Mastercard Strive Women aims to strengthen the financial well-being of small businesses in the APEC economies, focusing on female-led enterprises.
Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth (the Center) and the international humanitarian organization CARE announced the launch of the Mastercard Strive Women program on Nov. 15 at the APEC CEO Summit.
Strive Women will partner with local financial institutions in the APEC markets of Peru and Vietnam, as well as in Pakistan, to deliver tailored financial products and support services to small businesses, with a greater emphasis on supporting women business owners. The program aims to overcome gender barriers that women-led businesses face.
Strive Women will be carried out by CARE using a $9 million grant from the Mastercard Impact Fund. The partners expect to reach 6 million entrepreneurs through various campaigns and directly support over 300,000 entrepreneurs. The majority of grant loan receivers will be women entrepreneurs. The program will help them expand their businesses and increase liquidity. Besides financial assistance, Strive Women aims to build a broad ecosystem of stakeholders committed to long-term support for female-led businesses.
“When women entrepreneurs have access to the tools and resources they need, they pay it back and pay it forward, enabling their businesses and their communities to thrive. We’re launching Strive Women because we’ve seen that the right investment at the right time can help ensure that women-led businesses prosper around the world.”
Shamina Singh, Founder and President of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth
The Strive Women initiative follows another joint project called Ignite. That program distributed $154.9 million in loans with an initial grant of $5.26 million. As a result, the press release states that 79% of female participants increased their sales, and 89% reported increased confidence in business management.
Due to the increased recognition of the unique challenges women in business face, many financial institutions have launched different initiatives to support women entrepreneurs. Earlier this year, Westpac announced new measures to help female-led SMBs with dedicated start-up and scale-up loans, as research reveals accessing finance is one of the main challenges for women in business.