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Empowering women in business

By Moses Omusolo | Mar 3rd 2020 | 2 min read
By Moses Omusolo | March 3rd 2020
Visa Senior VP and Country Manager for SSA Aida Diarra.


Despite significant gains, women are still underrepresented in business. According to a Harvard Business Review report, women control Sh2,000 trillion in annual spending.

However, making it in business has not been easy for them due to hurdles ranging from lack of mentoring to inadequate funding. Aida Diarra explains what Visa’s She’s Next initiative is about. Below are the excerpts.

What benefits accrue from Visa’s She’s Next initiative?

She’s Next is Visa’s global programme to support female entrepreneurs.

Women entrepreneurs are the backbone of local economies and this initiative aims to provide them with tools to build their businesses. We offer a year-long programme of education, digital payment technology and a peer network.

What prompted the initiative?

Women continue to make notable headways in entrepreneurship. In 2016 alone, an estimated 163 million women were starting or running new businesses in 74 economies globally. In Kenya, according to the 2016 survey of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Entrepreneurial (MSMEs), there are 7.41 million MSMEs in Kenya of which 5.85 million are informal and 1.56 million are formal.

More than 60 per cent of the informal are women-owned. For formal enterprises, some 47.9 per cent are male-owned while women own 32.2 per cent. Despite these gains, a woman still faces twice the hurdles a man would have faced while establishing himself as an entrepreneur, especially those in developing countries. This prompted Visa to come up with a programme that supports them.

What role does Visa’s technology play in empowering women entrepreneurs?

Visa recently commissioned a study to investigate the role of electronic payments in enabling the success of female entrepreneurs in Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria.

From the research, women acknowledge the role of electronic payments in business success, with some confiding that customers spend more when they have access to electronic payments as opposed to cash.

However, a majority of women in Kenya and Nigeria still rely more on cash transaction. It is against this background that Visa has incorporated the technology aspect of the programme to expand payment options for these women entrepreneurs.

What is your advice to other women business leaders?

Closing the gender gap requires persistence, hard work and support. The She’s Next in Africa seeks to encourage female micro-and small-business owners to fund, run and grow their businesses.

The number of women entrepreneurs is growing with 163 million starting businesses since 2014 alone.

The highest percentages of these women are in Africa, where 26 per cent of them start or manage a business.

What is peculiar about women investments?

Women reinvest up to 90 per cent of their income in the education, health and nutrition of their families and communities - compared to up to 40 per cent for men – who make investing in women’s businesses one way that Visa can help in transforming societies.  

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