With a goal of supporting more than 5 million micro and small businesses worldwide struggling to transition to digital, Mastercard — through the Center for Inclusive Growth — on Wednesday (Sept. 22) announced the debut of Strive, a worldwide effort focused on bolstering small businesses and aiding their recovery and growth. The effort will be funded with an initial benevolent contribution of $25 million from the Mastercard Impact Fund, according to the press release.
“This program builds on lessons learned and a body of work developed as part of Mastercard’s long-term focus on financial inclusion,” said Shamina Singh, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth president and founder. “By leading with an equity-intentional lens and partnership-driven approach, Strive will meet owners where they are and connect them to the resources they are telling us they need to succeed and grow over the long-term.”
Strive Community, the first of the outreach initiatives, will support more than 5 million small businesses across Europe, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia in using technology resources aimed at digitizing their operations, streamlining financial and back-office services and enhancing market access. Grants will be earmarked for organizations with expertise in working with micro and small business owners.
Mastercard is collaborating with regional FinTechs, social impact firms and charitable organizations to ensure the small businesses with the greatest need have access to tools that will streamline cash flow management, customer retention and digital progress. In Europe, Strive Community will, at the outset, partner with FinTechs to assist small businesses in Spain and France.
By 2025, Mastercard hopes to bring 1 billion people and 50 million micro and small businesses into the digital economy, according to the announcement.
The majority of small- to medium-sized businesses have recovered from the economic downturn stemming from the pandemic and are now outperforming other businesses, according to a recent PYMNTS report. In fact, mom-and-pop shops have gotten back to where they were in the first quarter of 2020, while the rest of the U.S. business sector is still struggling to get back to pre-pandemic levels.