Visa empowers small businesses for a digital business recovery
By Mamadou Biteye, Vice-President Global Social Impact, Visa
Standfirst: Visa launches Practical Business Skills, a free resource to help small businesses join the digital economy and grow for the future.
Around the globe, the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccination programs is raising hope that we can finally move on from the disruption of last year and get businesses back on track. But there is still a long way to go for full economic recovery - for small and micro businesses, lacking the resources and funding of larger enterprises, COVID-19 has been particularly difficult to manage. Many SMBs have not survived the pandemic, struggling to evolve their business to meet the digital-first approach that consumers are demanding. It is vital for the overall health of our economies that SMBs recover. SMBs account for more than 90% of global businesses, and more than half of global employment, and in a typical developing nation SMBs contribute 60% or more of GDP. Their contribution to local jobs and local economies is an essential part of creating a robust, resilient return to economic growth.
From launching online stores and delivery services to reaching customers in lockdown, to accepting contactless payments in store to meet distancing guidelines, digital has been an essential component in enabling companies to stay in the game. While some have found that digital has empowered their business in ways they never imagined, such as helping them to reach new markets, create new services and build stronger bonds with their customers, other have been left behind. Not only have SMBs been challenged by the ever-changing payments landscape, but they have also had to compete with other obstacles such as lack of access to credit, training and essential management tools, that have hindered their move to online even further.
It is clear that we have to revitalize the SMB sector, and at Visa, we believe that the best way to do that is by supporting SMBs to grow and thrive through digital business. Regardless of whether a small business has already embraced digital or isn’t sure where to begin, we want to help them on their journey so they have the skills to manage this transformation quickly and successfully. To that end, we have launched Practical Business Skills, a new initiative that aims to empower SMB-owners and entrepreneurs with knowledge, skills and access to networks and financial services that can improve their businesses and their economic livelihoods. This free, online education platform will provide the resources that owners need to make informed decisions on how to start and grow their businesses through expanded digital transformation.
Visa intends Practical Business Skills to offer a one-stop shop for business owners to get information and advice that will support them in starting a business, with tools to understand and evaluate the process involved in opening, financing, running and marketing a company; managing a business, through day-to-day management processes such as conducting finance analysis, predicting cash flows and promoting sales; and how to build and grow the business, with advice and tactics to drive businesses into more profitable, long-term success. We are also working with our local partners around the world, to ensure that Practical Business Skills is able to get to the right audience in the best format, customized and tailored to local markets.
One of the most important aspects of Practical Business Skills is that Visa has created the initiative specifically with SMBs in mind, with a focus on practical advice that can be implemented by small companies without the need for huge budgets or specialized resources. Practical Business Skills also supports business owners beyond the curve of COVID-19 and digital business recovery, arming them with core skills to make their business more resilient and adaptive to change in the future. We have used our experience in reaching over 40 million people worldwide through our Practical Money Skills initiative, a program of financial education and inclusion skills, to ensure that Practical Business Skills follows the same principles of being accessible and easy to understand, and imparts real-world knowledge and advice.
The series will include fifty concise videos which are organized into specific learning tracks, to demonstrate a small businesses’ journey through key topics, including managing, organizing, digitizing, protecting, and growing a business, making it easy for business owners to find the information they are looking for to tackle the challenges they face, at their own convenience. The courses and content are available in Arabic, English, French and Spanish, and we plan on adding more languages in future.
To complement the educational content, the Practical Business Skills website includes access to helpful tools for SMBs, such as calculators for common financial situations, and infographics to explore key topics.
Visa’s local and international partner organizations are participating in the initiative to create additional areas of support. For example, we are working with an African mobile network operator to deliver financial education to SMBs using mobile money; a leading Fintech in Singapore is integrating Practical Business Skills into its own SMB blog and YouTube channel, and a cross-border trade association is helping corporations to connect with SMBs.
Practical Business Skills is the latest initiative from Visa to empower SMBs and local communities. Last year we announced plans to digitally-enable 50 million small businesses worldwide, to help them get back-to-business and create resiliency and growth, and to participate in the digital economy. With Practical Business Skills, Visa is once again committed to providing the resources and knowledge that will empower inclusive, sustainable and equitable economic growth for small and micro businesses everywhere.
The Practical Business Skills website is available in English, Arabic and French. Click here to visit : practicalbusinessskills.org