Mastercard has pledged to bring a total of 1 billion people and 50 million micro and small businesses into the digital economy by 2025 with a direct focus on providing 25 million women entrepreneurs with solutions that can help them grow their businesses.
Mastercard says this commitment builds on its ongoing efforts to address the COVID-19 related health and economic challenges facing individuals all over the world, including in Kenya.
In a statement, Raghav Prasad, Mastercard’s Division President for Sub-Saharan Africa, “Financial inclusion remains key to unlocking the potential of Sub-Saharan Africa and will become crucial as we support Governments in driving long-term, sustainable economic recovery. Our focus right now – beyond philanthropy – is to steadfastly continue collaborating with governments and private sector partners on solutions that are safe, viable, and most importantly, socially impactful for communities across the region.”
At the 2015 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group, Mastercard committed to bring 500 million excluded individuals into the financial system. It achieved that goal through more than 350 innovative programs across 80 countries.
In Kenya, Mastercard expanded its partnership with Unilever to create Jaza Duka (fill up your store) – a digital program for micro-merchants in Kenya with more than 18,000 duka owners already registered. The program provides a micro-credit eligibility recommendation to Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), which can then assess a retailer’s credit worthiness and extend credit for stock purchases.
The Mastercard Lab for Financial Inclusion – the firm’s first lab focused on financial inclusion and innovation hub in Nairobi, aims to empower millions of Africans through the use of public-private partnerships and build locally relevant technology solutions to solve challenges and opportunities that exist in Africa. One such solution is the Mastercard Farmer Network, formerly known as 2Kuze, a mobile platform that improves market access, increases price transparency and digitizes payments to connect small farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
To help in the global recovery, Mastercard committed up to $25 million in seed funding to establish the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and others to help speed up the response to the COVID-19 epidemic.
It also committed $250 million in financial, technology, product and services support over the next five years to small businesses in many markets where it operates, supporting the vitality of businesses and the financial security of their workers.
The firm is also leveraging its network to provide support to governments around the world in a range of areas such as data insights to inform policymakers about the economic impact of the pandemic; bolster aid disbursements to communities and vulnerable businesses; build donation platforms to enable emergency fundraising; and cyber vulnerability assessments.