An announcement at COP28 from Visa on December 8 confirmed that the company has been elected co-chair of the prestigious Grow Asia Business Council.
Grow Asia was established in 2015 by the World Economic Forum - in collaboration with ASEAN - to build market-driven solutions for sustainable food systems in Southeast Asia. Grow Asia Business Council is a high-level advisory body bringing together company leaders to develop a robust and market-driven approach, and to lead by example through investing in viable projects on the ground.
Visa will join the incumbent co-chair, East-West Seed, which stands among the world’s largest vegetable seed companies, serving 23 million small-hold farmers worldwide. As Grow Asia’s Business Council co-chair, and exclusive digital financial inclusion partner, Visa has supported the design and deployment of Grow Asia’s Public Private Impact Funds since 2022.
In the first year of its partnership with Grow Asia, Visa participated in more than 30 multi-stakeholder events across the region and co-contributed to the design and scaling-up of projects targeting small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and ran training in Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Cambodia.
Financial inclusion is the cornerstone of prosperity in Southeast Asia, where SMEs contribute to almost 45 per cent of the region's GDP. Despite the critical challenges posed by climate change and the availability of innovative scalable solutions, the region’s adoption of climate-resilient practices is hindered by economic and accessibility barriers. Digitalisation and financial inclusion of small-hold farmers and rural businesses can bridge this economic gap and build resilient livelihoods.
In its role as co-chair, Visa will enhance the knowledge and capacity of Grow Asia’s programmes, integrate digital financial solutions, promote financial inclusion for small-hold farmers, and address livelihood challenges across the region.
“This engagement marks a significant step forward in our mission to uplift everyone, everywhere, through digital financial inclusion,” said Dung Dang, country manager for Vietnam and Laos at Visa.
“Financial inclusion for small-hold farmers is at the heart of sustainable development in Vietnam, and by collaborating closely with Grow Asia and other members of its advisory councils, we aim to unlock new opportunities for digital finance that will drive climate resilience in the agri-food sector,” Dang added.
Visa’s commitment to leveraging digital financial inclusion to drive sustainable growth in Asia extends beyond its co-chair role, with significant strategic investments into Grow Asia's flagship impact funds. These funds include GrowVentures, which focuses on innovation in agriculture; GrowHer works for women’s economic empowerment; GrowRight promotes responsible investing; and GrowBeyond advises on climate change adaptation and resilience.
“We are pleased to welcome Visa as the incoming co-chair of our Business Council,” said Beverley Postma, executive director of Grow Asia. “Visa’s appointment is timely and significant as we confront the greatest challenge to climate transition in Asia – how to channel affordable finance to farmers. Visa's vast experience in digital finance will greatly contribute to our collective mission of empowering small-hold farmers, governments, and agri-food enterprises."
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