July 20

Press Release: Mastercard Strive Community Awards $1 Million to Digital and Data-First Projects to Strengthen Small Businesses

Today, Strive Community announced the inaugural grant recipients from its Innovation Fund. A total of $1 million was awarded to enterprises developing innovative, scalable solutions to strengthen small businesses’ digital capabilities.

The eight awardees from across the globe are transforming how small businesses operate and are supported in a world that is rapidly digitizing. One recipient is using Internet of Things-enabled vending machines that grow retailer revenue in Kenya by reducing stock outs and eliminating single-use plastic. Another is testing the viability of using financial literacy education data to de-risk and expand small business credit in Cambodia, while another awardee is trialling the efficacy of virtual reality to upskill entrepreneurs in favelas in Brazil.

“Digital technologies are rapidly transforming the way businesses interact with their customers, with their employees, and with a global marketplace,” said Shamina Singh, President of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. “These Innovation Fund grantees are all introducing creative solutions that have potential to not only ease the challenges of digitization for small businesses, but unlock its promise, enabling them to grow and thrive.”

Strive Community is a global philanthropic initiative launched by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth in partnership with Caribou Digital. The initiative is focused on strengthening the resilience of small businesses and supporting their growth. Since companies that struggle to make effective use of new technologies risk being left behind, the Innovation Fund was established to spark truly innovative solutions that will boost small businesses’ efforts to go digital.

The eight winning organisations, chosen from more than 650 applicants, are as follows:

Latin America & the Caribbean

  • Flourish FI, Brazil
    Using behavioral insights, open banking data combined with tried & tested game-mechanics to drive improved financial management and financial decision-making by small business owners.
  • XR Global, Brazil
    Testing the potential of virtual reality (VR) to upskill small businesses, by bringing learners into immersive experiences.
  • Open Contracting Partnership, USA/Colombia
    Creating a marketplace that leverages open data about government contract awards to seamlessly connect small businesses winning contracts with financial institutions who can offer them credit.
  • FUNDES, Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Colombia
    Connecting traditional merchants to the most appropriate digitization tools by creating a marketplace.

Asia Pacific

  • ChatGenie, Philippines
    Building new features that reduce friction in the sales process for small businesses selling via social commerce. The solution also enables management of multiple social commerce channels within a single app.
  • Boost Capital, Cambodia
    Scaling up smartphone enabled loans and financial education, and jumpstarting the creation of a virtuous cycle in which businesses engaging in digital financial education are rewarded with better access to financial services.

Middle East & Africa

  • Novek, Kenya
    An Internet-of-Things enabled dispensing machine for powder-based goods, to reduce stock outs, increase sales by dispensing in quantities customers can afford, and eliminate single-use packaging.
  • Boost Technology Ltd, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria
    Trialling a new service that combines data analysis, behavioural science and conversational commerce to empower small retailers with insights to make them more resilient.

Over the next three years, Strive Community will collaborate across business, technology and global development sectors to advance digital, data-first solutions to support 5 million small businesses. Interventions will focus on helping these small businesses digitize their operations, make better use of financial services, and participate more effectively in digital marketplaces. Since September 2021, the initiative has launched or begun development on six programs in partnership with digital platforms, fintechs and small business support organizations in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Organizations supporting small business growth can learn more about the Strive Community, funding and partnership opportunities by visiting

Photo courtesy of Håkan Dahlström.

Source: Mastercard (link opens in a new window)

digital finance, philanthropy