Visa (NYSE: V), which claims to be the leader in virtual payments, recently announced the launch of its global She’s Next initiative in the United Arab Emirates in order to economically empower women entrepreneurs.
The initiative has been introduced with assistance from First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), which is one of the UAE‘s largest bank, and the Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC).
She’s Next supported by Visa is an international advocacy program that aims to offer practical insights and tools to SMBs, such as networking, mentoring and various funding opportunities.
Since 2020, Visa has reportedly invested over $2.2 million in more than 200 grants and coaching for women SMB owners via the She’s Next grant program including in US, Canada, India and Ireland.
Women company owners across UAE are able to join She’s Next and submit applications for funding and access peer networks and educational resources that help with addressing the challenges mentioned in a Visa study of women business owners.
The main findings are as follows:
- A majority of women – 86% – said getting funding for their ventures had been a challenge with 76% using their personal savings to start their businesses. Seventy-three (73%) cited finding a business partner as a key challenge with three in five women concerned about the long-term success of their startups.
- Four in 10 women (41%) admitted that gender stereotypes have negatively affected their work as an entrepreneur, with 76% saying they felt that societal approval or disapproval played a role in their choice of career or business.
- Seven in 10 women said they currently accept both cash and cashless payments from their customers. More than half (51%) of women said they would use the additional funding to invest in new technologies, and for advertising and marketing.
- Being financially independent ranked as the top motivation when starting a business followed by the desire to realize a dream, their ability to make use of their time and to be a leader and responsible for the results of their business.
The areas female entrepreneurs noted that they really wanted to learn about are how to better set goals for profitability of their companies, how to create stronger strategies, and ways to survive the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
The She’s Next initiative includes various mentoring programs that offer women entrepreneurs with access to insights from women professionals in the public and private sectors, along with tools and educational resources they require to further develop their businesses.
She’s Next, supported by Visa, will also provide networking opportunities in partnership with the Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC), a platform for personal and professional development for business women in the Emirate of Dubai.
Dr. Saeeda Jaffar, Senior Vice President and Group Country Manager for the GCC, Visa, said:
“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’re excited to help women business-owners across UAE today through the first She’s Next grant program and offer access to coaching and support through IFundWomen as well as that injection of USD10,000 in capital. We are also honored to be partnering with FAB and DBWC, who will help us in our mission to not only empower women entrepreneurs, but also create for them a supportive environment in which they can grow and thrive.”
Sara Al Binali, Group Head of Corporate, Commercial and International Banking at FAB, said:
“Increasing women’s participation in business is an important social objective for FAB within our ESG strategy. Almost one-third of our own mid to senior managers were female as of 2021, and we are targeting 30 percent in senior management by 2025 and 40 percent by 2030. Through She’s Next we reflect that commitment into the wider economy and our customer base. With this partnership we are working to understanding the barriers women face as entrepreneurs in our region, and giving them the resources, networks and knowledge to bring down those barriers and open a pathway to growing their business.”
Nadine Halabi, Business Development Manager at Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC) remarked:
“Partnering with Visa and First Abu Dhabi Bank on such a distinctive initiative aligns with DBWC’s mission to empower female entrepreneurs and support their business development and growth. As a result, the She’s Next program offers specialized training and guidance as well as funding to the program’s winners, which is the first step towards the progress and development of any business.”
As the engine of commerce, Visa is also offering access to entrepreneurial knowledge and tools to support businesses in the digital era via Visa’s Practical Business Skills platform.
The Visa She’s Next Grant Program will support small businesses, with a focus on unlocking the potential of the most promising women entrepreneurs.
Women entrepreneurs in the UAE from all industry segments are being invited to participate in the Visa She’s Next Grant Program.
The winner will get one of five $10,000 grants, a 1-year IFundWomen coaching membership, and access to resources like the workshop library and community of entrepreneurs.
Applications are open through July 20, 2022.