• Almost 9 out of 10 women surveyed in UAE faced challenges securing funding for their ventures; more than 3 out of 4 are tapping into personal savings to start businesses

Dubai, UAE:- Visa, the world's leader in digital payments, today announced the launch of its global She's Next initiative in UAE to economically empower local women entrepreneurs.  The initiative is launched in partnership with First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), the UAE's largest bank, and the Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC). She's Next empowered by Visa is a global advocacy program that brings practical insights and tools to small businesses, including networking, mentoring and funding opportunities.

Since 2020, Visa has invested +$2.2M in over 200 grants and coaching for women SMB owners through the She’s Next grant program globally including in US, Canada, India and Ireland.

Women business owners across UAE can join She’s Next and apply for funding and access peer networks and educational resources that help address the challenges revealed in a recent Visa study of women entrepreneurs. Key findings include:

  • A majority of women – 86% – said getting funding for their ventures had been a challenge with 76% using their personal savings to start their businesses. Seventy-three (73%) cited finding a business partner as a key challenge with three in five women concerned about the long-term success of their startups.
  • Four in 10 women (41%) admitted that gender stereotypes have negatively affected their work as an entrepreneur, with 76% saying they felt that societal approval or disapproval played a role in their choice of career or business.
  • Seven in 10 women said they currently accept both cash and cashless payments from their customers. More than half (51%) of women said they would use the additional funding to invest in new technologies, and for advertising and marketing.
  • Being financially independent ranked as the top motivation when starting a business followed by the desire to realize a dream, their ability to make use of their time and to be a leader and responsible for the results of their business.

The areas female entrepreneurs said they most wanted to learn more about were how to better set goals for profitability of their businesses, how to develop stronger strategies, and ways to survive the continuing impact of COVID-19. The She's Next initiative includes a series of mentoring programs that provide women entrepreneurs with access to practical insights from women leaders in the public and private sectors, as well as valuable tools and educational resources they need to grow and develop their businesses.

She’s Next, empowered by Visa, will also deliver significant networking opportunities in partnership with the Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC), a leading platform for personal and professional development for business women in the Emirate of Dubai.

Dr. Saeeda Jaffar, Senior Vice President and Group Country Manager for the GCC, Visa, commented: “Women who own and manage businesses face a unique set of challenges including access to capital and peer networks as well as societal pressures. That’s why we’re excited to help women business-owners across UAE today through the first She’s Next grant program and offer access to coaching and support through IFundWomen as well as that injection of USD10,000 in capital.  We are also honored to be partnering with FAB and DBWC, who will help us in our mission to not only empower women entrepreneurs, but also create for them a supportive environment in which they can grow and thrive."

Sara Al Binali, Group Head of Corporate, Commercial and International Banking at FAB, said: “Increasing women’s participation in business is an important social objective for FAB within our ESG strategy. Almost one-third of our own mid to senior managers were female as of 2021, and we are targeting 30 percent in senior management by 2025 and 40 percent by 2030.  Through She’s Next we reflect that commitment into the wider economy and our customer base. With this partnership we are working to understanding the barriers women face as entrepreneurs in our region, and giving them the resources, networks and knowledge to bring down those barriers and open a pathway to growing their business.”

In her comments, Nadine Halabi, Business Development Manager at Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC) highlighted, "Partnering with Visa and First Abu Dhabi Bank on such a distinctive initiative aligns with DBWC's mission to empower female entrepreneurs and support their business development and growth. As a result, the She's Next program offers specialized training and guidance as well as funding to the program's winners, which is the first step towards the progress and development of any business."

"DBWC is dedicated to enhancing women's business competitiveness and expanding their contributions to the national economy. Furthermore, the private sector's contribution to the launch of initiatives such as Visa's not only supports women's roles in the business community, but it is also regarded as a significant step toward supporting the economy," Halabi further added.

This new grant program builds on Visa’s commitment to digitally enable 50 million small businesses around the world to kickstart recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Through its Where You Shop Matters campaign in the UAE, Visa has encouraged consumers to support local businesses while helping SMEs to go digital to benefit from the surge in eCommerce while enhancing business efficiency.

As the trusted engine of commerce, Visa is also providing access to entrepreneurial knowledge and tools to unleash businesses in the digital era via Visa’s Practical Business Skills platform. The Visa She’s Next Grant Program will further support small businesses, with a particular focus on unlocking the potential of the most promising women entrepreneurs.

Women entrepreneurs in the UAE from all industries and sectors are invited to participate in the Visa She's Next Grant Program. The winner will receive one of five $10,000 grants, a one-year IFundWomen coaching membership, and access to resources such as the workshop library and community of entrepreneurs. Applications are open now through July 20, 2022. For more information and details click here.

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About Visa Inc.

Visa (NYSE: V) is a world leader in digital payments, facilitating transactions between consumers, merchants, financial institutions and government entities across more than 200 countries and territories. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, convenient, reliable and secure payments network, enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. We believe that economies that include everyone everywhere, uplift everyone everywhere and see access as foundational to the future of money movement. Learn more at About Visa, visamiddleeast.com/blog and @Visamiddleeast.

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Dhanya Issac | Danaisha Gulabani
E-mail: Dhanya.Issac@bcw-global.com, Danaisha.Gulabani@bcw-global.com