How Mastercard’s “Data Philanthropy” Program Is Tackling The Global Financial Information Gap
The whole idea of corporate philanthropy is pretty straightforward: A large company becomes profitable enough that it sets aside a certain sum each year to funnel toward the charity or cause of its choosing. Despite the fact that this formula has come under fire for serving as a cover-up for companies whose supply chains and manufacturing practices do far more damage to society and the environment than a couple cool millions can rectify, businesses persist in following it.
Through its Center for Inclusive Growth, an independent subsidiary of the company launched in 2013 to support financial inclusion in the developing world, Mastercard is experimenting with a new type of philanthropy: data donation. Mastercard is one of the largest payments companies in the world, and Shamina Singh, president of the Center for Inclusive Growth, says that when the Center was founded, it was with a mandate from the company’s board of directors to “think about Mastercard’s assets broadly, and then think about how those assets can be applied for social good.” And with a company like Mastercard, Singh says, “you realize very quickly that data is an enormous asset.” Through its data philanthropy program, Mastercard offers governments, nonprofits, and other private companies “data grants” that allow their proprietary insights to be put toward furthering research and programs advancing social good.
Photo courtesy of the MasterCard Foundation.