Visa Supports Women-Owned SMBs And Youths In Southeast Asia With Digital And Financial Skills

date_range 03-Jun-2024
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Phnom Penh, May 30, 2024 --

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, according to the company’s press release dated May 29.

An OECD report found that rural communities, women, and certain ethnic minority groups face barriers to realising 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 percent 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 US$47M in the region, which has helped support two million women-led SMEs and sustain 500,000 jobs, and recently pledged US$100M to APEC economies over five years.

“In Cambodia, women and young people form a crucial engine propelling local economic growth. Visa utilises 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,” said Mr. Stephen Karpin, Regional President, Asia Pacific, Visa.

Ms. 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 digitisation and financial inclusion in communities across Southeast Asia, with several Social Impact initiatives. In Cambodia, 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.