Visa and Al Rajhi Bank push to empower female entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia

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Digital payments giant Visa and Saudi Islamic bank Al Rajhi Bank are pushing to empower women in Saudi Arabia by offering financial support to female entrepreneurs.

In an interview with Al Arabiya English, Visa’s Regional General Manager for the GCC Cluster (including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman), Ali Bailoun weighed in on what the initiative has accomplished so far since it was launched in the Kingdom for the first time at the end of June.

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Bailoun said the initiative was launched to “support the Saudi government’s ongoing efforts to economically elevate women entrepreneurs across the country,” in partnership Al Rajhi Bank.

“The ‘She’s Next’ initiative offers female business owners in the Kingdom a unique opportunity to apply for one of five $10,000 grants and receive a year of coaching from IFundWomen, as well as networking and mentoring opportunities to build, fund and grow their ventures,” Bailoun said.

According to Visa’s 2022 survey on women entrepreneurs, 82 percent of women surveyed in the Kingdom said their current business venture was their first, indicating their growing confidence in the government’s efforts to empower women and foster a more inclusive business environment.

“Visa is committed to fostering an environment that enables all women to thrive and challenge the status quo. And with the launch of ‘She’s Next’ in Saudi Arabia, we want to address the disproportionate barriers faced by women entrepreneurs and provide them with the right learning opportunities, how to set better goals for their businesses’ profitability, how to develop stronger strategies, and how to survive the lingering effects of COVID-19,” he added.

Female business owners across Saudi Arabia 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.

Saudi female entrepreneurs who took part in Visa’s survey said that they mainly struggled to find the right tools and platforms that support business development and management, to create a good team of employees, and to stand out against the competition.

“Bringing ‘She’s Next’ program to Saudi Arabia builds on Visa’s commitment to digitally enable 50 million small businesses around the world to kickstart recovery from the COVID 19 pandemic,” he said.

Visa’s ‘Where You Shop Matters’ campaign in Saudi Arabia has encouraged consumers to support local businesses while helping SMBs to go digital to benefit from the surge in ecommerce while enhancing business efficiency.

Since 2020, Visa has invested more than $2.2 million globally in over 200 grants and coaching for female small and medium business (SMB) owners through the initiative, including in Canada, India, the US, and Ireland.

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