Visa teams with Girl Starter to encourage female entrepreneurs to participate in its Everywhere Initiative

Visa's Everywhere Initiative is encouraging female participants.

Payments technology company Visa is jumping on what has become something of an International Women’s Day bandwagon by announcing its third annual Everywhere Initiative today (March 8).

It will focus on female entrepreneurship in particular, as well as its sponsorship of Girl Starter, a technology company it says provides platforms to amplify girls in entrepreneurship and business leadership.

In a release, Visa said it is helping “shine a light on women in technology by inviting women entrepreneurs to participate in the 2017 Everywhere Initiative” and by sponsoring an upcoming episode of the TLC series, also called Girl Starter, or what Executive Producer Jeanette Milio called “Shark Tank for Girls”.

Visa’s Everywhere Initiative first launched in the US in 2015 and has since included nearly 1,000 startups, which Visa said have collectively raised $1.7 billion.

According to the website, Visa will once again present three real-life business challenges for startups to solve as they vie for an opportunity to collaborate with Visa on innovative modes of payment. Challenge questions will be shared on March 11 when submissions open.

However, the release added the focus this year is on the industry’s shift from plastic to digital and new entrants joining traditional stakeholders. As such, the announcement said challenges will include; how a company can use connected devices to facilitate more seamless commerce experiences for consumers and how Visa APIs can augment a company’s product or service offerings and ultimately drive more meaningful commerce, or finance-related experiences. It will also include challenges on how a company can harness Visa capabilities and other third party services to create transformative commerce experiences at sporting events, transportation hubs and other venues where people congregate.

“Visa is committed to partnering with startups and other non-traditional stakeholders to create the future of payments together leveraging Visa APIs from the Visa Developer Center,” said Shiv Singh, senior vice president of innovation and strategic partnerships. “This year, Visa’s Everywhere Initiative is doubling down on female entrepreneurship in an effort to cultivate new relationships and celebrate great ideas from emerging talent in the startup community.”

Visa will kick off the 2017 Everywhere Initiative in North America with a live pitch competition on March 11 at Visa’s Everywhere Lounge at SXSW. Visa said five women-led startups – BeautyLynk, CNote, Loop and Tie, Soko and Traveling Spoon – will pitch ideas that leverage Visa APIs to help merchants grow their businesses.

The competition will be judged by Visa executives, as well as cast members of TLC’s Girl Starter and Ingrid Vanderveldt, chairman and CEO of Empowering a Billion Women by 2020, an organization that says it combines mentorship, training, products and services to “current and future female entrepreneurs, which will create an 11x impact that allows them to build businesses of sustained value and create the economic [and] social progress the world desires.”

Visa said the winner will receive $25,000 and the opportunity to run a pilot with Visa.

“The sponsorship of Girl Starter continues to move the needle on our commitment to empowering women in the workplace,” said Visa CMO Lynne Biggar in a statement. “At the same time, it allows us to bring even more startup-led innovation into the fold at Visa, ultimately creating better business solutions for all of our clients and partners.”

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