Small businesses play a vital role in local economies, providing jobs and, in the United States alone, contributing more than $8 trillion to the overall national economy. Nearly half of those small businesses are owned by women. They create employment for millions and generate trillions in sale, year in and year out.
Visa’s She’s Next program supports these women-owned small business all over the world, ensuring their role in a healthy economy. Intentionally designed to break down the universal barriers that stand in the way of success for women entrepreneurs, She’s Next provides critical funding and education in collaboration with the non-profit organization, IFundWomen.
Identifying the barriers
The She’s Next effort began with extensive research to define the hurdles women face that helped shape Visa’s approach to overcoming them. A study of 650 U.S. women business owners confirmed that funding is the number one challenge facing women today. In fact, 73% of those surveyed reported difficulty obtaining funds.2 More than 60% of those women funded their own businesses, with only 25% receiving funds from one or more investors.
Funding is critical, but so is guidance. Research shows 70% of businesses that take advantage of mentoring and coaching stay in business twice as long those who do not.
Women entrepreneurs have cited a range of challenges, including strategy development, finding proper tools, and addressing competition. In addition, many also struggle with managing growth, assembling teams, and keeping up with industry trends.
That’s why She’s Next also provides business coaching from experienced mentors who provide support and advice on strategy, resources, and more. It’s a powerful formula that builds confidence and empowers new business owners as they face a myriad of challenges, from honing a pitch to creating action plans to building a team and developing marketing plans.
Additional research shows these pillars — funding and education — are equally important, whether a woman is starting a beauty business in California or a transportation enterprise in India. Indeed, the challenges women face are universal.
Making a difference
To date, Visa She’s Next program has awarded 149 grants for a total of $1.6 million in funding for women owned businesses in the United States, the Baltics, the Middle East and Northern Africa, Scandinavia, and Vietnam. She’s Next has also conferred 158 coaching grants.
Wanona Satcher, founder of Makhers Studio in Atlanta, GA., is just one of many success stories. Wanona’s green design-build firm specializes in modular shipping containers that make affordable spaces for living, working, and serving community. After using IFW coaching and tools to raise $250,000 for her business, Winona was awarded a $10,000 grant to further bolster her business in 2020. That same year, she was recognized as one of Inc. magazine’s top 100 Female Founders of 2020.
More opportunity for more women
Upon recognizing a particular need to support women in the fashion and beauty industry, the Visa She’s Next program grew to include She’s Next in Fashion. This offshoot is a multi-year effort to provide funding, tools, and resources to women-owned small businesses with vision and drive in the fashion and beauty space.
In 2022, She’s Next in Fashion supported 50 women small business owners throughout the United States. Each received a $10,000 grant and one year of access to IFundWomen’s business coaches and resources, as well as marketing support and partnerships with social media influencers.
With women joining the entrepreneurial ranks at an impressive clip, the need for funding won’t dwindle anytime soon. Data shows 40 percent of new enterprises are run by women, compared to 25 percent for firms that are ten or more years old. As this important shift occurs, Visa looks forward to upholding our commitment to helping level the playing field for women in business and celebrating their many important contributions.
Learn more about Visa She’s Next and sign up for the latest program news on our website.