Visa, designer Rebecca Minkoff launch small-biz women networking program

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NEW YORK — Visa is working with handbag designer Rebecca Minkoff to debut a global program to fuel networking among women business owners, while also connecting them to companies in the Visa ecosystem such as Square and Yelp.

The "She's Next" initiative, unveiled Monday at an event in New York, launches in partnership with the Female Founder Collective, founded by Minkoff. It will feature workshops scheduled around key events, such as the Super Bowl in Atlanta and the the FIFA Women's World Cup in France in 2019. The Atlanta event will take place Jan. 30, a few days ahead of the Super Bowl, in partnership with SunTrust.

"Just by bringing all these women together in one place will provide a networking opportunity, and then over time … partnership with Rebecca Minkoff's Female Founder Collective will bring mentorship opportunities naturally," said David Simon, Visa's senior vice president and global head of small business and medium enterprises, in an interview at the New York event.

Visa is working with the Female Founder Collective to "enhance something that's already in existence" rather than start this program from scratch, Simon said. The workshops will discuss topics such as access to capital and work-life balance, he said.

The initiative takes a different approach from the technology-based efforts Visa and its peers have engaged in, such as hackathons, but Simon said Visa hasn't ruled out such programs as part of She's Next.

"It supports our broader small business goals" for issuing, merchant acceptance and payment disbursement, Simon said. "This is one of our key tenets to broader advocacy."

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