Visa targets Kenyan SMEs in digital drive

The firm said this during the Jamhuri Day’s Tech Innovation Summit and meetings with President William Ruto

In Summary
  • She’s Next will be launched in Kenya in 2023 in partnership with financial institutions
  • Kenya has an estimated 7.4 million small businesses

Visa will work with Kenyan-based small and medium enterprises to promote the use of digital payments. 

The firm also plans to launch dedicated Kenya editions of its Visa Everywhere Initiative and She’s Next global fintech innovation and women’s empowerment programs over the next 12 months.

The firm made the commitments during the Jamhuri Day’s Tech Innovation Summit attended by President William Ruto, where it outlined a five-year plan to digitally enable small businesses in Kenya.

Visa’s She’s Next will be launched in Kenya in 2023 in partnership with financial institutions and will target women entrepreneurs to address the funding and operational gaps for their businesses.

Visa Everywhere Initiative (VEI) on other hand is a global innovation programme that tasks start-ups to compete to solve the commerce challenges of tomorrow, and pitch visionary solutions for Visa’s vast network of partners.

The programme also serves as a platform for entrepreneurs to showcase their products and gain the support they need to scale.

Since its launch in 2015, the programme has helped startups from over 100 countries collectively raise more than $2.5 billion (Sh306 billion) in funding, addressing one of the biggest challenges faced by early-stage entrepreneurs.

The expanded efforts follow the launch of Visa’s first pan-African Innovation Studio in Nairobi, Kenya in April 2022, which provides a state-of-the-art facility to co-create future-ready payment, commerce and money movement solutions.

Kenya has an estimated 7.4 million small businesses and Visa is targeting a fivefold increase in the number of Kenyan small businesses they will digitise in the next five years.

Even so, card payments continue to drop in the country, with the latest data from CBK showing that the value of transactions dropped by 3.8 per cent last year to Sh157.72 billion, down from 164.09 billion the previous year. 

Interestingly enough, the number of transactions went up by 4.5 per cent to 34.71 million. This is up by 1.49 million compared to last year.

"The reason for the decline in card payments' absolute value is attributed to the poor network of POS terminals and mobile payments being a substitute for card payments,'' CBK said CBK said in the Kenya National Payments System Vision and Strategy 2021-2025 strategy.

According to Visa's Vice President and head of Sub-Saharan Africa, Aida Diarra, the firm has seen how transformative digitisation initiatives have been for small businesses in Kenya and are looking forward to partnering to drive even further access to more financial services for these businesses where gaps still exist

“We are excited to be able to collaborate with the government and our partners to bring our global programs for startups to Kenya," Diarra said.

Visa has a long-standing commitment to enabling small businesses and more recently committed $200 million to support SMBs around the world over five years with a focus on fostering women’s economic advancement.

As part of this plan, Visa launched several local initiatives including a grant of $2.4 million to Hand in Hand, an NPO, for the execution of the Kenya Micro Enterprise Success programme (KMES).

To date, the programme has worked directly with 10,750 beneficiaries to improve their quality of life and financial resilience, against an original target of 10,200.

Overall, the programme has created 5,178 jobs against an initial target of 2,766, and enhanced 8,708 enterprises, with 86 per cent of them being women-owned.


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