Global payments technology company Visa announced today the launch of Visa Minority Depository Institutions Accelerate, a new multi-year program aimed at reducing economic disparities and expanding access and opportunity in communities of color across the US.

Under the new initiative, Visa will invest up to $100 million in Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) to help catalyze lending, and will also provide tailored insights and digital solutions to these banks to help them meet the needs of their clientele and communities.

The new initiative follows the appointment by Visa last year of Michelle Gethers-Clark as Chief Diversity Officer & Head of Corporate Responsibility. In addition to leading the company’s inclusion and diversity, social impact and sustainability efforts, Gethers-Clark’s role also includes overseeing Visa’s social impact efforts to drive equitable economic growth with a special focus on supporting small and micro businesses.

Gethers-Clark said:

“Visa acknowledges that economic disparities must be addressed through equitable access to financial resources. We want to do our part by working with MDIs and other associations tied to diverse communities. We believe MDIs play a critical role in improving economic outcomes and are proud that Visa MDI Accelerate will advance our shared goal of uplifting everyone everywhere.”

According to Visa, the new initiative comes as minority households, which already suffer from longstanding wealth disparities, have been further affected by the economic and health shocks emanating from the COVID-19 pandemic. The company noted the unique role played by MDIs in increasing access to financial services for underserved populations. Visa stated that by participating in the new program, “MDIs can be better equipped to serve their clientele and communities through increased financing, enhanced digital capabilities, and better insights and analysis.”

Nicole Elam, Executive Director of the National Bankers Community Alliance, said:

“Creating more equitable wealth distribution requires more inclusive opportunities for MDIs to uplift the communities they serve. We are pleased this multi-faceted program will enhance the lending capacity of MDIs as well as empower minority-owned and -operated banks with social and economic impact data to better serve their customers and communities.”