Mastercard advances commitment to Black women-owned businesses across the U.S. with yearlong programming, support and fundingFebruary 14, 2022
Company progresses its Strivers Initiative to elevate and support Black women business owners with funding, mentorship, as well as the digital and cyber tools to get their businesses online and grow
Nearing the anniversary of the launch of the Strivers Initiative, Mastercard is reaffirming its commitment to Black women small business owners through an expanded partnership with Fearless Fund in its joint mission to fund and support Black women-owned businesses, a Priceless mentorship program, an updated suite of tools aimed at digitally fortifying their operations and a new digital marketplace where consumers can shop, share and support their businesses across the U.S.
Black women received less than 1 percent of venture capital funding given in the first half of 2021 despite building businesses at a faster pace than any other segment. Acknowledging the discrepancy between potential and support, Mastercard is celebrating Black History Month by kicking off a yearlong program that drives awareness and impact to these women’s success.
“As Black women business owners look towards the recovery of the pandemic, Mastercard’s commitment to empowering this community of Strivers for long-term growth remains stronger than ever,” said Rustom Dastoor, EVP of North America Marketing and Communications at Mastercard. “Together with our partners, with tools and resources, data, mentorship, partnerships and brand power, the impact we're able to make on individuals and in turn society at large, is truly Priceless.”
Fearless Strivers Grant Contest
Mastercard is proud to partner with Fearless Fund, a venture capital fund built by women of color for women of color, in our joint mission to fund and support Black women owned businesses. With Mastercard prizing, Fearless Fund will provide Black women small business owners across the country with $10,000 grants, digital tools and mentorship to help them build, protect and sustain their business through its second annual Fearless Strivers Grant Contest*. The contest will award one national winner per month throughout 2022. In addition, city-specific grant opportunities for Black women small business owners will be launching shortly in Mastercard’s In Solidarity cities .
“We are thrilled to continue Fearless Fund's partnership with Mastercard and host the Fearless Strivers Grant Contest for a second year," said Arian Simone, Co-Founder and General Partner of Fearless Fund. "Women of color-led businesses continue to be one of the fastest-growing economic forces, and Mastercard’s commitment to help us create a more equitable playing field for these women is exactly the kind of support needed to ensure their success.”
While 76% of people believe that mentorship is critical for their career, only 37% have one. Specifically, Black entrepreneurs are less likely to have access to mentorship networks and are also less likely to seek out professional services . The newly formed Strivers Mentor Collective – subject matter experts, celebrity entrepreneurs and Mastercard ambassadors who have lived the entrepreneurial journey firsthand – will host Priceless one-on-one sessions. Fearless Fund Co-Founder and General Partner Arian Simone, World Golf Hall of Fame golfer and entrepreneur Annika Sörenstam, L.A. Dodgers manager and business owner Dave Roberts, professional golfer and restaurant owner Graeme McDowell, Founder of Create & Cultivate Jaclyn Johnson, James Beard Award-winning chef JJ Johnson, Red Rooster Harlem’s acclaimed chef Marcus Samuelsson, Founder & CEO of Blavity Inc. Morgan DeBaun, Olympic medalist and NYC Marathon champion Shalane Flanagan, Mastercard’s own experts and others are signed up to recount their experience and support the next generation of small business owners.
"Small business owners are bonded by the entrepreneurial journey we face. It's often an uphill battle," said Marcus Samuelsson, Red Rooster Harlem’s acclaimed chef. “Black-owned restaurants and businesses, in particular, have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Now is a time to rebuild and grow, which is why I am proud to work with Mastercard in helping entrepreneurs at this moment in their path forward."
Digital Tools and Resources
With more businesses operating and transacting online, the need for cyber security is critical now more than ever. 88% of small business owners felt their business was vulnerable to a cyber-attack, yet many don’t know where to begin or have limited time to devote to cybersecurity. Which is why Mastercard will give away 1,000 licenses to its Trust Center Marketplace. Distributed to Fearless Strivers grant recipients, as well as the small business community at partner events throughout the year, the Mastercard Trust Center Marketplace provides access to a suite of Mastercard’s cyber solutions, including: My Cyber Risk, Identity Theft Protection, Trust Center and Cyber Insurance.
Mastercard will also continue providing small business owners with foundational online tools and resources to digitally transform their business through Mastercard Digital Doors™.
A new Mastercard Small Biz Marketplace provides an online destination for a curated selection of Strivers’ goods and wares. Powered by Pinterest, an inspiration to realization platform where 9 in 10 Pinners use the platform to enhance their shopping experience, consumers can discover, share and support Black women owned small businesses across the U.S. To learn more about the marketplace visit here.
These efforts build on the company’s sustained efforts to build a more inclusive digital economy, to help close the racial wealth and opportunity gap, and to commit half-billion-dollar commitment to support Black communities over the next five years.
*Fearless Strivers Grant Contest
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. A PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. THIS IS A SKILL BASED CONTEST. Void where prohibited. Contest open only to black females who are legal U.S. residents (including DC), 18+ and the principal owner of a U.S.-based small business (as described in the Official Rules). ARV of prize: $10,000. Ends 12/31/22. For Official Rules & complete details, visit Fearless.fund/strivers. Sponsor: Fearless Fund. Mastercard is not responsible for the promotion, administration or execution of this Contest.
 Kunthara, S. (2021, July 16). Black women still receive just a tiny fraction of VC funding despite 5-year high. Crunchbase News. Retrieved from https://news.crunchbase.com/news/something-ventured-black-women-founders
 Gotian, D. R. (2022, February 1). Getting more out of your mentoring relationship. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ruthgotian/2022/02/01/getting-more-out-of-your-mentoring-relationship/?sh=40a8a00717a5
 Starr, R. (2018, October 12). 92% of small business owners say mentors have major impact on growth. Small Business Trends. Retrieved from https://smallbiztrends.com/2018/10/importance-of-mentors-in-business.html
 Stay safe from cybersecurity threats. U.S. Small Business Administration. Retrieved from https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/manage-your-business/stay-safe-cybersecurity-threats