Visa and Commercial International Bank launch Global “She’s Next” Grant Competition in Egypt to Empower Female Entrepreneurs

  • Egypt’s women business owners are invited to apply for a grant worth total of USD 30,000, a tailored training program and access to She’s Next Club networking and mentoring opportunities. Applications are open until October 26
  • As part of the initiative, Visa and CIB conducted a survey revealing significant findings:
    • Funding is a challenge for Egypt’s women-led businesses, with 77% dipping into personal savings
    • 97% of women entrepreneurs have plans to digitalize their business
    • 95% of women-led businesses are interested in payment related training
    • Leveraging digitalization to transition to a cashless business is a huge opportunity for 68% women entrepreneurs

Cairo, Egypt, October 2, 2023: Women-led businesses in Egypt are faced with challenges when it comes to funding, digitalization and seeking advisory, according to a survey of women entrepreneurs, by Visa, the world’s leader in digital payments.

The survey follows Visa’s endeavor to empower women entrepreneurs in the country by bringing its global She’s Next grant program to Egypt for the third time, in partnership with Commercial International Bank Egypt (CIB).

She’s Next, empowered by Visa, is a global advocacy program that aims to support women-owned small businesses through funding, training, and mentorship. Until October 26, women entrepreneurs from all industries and sectors in Egypt can apply to She's Next for a chance to be one of three winners to receive a grant of USD 10,000 each, in addition to the monetary prize, five finalists will receive a one year mentorship program and the top twenty applicants will receive one year capacity building program from the USAID. 

She’s Next finds relevance in Egypt, where women entrepreneurs are challenged with finding a support system and a role model/mentor to help them grow their business. 

Malak El Baba, Country Manager for Egypt, Visa, commented: “We're proud to bring our successful ‘She's Next’ global program to Egypt, in partnership with Commercial International Bank. Women entrepreneurs face unique challenges such as limited access to capital, lack of mentorship and dealing with gender stereotyping concerns where they are considered less capable of handling high-pressure situations. Access to these factors along with a robust digital infrastructure is critical for women entrepreneurs to flourish and scale up their businesses. She’s Next underscores this vital digitalization shift, embraces the potential of women entrepreneurs, and enables them to thrive with support and innovation.”

Hany El Dieb, Head of SME Business at CIB said: “Through our partnership with Visa, the She’s Next initiative is unlocking the potential of female entrepreneurs, and is already supporting capable, ambitious women in achieving their goals. We are very proud of the initiative which falls in line with CIB strategy to support small- and medium-sized enterprises and empowering talented women entrepreneurs to take their businesses to the next level and creating new opportunities across our community through a tailored financial and non- financial services”

The survey of women entrepreneurs in Egypt revealed key aspects of their entrepreneurial journey, and identified themes that would drive empowerment. These themes are as follows:

A Challenging Business Environment

Women in Egypt are keen on beginning their business, citing owning their time (31%) and financial independence (30%) as top motivations. However, these entrepreneurs state funding is a serious challenge while running their businesses. Visa’s survey finds that 77% of women dip into their personal savings to fund their business, while 45% respondents rely on friends and family

Advice from fellow entrepreneurs

Female entrepreneurs in Egypt are eager to learn from their peers, according to Visa’s survey. Nearly 99% respondents stated that they need advice, with many women entrepreneurs wanting specific assistance on overcoming problems while running their business (50%), developing online sales (47%), and building a team of employees (33%)

The Visa survey also found businesswomen are excited about building online sales, with 95% women wanting payment related training. A section of women (44%) seek advice on the types of payments accepted from customers, while more common topics for workshops included business development through digital marketing (29%), inspiring women to be confident (27%), and promoting business through social media (27%).

Digitalization, an opportunity to grow

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. The Index scores businesses based on 5 indicators: online presence, digital payments, payment security, customer engagement, and customer retention. 

As a historically cash dominant market, the survey found that 7 in 10 women entrepreneurs claim to be digitally savvy, with 97% respondents having plans to digitalize their business focusing on AI and automation, digital marketing, analytics tools to generate insights, training leadership, and software implementation. The survey also found that women entrepreneurs wanted to leverage digitalization to transition to a cashless business, as over one-third respondents (35%) found it challenging to secure funding for digitalization

Being familiar with the cyber threat landscape, 76% women entrepreneurs use both cash and cashless modes of payment, with digital payments taking precedence over cash in online and offline selling platforms. 

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, Saudi Arabia, UAE, 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.

About Commercial International Bank S.A.E.

Established in 1975, Commercial International Bank (CIB) is Egypt’s leading private-sector bank. Each of CIB’s 6,500 employees is dedicated to achieving the Bank’s mission: delivering a distinctive customer experience through innovation and big data analytics to provide customer-centric solutions and services that meet their needs. With a well-established network of over 200 branches, first-rate remote channels, and digital solutions, CIB provides individuals, households, high-net-worth individuals, large corporations, or small businesses with exceptional, 24-7 services. 

CIB has consistently been recognized as the most profitable bank operating in Egypt and the bank of choice for over 500 of Egypt’s largest corporations. CIB was named the World’s Best Bank in Emerging Markets by Global Finance in 2018 and 2020, and it was awarded the same title by Euromoney in 2017. CIB is also the first institution in the Middle East to be the subject of a business case study as part of the London Business School’s curriculum for graduate students. In 2021, Bloomberg included CIB in its “Gender Equality Index”, making it the first company in Egypt and Africa to be listed on the index, which includes 380 companies from 44 countries representing 11 sectors.

For further information about CIB products and services, please visit

About Visa Inc.

Visa (NYSE: V) is a world leader in digital payments, facilitating transactions between consumers, merchants, financial institutions, and government entities across more than 200 countries and territories. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, convenient, reliable and secure payments network, enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. We believe that economies that include everyone everywhere, uplift everyone everywhere and see access as foundational to the future of money movement. Learn more About Visa, and @VisaCEMEA


Media Contact:

Eman ElGamal 
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