Micro and small enterprises are important contributors to job creation and global economic development, representing approximately 90% of business and more than 50% of employment worldwide.
However, the ongoing pandemic necessitated a rapid shift to digital platforms and processes that have created new opportunities but also pushed many to the brink of failure.
To address the transition to digital, Mastercard – through the Centre for Inclusive Growth – has launched Strive, a global initiative focused on strengthening the financial resilience of small businesses and supporting their recovery and growth.
With an initial philanthropic investment of $25 million from the Mastercard Impact Fund, Strive will help more than five million micro and small businesses around the world access the tools and resources they need to digitize.
Mastercard says that the development is a data insights-led initiative.
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.
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.
Furthermore, with the support of Caribou Digital, a research and advisory firm focused on aiding the development of inclusive and ethical digital economies, the program will 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.
With a data insights first approach, Mastercard is responsibly 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.
Even prior to 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.
This announcement builds on Mastercard’s $250 million commitment to support small businesses’ financial security made last year.
Strive 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.
“When small businesses thrive our local communities and economies thrive, but when they struggle, the impact is widespread,” said Michael Miebach, CEO of Mastercard. “What small business owners need right now are partners who will listen to them and develop innovative solutions that will help them grow in the wake of the pandemic. It comes down to an investment in making their success our success. That’s what makes programs like Strive so critical today and tomorrow.”