Samhita-CGF, Mswipe, USAID, and Mastercard come together to digitize 100,000 micro-merchants across urban and rural India

December 2, 2021 | India

In line with the Government’s vision of Digital India, the initiative will enable MSMEs to adopt digital technologies as they recover from the impact of COVID-19, making them self-reliant and resilient to future crises

Mastercard announced a global-first strategic partnership with Samhita-Collective Good Foundation (Samhita-CGF), a social impact organization, and Mswipe, an end-to-end digital enabler for MSMEs, to bring 100,000 micro-merchants from the bottom of the pyramid into the digital economy. Under this partnership, Mastercard and Mswipe will join the REVIVE Alliance, a blended finance platform by Samhita-CGF, supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other funders, that supports informal workers and micro-enterprises whose livelihoods have been affected during the pandemic. This partnership supports the Government of India's agenda for public-private partnerships to accelerate inclusive economic growth. To date, the REVIVE Alliance has reached over 15,000 MSMEs.

Mastercard’s global experience, complemented by Mswipe and Samhita-CGF’s track record of executional excellence, will enable the REVIVE Alliance to combine a targeted digital payments incentive program with capacity building training to help micro-merchants kickstart their digital journey and drive permanent behavior change. As a result, these micro-merchants can cater to the changing consumer preference for digital payments, scale up their business, and develop a digital financial footprint, which they can use to seek formal credit from financial institutions. Powered by catalytic philanthropic funding, the REVIVE Alliance will enable Mswipe to onboard micro-merchants in Tier 2-6 cities that are often excluded by traditional payment service providers. 

“Micro-merchants are the lifeline of India. Even during the pandemic and lockdowns, they stayed open, providing households in their localities with essential goods with great risk to their safety and health. However, they face intense competition from larger, organized, and well-resourced players. This partnership will enable micro-merchants to build resilience, collaborate with modern commerce and thrive in the post COVID-19 era to ensure that local economies and livelihoods are strengthened and empowered,” said Priya Naik, Founder, Samhita-CGF.

The model is bank-agnostic and offers settlement via prepaid card for merchants without a bank account. Onboarded micro-merchants are embedded into Mswipe's existing ecosystem for product training, client engagement, and contact, ensuring consistent engagement with the micro-merchant, even after the program's conclusion. This approach ensures that there is an off-ramp for philanthropic funds, enabling commercially sustainable social impact and scale in the long-term. 

Ketan Patel, Mswipe, Chief Executive Officer said, “We are committed to expanding the digital payment infrastructure across micro, small and medium businesses in the country. While small and medium businesses have been fast adopters of digital acceptance solutions, micro businesses are still facing entry level barriers of ease, access and affordability and continue to be driven by cash-based transactions. With this partnership, we want to solve the infrastructure challenges, offer convenience, and create a secure and convenient way to bring new businesses and digital micro-merchants, especially from Tier 2-6 towns, into the digital ecosystem.” 

Commenting on this partnership, Nikhil Sahni, Division President, South Asia, Mastercard, said, "Despite tremendous potential, many small business owners remain disconnected from the vital networks and resources they need to thrive in today’s economy. At Mastercard, we are committed towards their inclusion into the formal economy and are applying our network, knowledge, technology, and partnerships towards building a Digitally Inclusive Bharat. Through this partnership with Samhita-CGF and Mswipe, Mastercard aims to reach the grassroots, enabling digitization of underserved MSMEs and their business continuity and growth. Mastercard is confident that the shared objectives of all the partners will go a long way towards fostering sustainable livelihoods for MSMEs." 

The partnership reinforces the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth’s recent launch of a new global initiative called Strive, designed to support the resilience and growth of millions of small businesses in an increasingly digital economy. The first program to be launched under the new initiative is Strive Community, developed by the Center in partnership with Caribou Digital. Strive Community will equip five million small business owners with innovative digital solutions that unleash their potential as catalysts of inclusive growth. The program will bring together expertise, capabilities, and networks from across business, technology, government, and global development sectors to employ a digital and data insights-first approach that enables small businesses to optimize operations, access and use financial services, and grow their market participation.

These efforts are a reaffirmation of the company’s worldwide commitment to financial inclusion by pledging to bring a total of 1 billion people and 50 million micro and small businesses into the digital economy by 2025, with a direct focus on providing 25 million women entrepreneurs with solutions that can help them grow their businesses. In 2020, Mastercard pledged $250 Million to support small businesses globally.