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RIYADH: In a bid to support women-owned small businesses in Saudi Arabia, Visa has launched the second edition of its She’s Next initiative in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority, also known as Monsha’at, and Arab National Bank.

The global advocacy program is part of Visa’s efforts to support the digitalization of women-owned businesses. It also features the launch of its first digitalization index for women-owned small and medium-sized businesses, which measures digital maturity using five key indicators: online presence, digital payments acceptance, payment security awareness, customer engagement, and customer retention, said a press release.

“We’re proud to bring the second edition of our successful global She’s Next program back to Saudi Arabia. We are grateful to our partners for their support in bringing this important initiative to women-owned businesses in the Kingdom,” said Ali Bailoun, Visa’s regional general manager for KSA, Bahrain, and Oman.

Since 2020, Visa has invested around $3 million in over 250 grants and coaching for women entrepreneurs through the program globally including in the US, Canada, India, Ireland, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Morocco.

“Women entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia require additional funding and support in today’s business landscape. The Women SMB Digitalization Index is a central theme of this year’s She’s Next initiative, reinforcing the critical importance of this shift, and showcasing the progress made by local women-owned businesses in joining the digital economy,” Bailoun added.

According to a survey conducted by the digital payments company, seven in 10 female business owners relied on their savings to start their businesses.

“If additional funds were available, they would invest in staff expansion, new technologies, and increased security measures,” it found.

Commenting on the launch of the program, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology said: “We believe in the significant role of training and enablement for small businesses, particularly those owned by women. By providing resources and support for their growth, we can empower these entrepreneurs to not only succeed but to thrive in our economy. Visa’s commitment to this mission aligns with our own, and we are excited to work together towards a brighter future for small businesses in the region.”

The press release stated that women entrepreneurs from all industries and sectors in Saudi Arabia can apply to participate in the program until June 23. One winner will receive a grant of $50,000, a tailored program, and access to She’s Next Club resources such as a workshop library and community of entrepreneurs, it added.

Mohammed Alamro, general manager of entrepreneurship planning at Monsha’at, said: “Initiatives of this sort are propelling the next wave of innovative female entrepreneurs.”

Khalid Al-Rashed, head of retail at ANB, said that by collaborating with Visa the bank “acknowledges the critical role that small and medium-sized businesses play in driving the economic growth of the Kingdom.”


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