Mastercard and CARE International in Pakistan unite women entrepreneurs for Strive Women launch

March 5, 2024 | Islamabad, Pakistan

New program will focus on women as it aims to reach 1.5 million entrepreneurs in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, March 5, 2024 — To coincide with International Women’s Day, Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth and CARE International in Pakistan are announcing the launch of Mastercard Strive Women — a new program that aims to strengthen the financial health and resilience of small businesses in Pakistan with a focus on those led by women.

Strive Women, a global initiative that will run in Pakistan, Peru and Vietnam, recognizes that women-led small businesses are critical contributors to economies, communities and households worldwide. The program will focus on strengthening the financial health of small businesses by working with local partners in each market to deliver tailored financial products and support services while addressing unique gender barriers that women-led businesses face.

In Pakistan, the initiative aims to reach 1.5 million entrepreneurs through campaigns while directly supporting over 100,000 entrepreneurs — the majority being women — to grow their businesses and increase their economic potential.

Held at The Marriott Hotel, Islamabad, the launch event for the Strive Women program brought together key influencers from government, the financial sector and business to discuss how they can build an ecosystem to better support women entrepreneurs in Pakistan.

Strive Women builds on the success of the Ignite program, funded by the Mastercard Impact Fund, which unlocked USD 49.6 million in loans in Pakistan and directly supported 50,932 Pakistani entrepreneurs (35% women). Following the program, 90% of the participants increased their sales, and 93% reported higher confidence in running their businesses.

“Mastercard has been powering the economy and empowering the people of Pakistan for more than two decades. We are proud to play our role in shaping the country’s ambitious digital future, driving financial inclusion and fueling its economy. We are also committed to empowering women-led businesses to launch, scale, and grow. The Strive Women program is an integral part of this commitment, closely aligning with Pakistan’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy. We are excited to build on the success of the Ignite program as we enter this next chapter in our journey with CARE International,” said J.K. Khalil, Cluster General Manager, MENA East, Mastercard.

“Since launching Strive Women last year with CARE, we have seen how program participants have been able to pay it forward and scale their businesses, which helps their communities thrive,” said Shamina Singh, Founder and President of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. “We are excited to go deeper with the program, and find ways to create even more opportunities for women entrepreneurs.”

“We are thrilled to embark on the next phase of our mission to improve the financial health of women entrepreneurs in Pakistan through our partnership and collaboration with Mastercard. The Strive Women program underscores our commitment to fostering a robust ecosystem that nurtures the growth of women-led businesses. Women entrepreneurs play a pivotal role in driving economic progress, and by collectively addressing the barriers they face, we can unleash their full potential for exponential impact on our economy. As we launch Strive Women, we reaffirm our dedication to creating pathways for women to thrive in the business landscape. Together with our partners, we aspire to cultivate an environment where women entrepreneurs can flourish, innovate and contribute meaningfully to our society,” said Adil Sheraz, Country Director, CARE International in Pakistan.

Since 2005, CARE has carried out more than 140 projects and initiatives in Pakistan, addressing challenges around women’s equal access to and control of economic assets and decision-making at individual and household level.  CARE’s programming aims at enhancing sustainable life-skills and vocational training opportunities, improving legal and regulatory protection of productive resources, and collaborating with the government and private sector to promote an enabling working environment in Pakistan. Women’s Economic Empowerment is one of CARE’s priority areas of work in addition to Humanitarian Action, Food and Nutrition Security and Resilience to Climate Change.  CARE International in Pakistan (CIP) reached 36.6 million people through program interventions from 2005 to 2022.

More details on Strive Women in Pakistan are available at:   

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