Mastercard launches Strive Czechia to help 250,000 small entrepreneurs succeed in the digital economyNovember 3, 2022 | Prague
The launch of Strive Czechia was officially endorsed by the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union
Today, Mastercard announced the launch of Strive Czechia, a 3-year initiative which aims to enable 250,000 Czech micro and small businesses to thrive in the digital economy. The program is part of the Strive banner of global programs supported by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.
“The pandemic highlighted the vulnerability of small businesses, especially those that are women-owned, and the importance of digitalization. Easing the path for Czech small business to digitalize can help ensure that underserved entrepreneurs, and women in particular, have the financial services they need to grow” says Payal Dalal, Senior Vice President, Social Impact, International Markets at the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. “By convening the entrepreneurial support ecosystem in Czechia to co-create programs and tools with Czech small business in mind, we are confident that Strive Czechia can help put Czech small businesses back on the path to growth.”
Micro and small businesses are the backbone of the Czech economy, making up 19 out of 20 Czech companies, and employing almost half the population. Adopting new technology is crucial for businesses’ success in an increasingly digital economy. However, micro and small businesses often face challenges when trying to digitize, including high costs and uncertainty about which technologies are the most suitable for small businesses.
The Strive Czechia Barometer, a recent survey run by 60 Decibels and supported by the Czech Chamber of Commerce (HK CR) and Mastercard, shows that the biggest obstacles that prevent entrepreneurs in Czechia from digitalization are costs, uncertainty about their benefits and concerns that digital solutions are not suitable for small businesses. Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents would appreciate advice from other entrepreneurs on digitalization. The same percentage of respondents would like to use a unified platform as an aid in finding the most appropriate technologies for their company’s needs.
The barometer also shows that businesses led by women face even more challenges, with close to half of women surveyed not realising how important digitilization is for their future success. In addition, women-led companies have performed less well over the past year and face a less optimistic outlook for the future. They also have a greater need for support services, such as training in digital and management skills, and financial and general support, to help them increase resilience or boost their growth. Within the Strive Czechia program, special attention will be paid to businesses owned or managed by women. The initiative will also focus on providing support to businesses owned or managed by residents displaced from Ukraine who are currently in the Czech Republic.
Strive Czechia will help micro and small entrepreneurs get the right advice about the technologies suitable for their business and financing needs.
"Small businesses are still feeling the impact of the pandemic, and now they are facing additional economic challenges.” said Michal Čarný, General manager, Mastercard Czech Republic and Slovakia, adding: "We want Czech small businesses to focus on more than just survival. We want them to thrive in the long-term, and I believe that together with our partners, Strive Czechia will be able to have a real impact on the individuals and communities they support."
The key objectives of Strive Czechia are to:
- Unlock funding for small businesses: Strive Czechia will partner with financial service providers to help them design specific financial products that serve the needs of micro and small business owners.
- Encourage usage of digital tools: Strive Czechia will help small businesses access centralized digitalization resources that can help them thrive in an increasingly digital economy.
- Develop networks and know-how: Strive Czechia will help strengthen the ecosystem of small business support organizations and develop mentoring and training programs for entrepreneurs so they can access tailored guidance.
"Digitalization of Czech small and medium-sized enterprises is one of the main priorities of the Czech Government and its guiding strategies, including the National Recovery Plan. To successfully achieve its objectives in spurring the growth of the SME sector via digitalization, the Ministry of Industry and Trade welcomes initiatives from the private sector and has granted the Strive Czechia program official support. Strive Czechia is set to significantly bolster the SME sector, including micro enterprises, and the Ministry looks forward to working with Mastercard on achieving these joint objectives", said Jozef Síkela, Minister of Industry and Trade.
CARE Czech Republic, part of the CARE International confederation, will serve as the primary partner to Strive Czechia. CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. It places special focus on working alongside women and girls to achieve social justice by creating economic opportunities and increasing resilience. Katarína Klamková, National Director of CARE Czech Republic says: “Gender remains one of the most fundamental sources of inequality in the world today. We know that women entrepreneurs don’t have access to the same opportunities as men. Through Strive Czechia we aim to change that status quo. CARE has been a leader in financial inclusion and women’s entrepreneurship for more than three decades and we are excited to work with our local partners to make it easier for entrepreneurs in our country to thrive.”
Other important partners of the Strive Czechia programs include the Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Crafts CZ, The Czech Chamber of Commerce, Czechitas, Opero and its mentoring program Do Toho.
Results from the Strive Czechia Barometer can be downloaded on www.mastercard.cz
Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth
The Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth advances equitable and sustainable economic growth and financial inclusion around the world. The center leverages the company’s core assets and competencies, including data insights, expertise and technology, while administering the philanthropic Mastercard Impact Fund, to produce independent research, scale global programs and empower a community of thinkers, leaders and doers on the front lines of inclusive growth. For more information and to receive its latest insights, follow the center on Twitter and LinkedIn and subscribe to its newsletter.
About Mastercard (NYSE: MA)
Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.