Micro-merchants, such as grocers and ‘mom and pop’ stores, operate largely in cash rather than safe and secure digitally-enabled transactions.
Originally Published by Mastercard.
Mastercard and global non-profit Accion announced a first-of-its-kind partnership to bring their worldwide networks and resources together to transform millions of underserved micro and small businesses around the world. Through insights, innovations and investments, the organizations will power microbusinesses to successfully operate in, and benefit from, the digital economy, leading to greater financial inclusion, economic growth and job creation.
Micro-merchants, such as grocers and ‘mom and pop’ stores, operate largely in cash rather than safe and secure digitally-enabled transactions. And often, these businesses and the financial services providers that serve them are constrained by onerous, manual processes that are slow and expensive. Without automated tools to accurately record business interactions store owners struggle to build valuable credit history. This potentially leads to higher default rates, restricted lending, and presents obstacles for the individuals hoping to one day expand their businesses.
By introducing digital technology, services and training, Mastercard and Accion will help high potential microbusinesses increase revenues and achieve greater financial security for the individuals and families who depend on them, catalyzing greater economic opportunities for the communities they serve.
Michael Froman, vice chairman and president of Strategic Growth, Mastercard said: “This partnership is the start of something priceless. The digital transformation of financial services leads to faster, smarter and safer transactions, providing people around the world with the tools they need to achieve financial security, grow their businesses, create jobs, and improve quality of life for all.”
Michael Schlein, president and CEO of Accion said: “Mastercard’s unrelenting focus on innovation and inclusion is helping to unlock opportunity for millions of people to build a brighter future for themselves, their families, and their communities. We are thrilled to take our partnership to a new level. Together we will work hard to ensure that today’s digital transformation of financial services benefits those who have been left out or underserved by the global financial system.”
Separately, a $12 million grant for Accion is being independently provided by Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth Fund to digitize and modernize the financial service providers that serve this vital segment of society. This initiative will bring efficiency, transparency and scale to their operations, reaching up to 10 million people over four years.
The strategic partnership will deliver impact through several foundational elements:
Accion will leverage Mastercard employees’ expertise to help create greater understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing underserved micro-businesses. Together, they will develop solutions through research, data analytics and R&D capabilities to inform existing and future programs.
Mastercard and Accion will facilitate a fintech acceleration program to support startups that will optimize the digital ecosystem for micro merchants, leveraging the combined efforts of Quona Capital (fintech-focused venture capital firm partnered with Accion), Accion Venture Lab, and Mastercard’s StartPath program.
The Mastercard Lab for Financial Inclusion and Humanitarian & Development unit will work with Accion to extend the availability and use of programs like Kionect and the Mastercard Farmers Network in new markets. The teams will also focus on co-creating and incubating new products and solutions that help overcome barriers faced by microbusinesses.