Visa and NBK launch inaugural 'She's Next' program to support women-owned businesses in Kuwait

  • Devadason: We are proud to partner with NBK to bring our global She's Next program for the first time to Kuwait.
  • Al-Awadhi: Through this partnership, we will empower women entrepreneurs with the tools and resources to thrive in today's digital economy.
  • Women business owners in Kuwait are invited to apply for a grant worth USD50,000, a tailored training program and access to She’s Next Club networking and mentoring opportunities. Applications are open until June 23, 2023.
  • As part of the initiative, Visa launches ‘Women SMB Digitalization Index’ in Kuwait:
    • Main challenges faced by women entrepreneurs implementing digitalization in their businesses include cybersecurity risks, digital compliance with regulations, and employee upskilling.
    • Top motivations for starting a business: Leadership (42%), Financial independence (32%) and Desire to make more money (29%).
    • 80% of women-led businesses accept digital payments.

Kuwait City, Kuwait, 22 May 2023: Visa, the world’s leader in digital payments, announced the launch of its global She’s Next initiative in Kuwait to empower women entrepreneurs in partnership with National Bank of Kuwait (NBK).

She’s Next, empowered by Visa, is a global advocacy program that aims to support women-owned small businesses through funding, training and mentorship. From today and until June 23, 2023, women entrepreneurs from all industries and sectors in Kuwait can apply to She's Next.

One winner will receive a grant of USD50,000, a tailored training program, and access to She’s Next Club resources such as a workshop library and community of entrepreneurs.

Ankush Devadason, Visa’s Head of Financial Institutions for Kuwait, said: “We're proud to partner with National Bank of Kuwait to bring our global She's Next initiative for the first time to Kuwait. Women entrepreneurs face unique challenges, including limited access to capital, heightened security concerns, and societal pressures, which are further compounded by the shift towards digitalization.”

She's Next is part of Visa’s efforts to support digitalization of women-owned businesses and features the launch of Visa’s first Women SMB Digitalization Index which measures digital maturity using 5 key indicators: online presence, digital payments acceptance, payment security awareness, customer engagement, and customer retention. For Kuwait, the index reveals women-owned businesses scored highest in digital marketing, online presence and customer retention.

Devadason added: “The Women SMB Digitalization Index underlines the critical importance of digital transformation of businesses and identifies opportunities for our She’s Next program in creating an ecosystem for the next generation of female entrepreneurs to achieve their business objectives. The She's Next initiative and partnership with NBK in Kuwait are essential components in bridging the gender gap in entrepreneurship and leveraging the power of technology to drive progress towards gender equality.”

Key findings include:

  • Challenges with running their businesses: Accepting digital payments was the top challenge (85% of respondents), and online sales development, finding business partners and competition (83%). 
  • Challenges with funding:  Nearly half of the women surveyed still have difficulty in raising capital, with more than 8 out of 10 tapping into their personal savings to start their business. Securing funds for digitalization was also stated as a challenge by nearly 49% of the respondents, owing to high cost associated with implementation of digital transformation initiatives, and the lack of investor understanding of its related benefits.
  • Additional funds, if available, would be invested in advertising and marketing (59%), opening of additional outlets/expanding presence (50%) and investment in new technology (49%).
  • Stereotypes: Only a third of female respondents in Kuwait said they faced stereotypes doing business.  Common stereotypes include being less tech-savvy (50%), more risk averse (47%), and less capable of scaling their business (47%).
  • Eighty percent of women-led businesses accept cards and 77% said online was their primary sales channel.

Ghadeer Al-Awadhi, Assistant General Manager – Consumer Banking Group at National Bank of Kuwait, commented: “We recognize the critical role that women entrepreneurs play in driving economic growth and innovation. With the rapid pace of digital transformation in our country, it is more important than ever to support the success of women-owned businesses. That is why National Bank of Kuwait is proud to partner with Visa for the inaugural edition of She's Next in Kuwait. Through this partnership, we will empower women entrepreneurs with the tools and resources they need to thrive in today's digital economy and beyond."

Since 2020, Visa has invested around $3M in over 250 grants and coaching for women SMB owners through the She’s Next grant program globally including in US, Canada, India, Ireland, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Morocco.

To learn more and apply for Visa She's Next Grant Program, applicants must submit a short application form with details about their business and digital presence.