This past Sunday (8th March) was International Women’s Day, which means a greater number of organisations are looking at ways that they can assist female entrepreneurs do more for their own businesses, and their economies too.

One such organisation is Visa, which recently announced two initiatives alongside a study (titled African Women Entrepreneurs) looking at some of the issues facing female entrepreneurs in South Africa and the continent.

The two initiatives take the form pf partnerships with Hand In Hand International and IFundWomen, both of which are focused on the economic empowerment of women.

Visa is launching a $2.4 million, three-year partnership with Hand in Hand International, which will see the latter assist in providing business education and broadened financial services in the region, and 10 000 micro businesses in Kenya in particular.

As for IFundWomen, it will see Visa join them in funding an education platform that provides access to capital through grants and crowdfunding, expert business coaching and a network of women business owners on the continent.

Both of these partnerships will no doubt assist in meeting some of the challenges outlined in the aforementioned study, with the most significant finding being that 90 percent of local female entrepreneurs view inadequate access to funding as their biggest hurdle when trying to grow their business in other parts of Africa.

Visa also explains that research revealed that women acknowledge the role of electronic payments in business success, with some confiding that customers spend more when they have access to electronic payments as opposed to cash.

“Closing the gender gap requires persistence, hard work and support. Visa’s She’s Next initiative in Africa seeks to encourage female micro and small business owners to fund, run and grow their own businesses,” notes Aida Diarra, SVP and group country manager for Sub-Saharan Africa.

“The number of women entrepreneurs is growing with 163 million starting businesses since 2014 alone. The highest percentages of these women are in Africa and it is for this reason that we are investing in women owned and lead businesses on the continent,” adds Diarra.

It’s pleasing to see more of these kinds of partnerships happening locally and across Africa. The hope now is that it does not take an upcoming or recently passed International Women’s Day in order for more initiatives like this to come to the fore.

[Image – Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash]