Supporting small and micro businesses (SMBs) has been an urgent priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with a great need among minority-owned small businesses, which are disproportionately impacted. Building on Visa’s long-term commitment to this community, Visa Foundation announced new initiatives to provide nearly $5 million in capital to minority-led SMBs, amid a second wave of COVID-19. Visa also announced mentorship programs to further support minority-led SMBs. At the same time, the Visa Economic Empowerment Institute (VEEI) released a new white paper, Supporting Social Equity by Boosting Small Businesses. The paper highlights that Black and African American-owned businesses experienced a larger drop in business ownership (41 percent) than other businesses.
The VEEI white paper details the historical trends and systemic barriers exacerbating the current state of Black-owned SMBs across the U.S. It outlines policy measures to address these barriers, focused on helping businesses survive, investing in equity in education and in targeted opportunities, such as training and scholarship programs.
As part of its commitment to support SMBs and to address the challenges in access to capital of underrepresented groups broadly, including women and racial and ethnic minority communities, Visa Foundation commits the following:
- $3 million to Black Ambition, a newly launched racial equity and entrepreneurship initiative launched by producer and entrepreneur Pharrell Williams in partnership with five Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
- $1.5 million to Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to increase small business resiliency for women entrepreneurs of color directly impacted by COVID-19.
- $300,000 to VC Include, a Women of Color-led organization building economic justice infrastructure for Black, Latinx, Indigenous, people of color, and women-led funds through education and training programs to support their fundraising journey and build relationships with Limited Partners.
“The capital gap for entrepreneurs of color must be closed if we are to achieve inclusive economic growth for everyone, everywhere,” said Graham Macmillan, president, Visa Foundation. “Visa Foundation is privileged to partner with these organizations that are addressing this funding and opportunity gap by helping them to empower women, Black and Latinx entrepreneurs. These grants represent just the beginning of our commitment to allocate capital, both grants and investments, to gender and racially-diverse investors and entrepreneurs.”
Additionally, Visa recently launched a Visa employee mentorship program with Bridge for Billions. Through this online program, Visa employees will mentor Black, primarily women-owned SMBs on a three-month incubation journey to help them review their business model, define their financial projections, create a growth plan for their venture and much more. Start-ups or early-stage entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply here by December 31, 2020, to be considered for the program starting in February 2021.
These new initiatives build on Visa’s commitment to racial equity and support of SMBs during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Visa Black Scholars and Jobs Program, the expansion of Practical Business Skills (a financial and digital skills education platform) and the Visa’s grant program with IFundWomen, which awarded 25 $10,000 grants and IFundWomen coaching to Black women-owned small businesses. Visa Foundation’s new grants extend its commitment of $200 million to support SMBs, with a focus on women’s economic advancement.
About Visa Foundation
Visa Foundation seeks to support inclusive economies where individuals, businesses and communities can thrive. Through grantmaking and investing, the Foundation prioritizes the resilience and growth of micro and small businesses that benefit women. The Foundation also supports broader community needs and disaster response in times of crisis. Visa Foundation is registered in the U.S. as a 501(c)3 entity. For more information, visit: https://usa.visa.com/about-visa/philanthropy/visa-foundation.html.
About Visa Inc.
Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) is the world’s leader in digital payments. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, reliable and secure payment network – enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. Our advanced global processing network, VisaNet, provides secure and reliable payments around the world, and is capable of handling more than 65,000 transaction messages a second. The company’s relentless focus on innovation is a catalyst for the rapid growth of digital commerce on any device, for everyone, everywhere. As the world moves from analog to digital, Visa is applying our brand, products, people, network and scale to reshape the future of commerce. For more information, visit: About Visa, visa.com/blog and @VisaNews.
About Visa Economic Empowerment Institute
Visa Economic Empowerment Institute (VEEI) is a center of excellence for research and public-private dialogue on payments policy, established by Visa. The VEEI’s overarching mission is to promote public policies that empower citizens, small businesses, and economies. It develops new research and insights that inform long term policy within the global payments ecosystem. Visa established the VEEI as the next step in its ongoing work to remove barriers to economic empowerment and to create more inclusive, equitable economic opportunities for everyone, everywhere. For more information, visit: https://usa.visa.com/sites/visa-economic-empowerment-institute.html.