In 2023, a global payments company, Visa will launch the Kenyan edition of Visa Everywhere Initiative (VEI) and She's Next—a women’s empowerment program.
VEI is an open innovation program that enables startups to unlock new opportunities and also gives them a global platform to demonstrate their ground-breaking solutions. Since its launch in 2015, almost 8,500 startups have participated in the initiative, and have collectively raised more than $16 billion in funding.
More recently, Nigerian agro-fintech company, ThriveAgric emerged as the winner of the VEI 2022 for Central Europe, Middle East, and Africa Region (CEMEA) and later clinched the global price as well winning about $120,000.
"We are excited to be able to collaborate with the government and our partners to bring our global programs for startups to Kenya. We have also seen how transformative digitisation initiatives have been for small businesses in Kenya and are looking forward to partnering to drive even further access to more financial services for these businesses where gaps still exist, particularly among women," Aida Diarra, Senior Vice President and Head of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) at Visa, said.
Kenya has an estimated 7.4 million SMBs and Visa is targeting a fivefold increase in the number of Kenyan small businesses they will digitize in the next five years. Globally, since the onset of the pandemic, Visa has directly supported more than 40 million SMBs worldwide, following a June 2020 commitment to digitally enable 50 million SMBs.
Recently, Visa launched several local initiatives including a grant of $2.4 million to Hand in Hand, an NPO, for the execution of the Kenya Micro Enterprise Success programme (KMES). To date, the programme has worked directly with 10,750 beneficiaries to improve their quality of life and financial resilience, against an original target of 10,200.
"The Hand in Hand partnership is an example of the impact we can have through collaboration and our extended commitment to enabling SMBs is a testament to our belief in the potential of this segment to improve lives and drive economic growth for our country," Eva Ngigi-Sarwari, Country Leader for Kenya at Visa, added.
Overall, the programme has created 5,178 jobs against an initial target of 2,766, and enhanced 8,708 enterprises, with 86% of them being women-owned.
Editor's Note: This is a developing story, it will be updated with more details.