Mastercard launches Strive Learning Network to support diverse entrepreneurs

The network comprises individuals and organisations that want to support small businesses, especially those led by BAME and female entrepreneurs

Strive UK, Mastercard’s programme to support 650,000 British micro and small enterprises focused on those owned by women and BAME entrepreneurs, has launched the Strive Learning Network.

The network comprises individuals and organisations that want to support small businesses, including global corporates, fintechs, academic institutions and policymakers; its first meeting will be attended by representatives from major organisations including Google, BT and the British Chambers of Commerce.

The network’s role in supporting diverse-led businesses

Mastercard, along with business support organisation Enterprise Nation will host quarterly roundtables for the network to share “learnings and insights” about how to support micro and small businesses.

The intention is for these forums to create partnerships that will make the entrepreneurial ecosystem more equitable for diverse-led businesses and solve the challenges they face, including lack of access to finance, inclusive digitisation, sustainability, and time poverty.

Strive UK, whose partners include a range of business support and resource organisations including ‘Be the Business‘, ‘Digital Boost‘, and ‘Enterprise Nation‘, launched in late September and was formed by the ‘Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth’, which is on a mission to advance “equitable and sustainable economic growth.”

Strive UK – the background

Strive UK seeks to help diverse-led businesses thrive in the digital economy, and over the next three years and beyond, will provide them with access to free guidance, helpful tools, and one-to-one mentoring.

The programme forms part of a wider Strive initiative which includes Strive Community, a partnership-led programme to support the resilience and growth of over five million micro and small businesses globally.

With philanthropic funding from the Mastercard Impact Fund, the programme will support small businesses across the world as they recover from the impact of COVID-19.

Small businesses and the digital challenge

The launch of the Strive Learning Network follows the publication of a Mastercard report in September entitled ‘Striving to Thrive: The state of play for UK micro and small businesses.’

The report found that the UK’s small and micro businesses could miss out on an estimated £827 billion growth opportunity over the next five years if they are not supported to digitise.

While the report found that technology played a crucial role in supporting small businesses through the pandemic, where 41% of small business owners said their company would not have survived without digital tools, the data shows that small businesses are struggling to integrate digital tools, where 32% said they wanted to use more digital tools but were unsure which ones would be best for their business.

Kelly Devine, President, UK & Ireland, Mastercard, said: “Small businesses are the backbone of the UK economy and will be crucial to building a more inclusive economy in the post-pandemic recovery.

“We formed Strive UK to ensure the small businesses that are so crucial to our communities, high streets, and economies not only survive but thrive by equipping them with the digital tools and skills necessary to grow their businesses.

“The Strive Learning Network will convene organisations and policymakers to support and promote collaboration across the small business ecosystem, including partnering with local communities to ensure the impact of Strive UK is deep and long-lasting.”

To read the ‘Striving to Thrive: The state of play for UK micro and small businesses’ report by Mastercard, click here. Information about the ‘Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth’ can be accessed here.

In this article, you learned that:

  • The UK’s small and micro businesses could miss out on an £827 billion growth opportunity if they are not supported to digitise.
  • Diverse-led small businesses can suffer from a lack of access to finance and time poverty.
  • Many small businesses want to use digital tools but are unsure of which ones are best for their business.

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