Mastercard has introduced a campaign, with an initial commitment of $25 million, to boost the financial resilience and growth of businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic globally.
The initiative, called Strive, is aimed at helping more than five million micro and small businesses across Europe, Latin America, Africa, Middle East and Asia, access the tools and resources they need to adopt digital technologies in the post-pandemic era, the company said.
“When small businesses thrive our local communities and economies thrive, but when they struggle, the impact is widespread,” Michael Miebach, Mastercard’s chief executive, said.
“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,” said Mr Miebach.
Strive builds on Mastercard’s $250m commitment to support small businesses’ financial security made last year.
Micro and small businesses are key contributors to job creation and global economic development. They represent nearly 90 per cent of businesses and more than 50 per cent of employment worldwide.
The pandemic necessitated a shift to digital platforms and processes that have created new opportunities but also pushed many to the brink of failure.
The International Monetary Fund expects the global economy to expand by 6 per cent in 2021 after it tipped into a deep recession last year. The volume of world merchandise trade, which slumped 5.3 per cent in 2020, is expected to grow 8 per cent in 2021, according to the World Trade Organisation estimates.
“To address the transition to digital … Strive focused on strengthening the financial resilience of small businesses and supporting their recovery and growth,” the New York-based financial technology company said.
Under the Strive initiative, global platforms will join forces with local programmes to address the challenges of the most vulnerable small business populations in regions around the world.
With the support of Caribou Digital, the programme will help businesses to use technology resources that will digitise their operations, streamline financial and back-office services, and improve market access.
“By partnering with a wide range of interconnected organisations, the programme will deliver valuable resources for digitisation and foster further innovation, while enabling us to drive impact at scale,” said Chris Locke, founder of the Farnham, UK-based Caribou Digital, a research firm focused on aiding the development of inclusive digital economies.