Visa’s Blog – Visa Viewpoints


Oct 28, 2013


Cherie Blair on New Mobile Financial Services Initiative for Women in Nigeria


This week I’m speaking at the Financial Inclusion 2020 Summit, an event that is promoting a global campaign to bring ordinary financial services – banking, credit cards, pensions, etc – to more than 2 billion people around the world who are currently excluded from these everyday services.

It’s an issue that is particularly important to me and my Foundation for Women, which promotes women entrepreneurs in the less developed parts of the world, and through which I’ve learned how hard it is for women to run a business without banking facilities. More than that, everyone needs financial services to manage their day-to-day lives and prepare for a better future. But very few in middle-income and especially low-income countries enjoy the access to quality services from formal financial service providers that many of us take for granted.

In wealthier countries, nearly 90% of the population have basic bank accounts. Most middle-class people are supported at every turn by financial services – such as credit cards for everyday purchases, mortgages to buy a home, quick and easy payment services, insurance or pensions. But in low and middle-income countries, the story is different.

More than 2.5 billion people lack access to quality financial services and at least half of that number will include women. If we want to make an impact on financial inclusion, that effort has to include women. Recent research findings from my own foundation, Visa, BFA and GSMA show that not only are women missing out on access to mobile financial services, they are also missing out on the retail opportunities related to these services.

In partnership with Visa, my foundation aims to address this gap, with a focus on Nigeria. Our project will result in 2,500 women becoming agents in the retail network of a leading financial services provider. As retail agents, they will bring branchless banking and mobile financial services to tens of thousands more women in Nigeria. Alongside the retail agent opportunities, the women involved will also benefit from training and capacity building support.

Our primary aim is to enable a greater number of women entrepreneurs to enter the electronic payment value chain in Nigeria – a sector that is set to grow tremendously in the coming months and years.

Why start in Nigeria? Women in Nigeria experience cultural, social and systemic barriers to entrepreneurship including poor infrastructure, lack of connectivity and other barriers. Three times as many men as women have the benefits of being registered as self-employed in the country, and while there are women entrepreneurs in Nigeria, the majority of them are forced to operate in the informal sector. This collaboration would offer opportunities for women to set up registered businesses in a growing sector.

There is a commercial opportunity as well. With only 30% of Nigeria’s population (84.7 million) using banking services and with more than 159 million mobile phone subscriptions, there is great potential for agent banking and other models which enable remote access to financial services in the country. This is as yet an untapped market representing a multi-million dollar industry.

This partnership is a significant step forward towards financial inclusion for women in Nigeria. Economically empowering women by giving them access to the same financial services as men,  is not only a smart way to raise the status of women and their quality of life but also brings benefits to the families and communities of the women who succeed. My foundation is looking forward to developing this project further and driving financial inclusion for women in Nigeria.


Posted by: Cherie Blair, Founder, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women on October 28, 2013 at 10:57 pm

Mar 20, 2013

Voices of Inclusion: Janie Barrera, Accion Texas

Visa continues our “Voices of Inclusion” series of conversations with leaders from the financial inclusion community. This week, Douglas Sabo, Visa’s Head of Corporate Responsibility, shares conversations with financial inclusion leaders recorded at the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas.  

First up, we speak with Janie Barrera, President and CEO of Accion Texas. Accion Texas is a partner in launching Kiva City Little Rock, the latest addition to the Kiva City initiative that expands the availability of microloans for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs in the United States. Barrera discusses the opportunity to expand access to financial resources and the impact this has on entrepreneurs.



Watch more videos in the “Voices of Inclusion” series.


Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on March 20, 2013 at 11:56 am

Feb 26, 2013

Voices of Inclusion: Cherie Blair

Broadcasting from the Mobile World Congress show floor, Visa’s Head of Corporate Responsibility, Douglas Sabo continues his conversations with thought leaders from the public, private and NGO sectors about the impact mobile services are having on financial inclusion efforts around the world. 

Next in the series of conversations is Cherie Blair, founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, wife of the former Prime Minister and global ambassador for women entrepreneurs:

Other videos in the “Voices of Inclusion” series:

Dr. Maura O’Neill, USAID

Chris Locke, GSMA Mobile for Development

Elizabeth Berthe, Mercy Corps


Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on February 26, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Jul 16, 2012

The Pressure of the Pitch

The concept of the elevator pitch is a familiar one in current business and pop culture. From ABC’s Shark Tank, to CBC’s Dragon’s Den, and HBO’s Mad Men, the idea of presenting a business idea to financers for a chance at the business big-time is something that many dream of, but few get a chance to actually do. 

Today, Visa Canada is giving eight talented Canadians the chance to do just that – pitch their small business idea in a sixty second elevator ride in the heart of Canada’s financial district. The hustle of the downtown core mixed with the pressure to sell an idea during a one-minute elevator ride is a recipe for excitement that we can’t wait to be part of!

The winner – to be announced within minutes of the live pitches – will receive a $10,000 credit on their Visa Business Card, which he or she can put towards helping their business succeed and grow. A Visa Business Card, available to entrepreneurs around the world, is an efficient way for small business owners to manage cash flow and track expenses.

The finalists were selected from entrants across Canada who submitted videos through the site – the finalists submissions are still up to watch and enjoy.

Three small business experts will be judging the final event:

•             Matthew Corrin, the founder and CEO of Freshii

•             Doug Burgoyne, the co-founder and president of FROGBOX Inc.

•             Stephane Paquet, the Editor and Chief and Assistant Publisher at Les Affaires

We wish all the finalists the best of luck today. Get ready, because the elevator doors are closing and you have sixty seconds…Go! (With Visa, of course!)


Posted by: Melissa Cassar, Visa Corporate Relations, Canada on July 16, 2012 at 8:15 am