Mastercard Strive Community awards $1M to digital and data-first projects to strengthen small businessesSeptember 22, 2022
The Strive Community announced the inaugural grant recipients from its Innovation Fund. A total of $1 million was awarded to enterprises developing innovative, scalable solutions to strengthen small businesses’ digital capabilities.
The eight awardees from across the globe are transforming how small businesses operate and are supported in a world that is rapidly digitizing. One recipient is using Internet of Things-enabled vending machines that grow retailer revenue in Kenya by reducing stock outs and eliminating single-use plastic. Another is testing the viability of using financial literacy education data to de-risk and expand small business credit in Cambodia, while another awardee is trialling the efficacy of virtual reality to upskill entrepreneurs in favelas in Brazil.
“Digital technologies are rapidly transforming the way businesses interact with their customers, with their employees, and with a global marketplace,” said Shamina Singh, President of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. “These Innovation Fund grantees are all introducing creative solutions that have potential to not only ease the challenges of digitization for small businesses, but unlock its promise, enabling them to grow and thrive.”
Strive Community is a global philanthropic initiative launched by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth in partnership with Caribou Digital. The initiative is focused on strengthening the resilience of small businesses and supporting their growth. Since companies that struggle to make effective use of new technologies risk being left behind, the Innovation Fund was established to spark truly innovative solutions that will boost small businesses’ efforts to go digital.
The eight winning organisations, chosen from more than 650 applicants, are as follows:
Latin America & the Caribbean
- Flourish FI, Brazil
Using behavioral insights, open banking data combined with tried & tested game-mechanics to drive improved financial management and financial decision-making by small business owners.
- XR Global, Brazil
Testing the potential of virtual reality (VR) to upskill small businesses, by bringing learners into immersive experiences.
- Open Contracting Partnership, USA/Colombia
Creating a marketplace that leverages open data about government contract awards to seamlessly connect small businesses winning contracts with financial institutions who can offer them credit.
- FUNDES, Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Colombia
Connecting traditional merchants to the most appropriate digitization tools by creating a marketplace.
- ChatGenie, Philippines
Building new features that reduce friction in the sales process for small businesses selling via social commerce. The solution also enables management of multiple social commerce channels within a single app.
- Boost Capital, Cambodia
Scaling up smartphone enabled loans and financial education, and jumpstarting the creation of a virtuous cycle in which businesses engaging in digital financial education are rewarded with better access to financial services.
Middle East & Africa
- Novek, Kenya
An Internet-of-Things enabled dispensing machine for powder-based goods, to reduce stock outs, increase sales by dispensing in quantities customers can afford, and eliminate single-use packaging.
- Boost Technology Ltd, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria
Trialling a new service that combines data analysis, behavioural science and conversational commerce to empower small retailers with insights to make them more resilient.
Over the next three years, Strive Community will collaborate across business, technology and global development sectors to advance digital, data-first solutions to support 5 million small businesses. Interventions will focus on helping these small businesses digitize their operations, make better use of financial services, and participate more effectively in digital marketplaces. Since September 2021, the initiative has launched or begun development on six programs in partnership with digital platforms, fintechs and small business support organizations in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Organizations supporting small business growth can learn more about the Strive Community, funding and partnership opportunities by visiting www.strivecommunity.org.
Zahid Mitha, CEO, Novek: "Small businesses are key to our success as a company. Here in Kenya they represent 70% of retail revenues. We believe that if we improve both the product they deliver to customers and their incomes, we will ultimately drive economic prosperity for everyone."
Ragde Falcis, CEO/CTO & Co-Founder, ChatGenie: “The innovation grant will definitely help our team continue to pursue initiatives and development of features that will help micro and small businesses to grow their businesses online. We will use it to launch our new product that will allow service-based merchants to accept bookings and appointments within Messenger, Instagram, Viber, GCash, and add more growth features for our merchants.”
Pedro Moura, CEO & Co-Founder, Flourish Fi: “We are excited and proud to be one of the winners of Mastercard Strive Innovation Fund. The mission-alignment between Flourish Fi and Mastercard of ‘doing well by doing good’ will foster new solutions to help small businesses and their owners drive positive money habits in Latin America.”
Lucinda Revell, Co-Founder, Boost Capital: “Thanks to the Mastercard Strive Innovation Fund award, Boost Capital will be able to deliver financial services and education to 150,000 small businesses in Asia Pacific. We are excited that through this award, the Mastercard Strive Innovation Fund is highlighting a new generation of financial services and education solutions. Boost is so excited and honored!”
Lindsey Marchessault, Director of Data and Engagement, Open Contracting Partnership: “Small women-led businesses have been shut out of the 13 trillion dollar global procurement market for too long. To meet the challenge of building sustainable and equitable societies in the 21st century, we need to build open data-driven, participatory and smarter solutions for public procurement. This fund will be critical to develop an innovative approach that will open up opportunities for small businesses.”
Koye Oyeyinka, Co-Founder and COO, Boost Technology Ltd: “Strive Community's support will allow Boost to design and test a new digital service that empowers micro and small convenience retailers with business insights. The prize will allow Boost to extend our R&D capacity and accelerate the launch of retailer-facing features to power the growth of our MSME users.”
Corentin Larue, Director, FUNDES Catalyst: “In Latin America, the long-term survival of millions of small merchants depends on their ability to adapt and embrace digitization. Digital illiteracy and asymmetry of information impede them from doing so. The Strive Innovation Fund and FUNDES’ ambition is to overcome these barriers by developing innovative digital solutions that connect merchants to the digital economy.”
Natalie Miller, Co-Founder, XR Global: “XRGlobal is ecstatic to be part of the Strive Community to not only test our current beta version of the Meta Academie virtual reality (VR) multi-user platform for micro businesses, but to showcase the power of VR for learning and development across emerging markets."
About the 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. Our decency quotient, or DQ, drives our culture and everything we do inside and outside of our company. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.