Visa has announced a donation to the African Women Impact Fund (Awif), a joint effort of Standard Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca).
The grant will be used to fund the working capital needs of female fund managers in Africa’s southern, eastern, and western regions, with a focus on the 55 women who responded to Awif’s call to action and have been a part of their program since 2020.
The grant from Visa to the Awif is an extension of the She’s Next program, a global advocacy initiative for women-owned businesses that has been expanded within Sub-Saharan Africa to further champion and strengthen African women business owners as they build, sustain, and advance their businesses.
With African women accounting for only 7.6% of private equity and women-led businesses receiving only 7% of private equity and venture capital in emerging markets, this demonstrates the opportunities to close the gender gap. This is also reflected in the fact that women and people of color manage less than 1.3% of the $69.1 trillion in global financial assets.
“The goal of She’s Next is to help women-owned businesses thrive, and our goal with this grant is to provide access to a market where women-owned businesses are under-represented.”
“With this program, we hope to ensure that women are not only recipients, but also decision-makers when it comes to institutional funding for businesses,” said Aida Diarra, senior vice president and head of Sub-Saharan Africa at the World Bank.
Increasing funding to have a greater impact
Visa funding will be directed toward activities that will help business owners improve their technical skillsets, become investible to larger institutional investors, and run profitable businesses that will, in turn, invest in others, including small and medium businesses.
“With the funding, these business owners will be able to focus on growing their enterprises without the burden of managing short-term debt and other operational costs associated with building a successful business,” Diarra added.
The grant to Awif will cover three areas:
Portfolio management capabilities include portfolio structuring, risk management, and administration.
Investment research capability includes identifying investment opportunities, due diligence, mandate alignment, and continuous investment and operations monitoring.
“We are thrilled to have Visa partner with Standard Bank, and we are grateful for their significant contribution to the African Women Impact Fund.” Gender equity is seen by Standard Bank as both a fundamental human right and a business imperative.
“The group believes that economic empowerment of women is critical to increasing Africa’s economic output and creating sustainable jobs, particularly within the small businesses that drive growth on the continent,” the report concludes.