Mastercard Unveils ‘Strive’ to Help MSMEs Digitize operations

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  • Mastercard Impact Fund has committed a initial philanthropic investment of $25 million 
  • The company said small business owners are currently in need of innovative solutions
  • It builds on Mastercard’s $250 million commitment to support small businesses’ financial security made last year

Mastercard, through the Center for Inclusive Growth, has launched a new program dubbed ‘Strive’, to strengthen the financial resilience of small businesses as well as support their recovery and growth.

In a statement, the company said the initiative, which is global, will help micro and small enterprises transition to using digital platforms and processes.

The technology company said the launch of the initiative comes at a time when there has been a rapid shift towards digital services, which was necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.

An initial philanthropic investment of $25 million from the Mastercard Impact Fund has been committed to the initiative whose aim is to help more than five million micro and small businesses around the world access the tools and resources they need to digitize.

Commenting on the initiative, Michael Miebach, CEO of Mastercard said small business owners are currently in need of innovative solutions that will help them grow in the wake of the pandemic.

“When small businesses thrive our local communities and economies thrive, but when they struggle, the impact is widespread,” Miebach said.

As part of the Strive initiative, global platforms will combine with localized programs to address and respond to the unique challenges and opportunities of the most vulnerable small business populations in regions across the world.

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Partnerships

Strive Community – the first of these programs – will impact more than five million small businesses across Europe, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Mastercard said it has partnered with Caribou Digital, a research and advisory firm focused on aiding the development of inclusive and ethical digital economies.

Through the partnership, the program is expected to help small businesses utilize technology resources that will digitize their operations, streamline financial and back-office services and improve market access to ensure they succeed in our modern economy.

Grants will be allocated to organizations that are experienced in working with micro and small business owners.

Chris Locke, founder of Caribou Digital said the deal will provide small businesses with the tools they need to reach their potential in a digital world.

“By partnering with a wide range of interconnected organizations, the program will deliver valuable resources for digitization and foster further innovation, while enabling us to drive impact at scale,” he said.

With a data insights first approach, Mastercard said it will be working with regional fintechs, social impact firms and non-profit organizations to ensure the most vulnerable small businesses have access to secure tools and resources that will simplify their ability to manage cash flow, gain and retain customers and prosper digitally.

In Europe for instance, Strive Community will initially partner with fintechs to support small businesses in Spain and France.

Strive will help more than five million micro and small businesses around the world access the tools and resources they need to digitize – The Exchange

Supporting the Most Vulnerable Businesses with a Local Market Focus

Strive UK, the second program launched as part of the Strive initiative, aims to bolster the financial resilience and unlock the growth of 650,000 U.K. micro and small enterprises through personalized advisory services, data science-driven tools, and insights and digitization support.

Working together with local small business focused NGOs including Enterprise Nation, Digital Boost and Be the Business, while complementing UK government efforts such as Help to Grow, Strive UK will focus on providing dedicated resources to the most vulnerable small businesses including those that are women and minority owned.

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Small Business Growth

Even before the pandemic, small businesses were falling behind their larger competitors in integrating digital technologies in the way they do business. A European Union survey in 2019 found that roughly 80 percent of large businesses had implemented at least one digital technology versus only 30 percent of micro businesses.

The launch builds on Mastercard’s $250 million commitment to support small businesses’ financial security made last year.

It also extends Mastercard’s longstanding commitment to financial inclusion, with efforts underway to bring in a total of one billion people and 50 million micro and small businesses with a focus on 25 million female entrepreneurs into the digital economy by 2025.

Matthew Gamser CEO, SME Finance Forum: “If we hadn’t seen clearly before that managing the transition from paper to digital money, from paper to digital contracts, and from physical to digital business is critical to the future of small businesses worldwide, COVID made sure this was right in front of our faces everywhere. That’s why I’m so excited to welcome the launch of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth’s Strive Community program, which will help small but dynamic businesses to navigate these changes.  I expect Strive to find new, lower cost, more scalable ways to support SME digitalization and growth.”

Wanjiku Njuguna is a Kenyan-based business reporter with experience of more than eight years.

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