To address the transition of SMEs to digital platforms, Mastercard through the Center for Inclusive Growth has launched Strive, a global initiative focused on strengthening the financial resilience of small businesses.

Micro and small enterprises have been referred as important contributors to job creation and global economic development, representing approximately 90% of business and more than 50% of employment worldwide. However, the pandemic necessitated a rapid shift to digital platforms and processes that have created new opportunities but also pushed many to the brink of failure.

With an initial investment of Ksh. 2.8 billion ($25 million) from the Mastercard Impact Fund, Strive will help more than five million MSMEs around the world access the tools and resources they need to digitize.

Commenting on Strive, Michael Miebach, CEO of Mastercard said, “When small businesses thrive our local communities and economies thrive, but when they struggle, the impact is widespread. 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.”

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

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

“We are excited to partner with Mastercard to provide small businesses with the tools they need to reach their potential in a digital world,” said Chris Locke, founder of Caribou Digital.

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 MSMEs through personalized advisory services. These include data science-driven tools, and insights and digitization support.

On his part, John W.H. Denton, AO, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce commented, “Small businesses around the world continue to play a critical role in rebuilding a more inclusive and sustainable economy. Technology-driven, partner-led financial inclusion programs of the kind developed by Mastercard can help small businesses strengthen their operations and will propel them into this new digital-first era we now inhabit.”