Malak El Baba, Visa’s Egypt country manager, has detailed the company’s vision for civil work and the most prominent areas that Visa focuses on supporting in the context of its societal role.

She revealed that the Visa Foundation has awarded $210m to small and micro businesses, and immediate emergency COVID-19 relief through two programmes in line with the Foundation’s long-term focus on women’s economic advancement and inclusive economic development and to meet an urgent need from local communities after the spread of the virus.

What is the role of the company in the field of social impact?

Visa is committed to promoting inclusive, equitable, and sustainable economic growth for everyone, everywhere. Visa actively works with financial institutions, governments, and fintech companies to provide underserved communities and unbanked populations with access to innovative financial solutions. We also continue to provide relief and support to frontline organizations and small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help the communities in which we operate, we have achieved carbon neutrality in our operations and have switched to 100% renewable electricity. And now we are working to drive sustainable trade, support urgent climate action, and the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Through the Visa Foundation, Visa seeks to support economic inclusion so that individuals, businesses, and societies can succeed and thrive. By providing grants and investments, the Visa Foundation works to achieve growth and gender diversity for small and micro-businesses. The Visa Foundation also supports meeting the needs of societies on a larger scale and responding to any disasters in times of crisis.

What are the most prominent and important areas that the company focuses on supporting in the context of its societal role?

Social responsibility is part of Visa’s commitment to promoting inclusive, equitable, and sustainable growth for everyone, everywhere. Our focus is on driving initiatives that use our network, products, financial resources, collective expertise, and the commitment of our employees to reach those who are often underserved, providing them with access to resources that help them improve their economic livelihoods, businesses, and communities.

We work towards equality and inclusion as societies and economies thrive when individuals and businesses are included in the formal financial system and can benefit from financial and digital access. Our initiatives and partnerships focus on paving the way for equitable access to the financial and digital ecosystem for everyone, everywhere. We are committed to strengthening the adoption of digital services in the communities in which we live and work by using our resources, network, and employees’ talents to create a positive social impact where it is needed most.

How much has been spent on corporate social responsibility so far? What are the amounts that have been allocated for this matter in 2022?

In fiscal year 2020, Visa contributed more than $23.5m to charities around the world, while the Visa Foundation funded $22.7m in grants.

The Visa Foundation has also provided $250,000 in funding to organizations across Egypt that support small and micro businesses (SMBs) to help empower more women. The grant aims to support the economic empowerment programme for young Egyptian women and create inclusive economic growth by supporting the employment of women in Egypt through Employment and Entrepreneurship Training.

Has the COVID-19 changed the company’s priorities in spending on social responsibility?

Of course, helping the community during the Covid-19 has been a priority. Visa Foundation provided $15m in emergency relief to support organizations operating on the front lines in responding to the global COVID-19 pandemic, including nearly $4m for the Red Crescent, and $5m for Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance.

At Visa, we have been committed to supporting our employees, customers, and communities around the world as we deal with the evolving social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognized the critical role Visa plays in keeping businesses, people, and economies moving in the face of uncertainty by ensuring that the entire payments system remains stable and secure. Our commitment to this mission has never been more important.

The Visa Foundation has also committed to award $210m to support small and micro businesses and immediate emergency COVID-19 relief through two programmes in line with the Foundation’s long-term focus on women’s economic advancement and inclusive economic development and to meet an urgent need from local communities after the spread of the virus.

What is your vision for civil work and the role of civil society in Egypt?

There is no doubt that Egypt has a strong civil society that contributes to upholding human rights practices and participates strongly with state agencies in achieving social justice. The Civil Society Law of 2019 came to set controls for the form and activities of the work of various NGOs, which represented a qualitative leap in the history of social work in Egypt, as it reflects the state’s belief in the vital role of civil society organizations in achieving development in various fields.

Believing in the role of civil work and helping the communities in which it operates, Visa has entered into a partnership with the Information Technology Industry Development Authority (ITIDA) in Egypt to support entrepreneurs and start-ups specialized in the field of financial technology.

Under the agreement, Visa supports start-ups and innovators through its programme to support the financial technology community, which includes technical training, guidance, mentorship, and marketing to achieve successful models that meet business requirements by quickly adapting to Visa technology and testing the payment solutions proposed by emerging companies and ensuring their applicability and compatibility with the standards and determinants of the company. Visa also relied on its global network of partners to help the process of matchmaking between start-ups and potential partners.

Visa is also working to provide technological tools for entrepreneurs and startups by providing access to Visa’s development API to provide innovative financial technology companies with more ease and speed in integrating with the global Visa network and experimenting with the Visa environment for secure testing of new programmes

Visa also cooperated with the Egyptian Banking Institute (EBI), the training arm of the Central Bank of Egypt, to spread and promote awareness of the importance of cashless payments and information security, through a programme to support the digital transformation of merchants and support emerging projects.

Will the Egyptian president’s declaration of 2022 as the year of civil society contribute to increasing this role?

In a humanitarian and civilized gesture, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi declared 2022 a “year of civil society.” The president also called on civil society to continue working hard and diligently side by side with the Egyptian state institutions, to achieve sustainable development in all fields, and to spread awareness of a culture of human rights towards realizing the hopes and aspirations of the Egyptian people.

This declaration emphasizes the role of civil society institutions as a key partner in many projects and initiatives to implement the national human rights strategy.

All institutions, ministries, concerned parties, and civil society organizations have to cooperate and collaborate to implement the work of the national strategy and work to solve human rights issues and all the various fields it includes.

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