Mastercard to help diverse-led small businesses on digital journey

Mastercard's Strive initiative will offer personalised support to small businesses led by women and ethnic minorities

A new report today reveals that the UK’s small businesses will miss out on an estimated £827 billion over the next five years if they are not supported in their digital journey.

The report entitled: ‘Striving to Thrive: The state of play for micro and small businesses’ was commissioned by Mastercard from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), where 41% of small business owners said their company would not have survived the pandemic without digital tools.

Digital tools and diverse small business leaders

With the country’s small businesses looking to scale in the post-pandemic digital economy, support with digital tools has been cited by business owners in the report as “the most important factor in achieving their growth aspirations following funding and government support packages.”

A further 47% of small business owners believed that “technology will become more important to their company’s success over the next five years”, while 45% said technology has already helped them expand their customer base. A third said technological adoption has led to increased turnover and profit.

However, despite the clear evidence that shows small business owners feel they benefit from digital tools, 39% feel “overwhelmed by the amount of choice”, with 32% wanting to use more digital tools but unsure which ones would be best for their business. This uncertainty rises to 49% for businesses owned or run by ethnic minorities.

Mastercard launches Strive UK to help

The ‘Striving to Thrive’ report is published as Mastercard launches Strive UK, a new programme to help 650,000 of the UK’s diverse-led small businesses succeed in the digital economy over the next three years via free guidance tools and one-to-one mentoring.

The initiative will offer personalised support to businesses run or owned by women and people from ethnic minority backgrounds underrepresented as business founders.

Included will be an online ‘one-stop-shop’ for entrepreneurs with business growth advice, one-to-one mentoring for businesses to identify the right digital tools for them, and a forum to speak to similar businesses who have already successfully managed to integrate new tools.

Kelly Devine, President, UK & Ireland Mastercard, said: “Small businesses are the beating heart of the British economy. The past 18 months have proved almost unendurably tough for many, and data shows that small businesses urgently need support if they are to survive and grow post-pandemic. Strive UK has been set up to act as a free resource for small business owners across the country, helping them to navigate the digital economy, build relationships and communities, and ultimately realise their growth ambitions.”

Anthony Impey MBE, CEO at Be the Business, a Strive partner, said: “Strive UK will help unlock the tremendous potential and entrepreneurial drive of ethnic minority-owned businesses. Enabling ethnic minority business leaders to embrace technology and succeed in the digital economy will be transformational for businesses and their communities. We believe Strive UK can help inspire a new generation of digitally empowered ethnic minority business leaders.”

Sam Miley, Economist (Cebr), said: “The data highlights the scale of small businesses’ growth aspirations. Realistically, many businesses may fall beneath these expectations due to a number of factors, such as weaker productivity or a slump in economy-wide demand. Nevertheless, external sources could be pivotal to supporting businesses to achieve this growth and minimising the number of businesses that are unable to meet their targets.”
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