Visa supports women-owned SMEs and youth with digital and financial skills

    LifestyleCSRVisa supports women-owned SMEs and youth with digital and financial skills

    Visa, a global leader in payment solutions, is committed to promoting digital and financial inclusion by equipping women and youth in Southeast Asia with essential digital and financial skills, to foster sustainable growth and pave the way for long-term success. An OECD report found that rural communities, women, and certain ethnic minority groups face barriers to realizing the full uptake of digital options. Many frequently encounter growth hurdles due to cultural and institutional obstacles, coupled with a preference for informal financing.

    Southeast Asia’s young population, who constitute nearly a third of Southeast Asia, along with the region’s SMEs and MSMEs, which constitute 99% of businesses, are key to economic growth. Visa is aiding this progress by enhancing digital and financial literacy for women SME owners and young individuals. In 2023, Visa digitally enabled 10 million SMEs in Asia Pacific. Visa Foundation has committed over USD47M in the region, which has helped support two million women-led SMEs and sustain 500,000 jobs, and recently pledged $100M to APEC economies over five years.

    Stephen Karpin, Regional President, Asia Pacific, Visa, said: “In the Philippines, women and young people form a crucial engine propelling local economic growth. Visa utilizes our resources and vast network to give back to the communities we operate in, particularly in promoting digital and financial inclusion. We believe in the transformative power of providing individuals and communities with global access to digital financial tools. As a key partner in Southeast Asia’s financial ecosystem, Visa is committed to reaching the most underserved communities, ensuring they too can reap the benefits of the digital economy.”

    Kelly Tullier, Vice Chair, Chief People and Corporate Affairs Officer, Visa, added: “At Visa, we are dedicated to empowering women, particularly those running small businesses, to set them up for success. My trip to Vietnam reinforced how contributions within local communities are most impactful when done in concert with leaders on the ground. We met Visa Foundation partner, WISE Vietnam (Women’s Initiative for Startups and Entrepreneurship), which has supported 100,000 women entrepreneurs in Vietnam with access to digital tools to grow their businesses. Meanwhile, Visa’s partnership with The Asia Foundation enables us to work with government agencies and microfinance institutions to support local businesses and help the digital economy thrive. By supporting each other, we lay the groundwork for equitable futures for all.”

    Visa and Visa Foundation forge strategic partnerships that help advance digitization and financial inclusion in communities across Southeast Asia, with several Social Impact initiatives that include: 

    The Philippines: Uplifting the Philippines’ future leaders through financial and academic education

    Teach for the Philippines, represented by its Chief Executive Officer Mavie Almeda Ungco (eighth from the left) and Chief of Staff Angel Ramos (sixth from the left), received a $250,000 grant from Visa Foundation, represented by Visa’s Vice President of Inclusive Impact & Sustainability for Asia Pacific Patsian Low (ninth from the left), to continue championing financial literacy and education in the country.

    Visa’s financial literacy program in the Philippines, launched in 2017, has educated over 36,000 students and teachers in 64 schools across 21 cities. It works with Tanghalang Pilipino, the resident theater company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and Teach for the Philippines (TFP), a non-profit organization, with support from Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. The program involves a Tagalog skit presented in schools, which later became two web series centered around financial literacy. TFP was also a recent recipient of a Visa Foundation grant which will support student development programs and leadership development programs that deploy transformative teachers and changemakers in schools and education governance agencies. 

    Indonesia: Empowering women-led SMBs with skills to drive financial and digital inclusion 

    In Indonesia, the “Ibu Berbagi Bijak” (Women Sharing Wisdom) financial literacy program has impacted over 1,400 women positively since its inception in 2017, including over 1,000 women-led MSMEs across Central Java, Yogyakarta, Bali, and West Java through workshops, mentoring, and business matching. This was made possible with support from regional governments, Bank Indonesia, the Financial Services Authority, and relevant ministries such as the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, as well as the Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs.

    Moreover, Visa Foundation’s collaboration with UN Women and Swiss Association for Entrepreneurs in Emerging Markets resulted in a program that supports women-led care enterprises with business training, mentorship, and access to networks and finance. After completing the program, the first cohort collectively impacted more than 27,000 care beneficiaries, and over 6,500 employees and independent caregivers.

    Vietnam: Supporting ethnic minorities, youth, and women business owners

    In Vietnam, the “Accelerate My Business” program is a partnership with The Asia Foundation, and the Center for Women and Development, providing basic financial, business, and digital knowledge to Vietnam’s micro and SME owners in disadvantaged areas. The goal is to empower 25,000 female business owners in the next three years. Furthermore, Visa supports households and ethnic minority communities in partnership with the Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs via a three-year MOU signed with the State Bank of Vietnam in 2023. The annual Financial Literacy Program, established since 2012 with the Central Committee of the Vietnam Students’ Association, seeks to improve financial and business literacy in Vietnam.  

    Cambodia: Supporting women through financial literacy and entrepreneurship programs 

    Visa works with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in Cambodia (MoWA) and the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) to support women through financial literacy and entrepreneurship programs. Since 2020, Visa, MoWA, and NBC have collaborated on a four-year initiative, “Promoting Financial Literacy for Women and Women Entrepreneurs”, that has helped more than 10,000 women entrepreneurs and students. Given NBC’s progressive commitment to reduce the financial exclusion of women by half from 27 percent to 13 percent as stated in its National Financial Inclusion Strategy 2019-2025, Visa is committed to aligning with NBC’s goals in its social impact programs. 

    Visa Foundation’s partnership with The Asia Foundation has supported over 1,200 women entrepreneurs in the Philippines and Cambodia. In Cambodia, the project provided over 800 women entrepreneurs from 12 provinces with access to capital, financial education, business training, and online markets through existing e-commerce platforms.

    Its commitment to broader social impact goals has resulted in the digital enablement of 67 million SMEs globally. For more information on social impact initiatives, resources and solutions for small and micro-businesses, visit the Visa Small Business Hub. For more information about Visa Foundation, read the inaugural impact report.

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