesses in the digital era via Visa’s Practical Business Skills platform.

Female entrepreneurs in Egypt from all industries and sectors are invited to participate in the Visa She’s Next grant programme. The winner will receive one of five $10,000 grants, a one-year IFundWomen coaching membership, and access to resources such as the workshop library and a community of entrepreneurs.

Applications are open now through July 20, 2022. For more information and details click here.

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