Setting Up Shop: Introducing Strive USASeptember 29, 2022
Mastercard’s global small business initiative opens its doors for the first time in the U.S., will support 5 million businesses over the next 5 years
There’s been a historic jump in new businesses in recent years, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. A record 5.4 million applications for new businesses were filed with the IRS in 2021, exceeding the 4.4 million applications filed in 2020, which was also a record.
Even with this spike in entrepreneurship, many American small businesses are still wrestling with the effects of a global pandemic, supply chain disruptions, staffing strains, economic volatility, sustained inflation, and more.
To show up for America’s small businesses like they’ve been showing up for communities across the country, Mastercard is expanding one of its signature small business initiatives into new territory, setting up shop with Strive USA, a new effort under the Strive banner of global programs led by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.
“Because small businesses are so essential to the U.S. economy, the barriers that stand in the way of their success also stand in the way of shared prosperity and inclusive growth,” said Shamina Singh, founder and president of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. “The American spirit of entrepreneurship has endured through every challenge of the last few years. Now, we have an opportunity and a responsibility as a community of small business enablers to match their drive to survive and thrive, meeting them at this turning point with support tailored to what they need most. As we see it, empowering small businesses in these targeted ways at this moment in time can create a ripple effect that carries forward the work of building an economy that promises opportunity for everyone, everywhere.”
Meeting the moment
Strive USA will join together and strengthen an ecosystem of organizations primed to address three common challenges small businesses are confronting:
Getting capital: To enable small businesses to access capital more efficiently — particularly those that have been underserved — Strive USA will help Community Financial Institutions (CFIs) expand their impact. According to a 2022 Federal Reserve survey, small businesses owned by people of color were half as likely as white-owned small businesses to report receiving all the traditional financing for which they applied in the previous 12 months.
Going digital: To make it easier to do business in the modern marketplace, Strive USA will work with tech-oriented partners to offer tools and resources that help small businesses digitalize their operations and transition to tech-forward ways of working. A recent OECD report outlined several reasons why it’s critical for small enterprises to go digital, including that gaps in digital adoption can ultimately “contribute to increasing inequalities among individuals, firms, communities and places.”
Growing networks and know-how: To help small businesses withstand current and future pressures, Strive USA will create opportunities for owners to tap into training, education, and mentorship through connections with expert organizations, primarily at a local level. According to a report by McKinsey, Black entrepreneurs are less likely to know and hear about relevant networks that can help support and promote their businesses — a phenomenon Strive USA will seek to remedy.
“Small businesses continue to feel the effects of the pandemic and its aftermath, and through the last two years, it’s become glaringly obvious that two things they need to survive are access to capital and a digital operation,” said Ginger Siegel, North America Small Business Lead at Mastercard. “We want small businesses to do more than survive — we want them to thrive, and together with our digital tools and resources, cyber solutions, and expansive network of partners, we’re able to make a real impact on the individuals and communities they support.”
Strengthening an ecosystem of enablers
Over the next five years, Strive USA aims to provide support to five million small businesses in the U.S., with a focus on underserved business owners. By forging partnerships and providing grants to organizations working directly with small businesses, Strive USA is envisioned to be a comprehensive resource and rallying force for Main Street.
Initial grantees include:
CNote: A women-led impact platform that uses technology to unlock diversified community investments to increase economic mobility and financial inclusion.
Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF): Supports mission-driven organizations through the development of products and services aimed at increasing the flow of capital to historically underinvested communities across the country.
Momentus Capital: Rooted in social mission, Momentus Capital provides a continuum of financial, social, and knowledge capital for small businesses and community development organizations at every growth stage to support economic mobility and wealth creation in underestimated communities.
To ensure Strive USA small businesses have wrap-around assistance, the initiative will also work with a diverse set of public, private and social sector partners. Current supporters include Capital One, which continues to offer and build a diverse suite of financial products, tools and services designed specifically for business owners with varying financial needs to help them move their business forward and keep their communities thriving. The company offers support for small businesses by accelerating investments with Black and Hispanic partners and suppliers, expanding mentoring, training and advisory programs for Black and Hispanic businesses and nonprofits, and producing custom research aimed at closing information gaps to advance greater equity and opportunity in the small business ecosystem through the Capital One Insights Center. Capital One will continue to expand access to these tools and solutions through Mastercard’s Strive USA initiative.
In cooperation with additional partners at the local level, targeted programming will begin in Atlanta, Birmingham, New Orleans, New York City and St. Louis.
Supporting small business to build inclusive economies
Launched in 2021 and led by Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth, Strive is an innovative set of global programs tailor-made to support pandemic recovery, growth, and resilience among small businesses. Ongoing Strive initiatives include Strive UK and Strive Community.
Strive USA will be carried out in tandem with Mastercard’s In Solidarity initiative, which aims to combat racism and bridge the racial wealth and opportunity gap through commitments across three pillars: People, Market and Society. These efforts also complement the Strivers Initiative, which supports Black women-owned businesses across the U.S.
What they’re saying
Catherine Berman, CEO of CNote: “There is a tremendous opportunity in the United States today to harness the power of technology to provide transformative financial services to under-resourced communities. Mastercard’s leadership in this field has been a game-changer for CNote, and we couldn’t be more excited for the launch of Strive USA, which will empower millions of businesses to thrive in the digital economy.”
Frank Altman, co-founder and CEO of CRF: “All of us at CRF are thrilled to expand our partnership with Mastercard. Mastercard understands the important role CDFIs like CRF play in helping small business owners overcome systemic barriers to growth. Together, we can harness innovation and build the digital capacity of small businesses and the organizations that support them.”
Ellis Carr, president and CEO of Momentus Capital: “From lending and technical assistance to impact investments and access to technology, it is important that entrepreneurs of color have access to a continuum of financial, knowledge, and social capital that break down systemic barriers to success. We are excited to have the support of the Mastercard Strive program, which will allow us to provide innovative solutions so that all people and communities have access to the capital and opportunities they deserve.”
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. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.