Mastercard has a long history of empowering fledgling business ventures in their early growth stages.
One such example is the Mastercard Impact Fund, a private foundation administered by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth which is aimed at improving the financial resilience and growth of micro and small businesses.
By committing US$320 million in grants to 172 organisations, the fund has given 25 million small businesses access to financial services.
This theme is continuing through the Strive EU Innovation Fund, an initiative dedicated to accelerating the development of solutions to assist small European firms on their digital journeys.
Strive fund helping firms go digital
Entities of any size – from startups to those more established – can access equity-free grants of up to €500,000 from the Strive EU Innovation Fund, provided they are soliciting innovation that helps Europe’s small business community to do the following:
- Unlock working capital and credit through embedded finance
- Go digital safely by bolstering cybersecurity
- Navigate evolving consumer preferences & regulatory expectations around environmental sustainability
- Harness AI to save time and make money
"Digital advances have the potential to serve as a bridge to ensure that everyone, particularly small businesses that power our economies, has the tools to grow and build their businesses and remain resilient,” says Payal Dalal, SVP Social Impact, International Markets at Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.
“We look forward to taking our learnings from our Strive programmes so far and extending our reach and scale across Europe.”
Mastercard focuses in on Europe
The Strive EU Innovation Fund is the latest development of Mastercard’s global Strive scheme – and the first dedicated activity for Strive EU, which was launched in November and is being implemented by Caribou Digital.
Initially launched in 2021 and supported by the Center for Inclusive Growth, Strive is a portfolio of philanthropic programmes aimed at helping more than 10 million small businesses around the world to thrive in the digital economy.
Through Strive EU, Mastercard aims to further boost the resilience and growth of Europe’s small business community by supporting new innovations across the EU that help small businesses access capital, go digital and gain networks.
The application window for the fund is now open, with up to 20 projects from EU member states set to benefit from financial backing, technical assistance and any mentoring they may need to accelerate the development of their solutions.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the European economy, and now, more than ever, it is critical they receive the support they need to join the digital economy,” says Mark Barnett, President at Mastercard Europe.
“We are excited to open the application window for the Strive EU Innovation Fund and to hear about some of the best projects coming from Europe’s most innovative minds over the coming months.”
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