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Ensuring Digital Equity

Main Stage

Programming Sponsor: Visa

Media Partner: Yahoo! Finance




  • Demetrios Marantis shared that Visa defines digital equity as ensuring that all businesses and individuals are able to reap the benefits of digital platforms. COVID-19 has vastly exacerbated digital inequities: businesses that are digitally enabled are poised to weather the pandemic-induced economic hit, while businesses that lack a digital presence—disproportionately small businesses—are at risk of falling behind. 

“The bottom line is that businesses need access to the Internet. They need access to e-commerce. They need digital platforms in order to be able to recover from COVID-19,” Demetrios Marantis

  • Visa has been using the power of its network to advance digital equity and spur small business recovery. The company is helping 50 million small and micro businesses garner an online presence and take advantage of the benefits of e-commerce. It has created “small business hubs” replete with online resources tailored to small businesses. In 15 markets across the globe, Visa has deployed street teams that go from store to store to provide one-on-one digital training to small merchants. It has launched the Visa Economic Empowerment Institute, which applies a social and racial justice lens to small business recovery. Finally, the Visa Foundation has committed $210 million to help mostly women-owned businesses recover from COVID-19.
  • According to Mark Isakovitz, Google has also been at the forefront of supporting digital equity and small business recovery. The company has committed $800 million in grants to small businesses to help them cope with the challenges of COVID-19. Many of these grants have come in the form of advertising credits, enabling small businesses to publicize any changes in their hours or operations. Moreover, Google’s flagship professional development program, Grow with Google, has been made available online. Particularly notable is Grow with Google’s IT Support Certificate Training Program, which teaches aspiring professionals the digital skills that are highly coveted in today’s job market.

“At the onset of the pandemic, our first priority was to make sure people had access to good information about where [they could] go and what [they could] do,” Mark Isakovitz

  • Both Visa and Google fervently believe in the power of partnerships. Visa has joined forces with Hand in Hand International to provide women-owned businesses in Kenya with the tools they need to commence, run, and grow operations. Google has partnered with a range of health authorities to ensure that individuals have access to accurate information online on COVID-19 screening and testing.


Key takeaways & next steps:

    • The trend toward data localization is particularly concerning: data localization hampers digital trade and, in turn, the capacity of small businesses to participate in e-commerce. Governments need to lift barriers to cross-border data flows. 


  • We must put urgency behind supporting small businesses: according to a Goldman Sachs study, nine out of ten small businesses will soon exhaust their Paycheck Protection Program funds.



Session Speakers