RESEARCH REPORT

Striving to Thrive: The state of play for UK micro and small businesses

September 23, 2021

For many of the country’s six million micro and small businesses, simply surviving these last two years has felt like winning. The challenges of retaining staff, continuing to serve customers and manage cash flow during multiple lockdowns have weighed heavy but owners have fought to keep their businesses afloat and – as we come out the other side of the pandemic - will be absolutely crucial to our economic recovery, and rebuilding our communities.

Small businesses are the beating heart of the British economy – they generate over a third of total UK business revenue and employ 48% of the workforce. More than that, the pandemic has highlighted the essential roles they play in our communities, providing services when others couldn’t, creating jobs, enriching our high streets and keeping the country going – economically and emotionally. At the height of multiple lockdowns when many were forced to close up shop, we missed them and counted down the days to their return.

“Working together with our partners, and complementing Government initiatives such as Help to Grow, Strive UK can move the dial for hundreds of thousands of businesses across the UK as we recover from the pandemic and look to build a more inclusive economy.”
Kelly Devine, President, Mastercard UK & Ireland

The research we commissioned Cebr to conduct reveals the significant benefits that technology brings to small businesses such as time saved, new customers acquired and increased revenues. Indeed, help accessing digital tools was cited as the biggest factor in helping them achieve their future revenue growth – collectively estimated at up to £827 billion over the next five years – following funding and government support. 

It is against this backdrop that we have launched Strive UK.

Strive UK is a philanthropic programme created by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, aiming to reach over half a million micro and small businesses around the country, empowering them to succeed in the digital economy through free guidance, helpful tools, and personalised, one-to-one mentoring. Strive UK forms part of the global Strive programme that helps small businesses strengthen their financial resilience and growth and builds on Mastercard’s commitment to invest $250 million to support micro and small businesses make the most of the digital economy globally.

With philanthropic funding from the Mastercard Impact Fund and in partnership with a team of small business experts - Enterprise Nation, Digital Boost and Be the Business - Strive UK will support 650,000 small businesses over the next three years.

Media Contacts

Suman Hughes, Mastercard