BCN Staff – March 8, 2021 — Credit Card giant Visa Inc. today announced a new locally-focused program to help digitally enable Black-centric small businesses, with an emphasis on those owned by Black women.
Visa’s announcement comes nearly three weeks after East Coast credit card rival Mastercard kicked off a consumer-facing platform with Grammy award winning singer/songwriter Jennifer Hudson to elevate the visibility of Black female business owners as a vital part of the nation’s economy. See story here.
Through its Visa Partners arm, the San Francisco-based credit card provider said its new venture fund will address the needs of local entrepreneurs in cities with the highest concentration of Black-owned businesses in the U.S., including Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington, D.C. The programming will consist of grants and mentorship, new educational and technology resources plus direct community relationships in partnership with Black Girl Ventures.
“The pandemic has impacted all small businesses – but those run by women and people of color have been disproportionately affected,” said Kimberly Lawrence, head of U.S., Visa. “With this hyperlocal focus on some of the hardest hit cities, Visa aims to make a meaningful difference, quickly, for the communities and their business owners who need it most.”
Black-owned businesses play a critical role in communities across the country, with more than a third headed by women – the highest share of any racial or ethnic group. According to Visa’s Black women-owned Business Report, nearly three quarters (71%) of Black-women-owned businesses surveyed across the U.S. estimate they cannot survive another year under current pandemic conditions. Building on the support Visa provides women-owned small businesses through its She’s Next program, this new effort brings resources and expertise to provide entrepreneurs with tailored solutions for each city. Specifics of the program include:
- The Visa She’s Next Grant Program: Visa is committing an additional $1 million to extend its grant contest and mentorship program to Black women entrepreneurs in six U.S. cities, with grant applications opening today, ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8.
- Mainstream Marketing and Awareness: Through a multi-million dollar marketing campaign, Visa will encourage consumers to support Black and women entrepreneurs, in an effort to help drive business to small businesses. The six-city social, digital, OOH, mass transit and radio campaigns will run throughout 2021.
- Local Experts and Resources: Through a new partnership with Black Girl Ventures, Visa will work with local organizations and influencers to reach small businesses, identify their most pressing technological needs and provide them with access to the products and education they need to help them thrive.
“Black Girl Ventures is proud to partner with Visa to assist these entrepreneurs and provide a megaphone to each community’s most pressing needs,” said Shelly Bell, founder, Black Girl Ventures. “While the Black Lives Matter movement elevated consumer support of these businesses, the movement must continue to lift up these neighborhoods financially and spiritually.”
In addition to the work with Black Girl Ventures, Visa will host the first of a series of events on March 25 to celebrate the Black community and women entrepreneurs. Hosted in partnership with The Female Quotient, a female-owned business committed to advancing equality, the virtual event, She’s Next 2021, will feature inspiring women and men who will discuss their personal experiences and the necessary work ahead to help champion, educate and inspire the Black community and women business owners. All interested small business owners can register here.
“Working to support and build up Miami’s minority entrepreneurial communities is top of my agenda for 2021,” said Francis Xavier Suarez, Mayor of Miami. “Visa and Black Girl Ventures are the perfect partners to help uplift these women and their businesses to bring back the best of what ‘main street’ has to offer.”
In 2020, Visa committed to digitally-enabling 50 million small businesses through partner offers, street team visits, virtual education seminars and mentorship opportunities. To further support the Black community and women entrepreneurs, Visa launched targeted programs ranging from the Visa Black Scholars and Jobs Program, in partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, to new partnerships with CapWay, First Boulevard, OneUnited Bank and Urban One to provide financial and business services that cater to the needs of the Black community. In addition, the Visa Foundation committed $200 million over five years to support small and micro businesses around the world, with a focus on fostering women’s economic advancement.
“Visa has elevated its longstanding commitment of underrepresented communities through an increased focus on financial and social capital and will provide updates on these local programs throughout the year,” continued Kimberly Lawrence, head of U.S., Visa.
For more information on Visa’s She’s Next initiative, visit Visa.com/ShesNext.
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