The Visa Foundation has announced the commitment of two programmes totalling $210m to support small and micro businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The first programme of $10m will fund immediate emergency relief efforts to support charitable organisations on the frontlines of the pandemic. This includes health and food relief in North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the EMEA region.

Al Kelly, Visa CEO and Chairman, said: “As COVID-19 continues, communities are feeling the effects and need our immediate support. As a global company that operates a very local business, we recognise this need.

“We’re also committed to the long-term recovery. We will continue to explore ways we can accelerate economic activity to help individuals, businesses and economies thrive.”

$200m commitment to small businesses 

The second programme is a five-year, strategic $200m commitment to support small and micro businesses around the world. Its focus is on fostering women’s economic advancement.

Through the $200m programme, Visa will provide $60m in grants to NGOs dedicated to supporting small and micro business owners. The foundation will also allocate $140m with investment partners that generate positive social and financial returns for small and micro businesses.

Kelly added: “Now more than ever, we must accelerate our support for small businesses on the frontlines driving economic growth. As many small and micro business owners are women, there will be a ripple effect supporting women’s economic advancement. We believe this is one of the most important ways to achieve gender equality, reduce poverty and foster inclusive economic development.”

This comes as COVID-19 is expected to hit small business owners the hardest, causing financial struggle.

To date, small businesses account for 90% worldwide businesses. In addition, there is a $300bn annual credit deficit in funding for women-owned small and micro businesses. This is expected to grow due to COVID-19.

Graham Macmillan, President of the Visa Foundation, said: “Two hundred million dollars in new financial resources demonstrates our continuing commitment to support small and micro businesses, with a focus on women’s economic advancement globally.

“When women thrive, communities thrive. We know this matters now more than ever as the global economy seeks to recover and rebuild.”