In honor of Women’s History Month, Visa has announced a new locally-focused joint program with Black Girl Ventures to help digitally enable Black and women-owned small businesses across the U.S.

The program — She’s Next — offers $10,000 grants and a one-year IFundWomen Annual Coaching Membership to 60 Black women-owned businesses. It aims to address the needs of local entrepreneurs who populate cities with the highest concentration of Black-owned businesses in America – including Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington, D.C., a press release shares.

The new slate of programming includes grants and mentorship, new educational and technology resources, as well as direct community relationships in partnership with Black Girl Ventures.

“Black Girl Ventures is proud to partner with Visa to assist these entrepreneurs and provide a megaphone to each community’s most pressing needs,” said Shelly Bell, founder of Black Girl Ventures, in a statement. “While the Black Lives Matter movement elevated consumer support of these businesses, the movement must continue to lift up these neighborhoods financially and spiritually.”

Many reports have shared that Black, people of color, and women-owned businesses have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, which is why Visa is making it a point to directly support these business owners in their time of need.

“With this hyperlocal focus on some of the hardest hit cities, Visa aims to make a meaningful difference, quickly, for the communities and their business owners who need it most,” said Kimberly Lawrence, head of U.S., Visa, in a statement. “Visa has elevated its longstanding commitment of underrepresented communities through an increased focus on financial and social capital and will provide updates on these local programs throughout the year.”

Black-owned businesses always played a critical role in communities nationwide, but according to Visa’s Black Women-Owned Business Report, nearly three quarters (71%) of Black-women owned U.S. businesses reported that they cannot survive another year under current pandemic conditions.

Visa’s new business effort will bring forth resources and expertise to offer tailored solutions for entrepreneurs from each city. Specifics of the program include:

      • The Visa She’s Next Grant Program: Visa is committing an additional $1 million to extend its grant contest and mentorship program to Black women entrepreneurs in six U.S. cities, with grant applications opening today, ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8.
      • Mainstream Marketing and Awareness: Through a multi-million dollar marketing campaign, Visa will encourage consumers to support Black and women entrepreneurs, in an effort to help drive business to small businesses. The six-city social, digital, OOH, mass transit and radio campaigns will run throughout 2021.
      • Local Experts and Resources: Through a new partnership with Black Girl Ventures, Visa will work with local organizations and influencers to reach small businesses, identify their most pressing technological needs and provide them with access to the products and education they need to help them thrive.

Back in 2020, Visa committed to digitally-enabling 50 million small businesses through partner offers, street team visits, virtual education seminars and mentorship opportunities, a press release reports.

This effort will not only provide these businesses with a bigger platform, but usher them into the digital future as e-commerce has seen a huge uptick from consumers in the last year.

For more information on Visa’s She’s Next initiative, click here.