Mastercard and Accion share a commitment to building an inclusive digital economy. Accion has long worked to ensure the digital transformation of financial services benefits the world’s three billion financially underserved people, and in 2020, Mastercard pledged to connect 1 billion people—including 50 million micro and small businesses—to the digital economy by 2025.
Mastercard has partnered with Accion since 2011, primarily through the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. Our partnership has sustained Accion’s work across many of our teams and programs, including Accion Global Advisory Solutions, Accion Venture Lab, the Center for Financial Inclusion, and Accion Opportunity Fund, Accion’s primary U.S. presence that supports underfunded small business owners in the U.S.
Our expanded partnership
In 2018, Mastercard and Accion announced a dramatic expansion of our work together. Our first-of-its-kind partnership unites our worldwide networks and resources to help 8 million people, including 3 million merchants, successfully operate in—and benefit from—the digital economy. We are combining insights, innovations, and investments to get critical tools in the hands of small businesses and the financial service providers who serve them.
Around the world, micro-merchants like grocers and ‘mom and pop’ stores, operate largely in cash exchanged in-person, rather than safe and secure digital transactions. This keeps small businesses out of the formal financial sector, and now the pandemic makes their efforts to go online much more urgent.
Seven financial service providers around the world have joined the partnership to digitally transform their operations to reach more small business more effectively. Sub-K, one of these partners, leverages an expansive agent network to reach clients in rural India and connect them with financial services. Accion provided advisory support for the development of SARTHI, Sub-K’s new digital financial services platform that provides a range of offerings for small business, including microcredit and health insurance—all accessible from a mobile phone. SARTHI can take Sub-K’s efforts to reach underserved businesses to the next level while its agent network is limited due to COVID-19.
Mastercard is also working with Accion Opportunity Fund to help small business owners in the United States recover from the pandemic and expand the capital and resources available to entrepreneurs of color. Accion Opportunity Fund provides underfunded small business owners in the U.S. with access to capital, networks, and coaching, and over its history, nearly 90 percent of loans have gone to businesses owned by women, people of color, or immigrants. Mastercard’s support is helping Accion Opportunity Fund scale their services nationally, use alternative data to improve credit decisioning, and strengthen digital channels and outreach.
Through Accion Venture Lab, we’re helping inclusive fintechs address strategic and operational challenges so they can better serve microbusinesses with innovative, digitally-enabled products and services in emerging markets. To date, our work to support fintechs has reached 500,000 small business clients around the world. As part of this work, we helped the education fintech Pintek optimize their credit policies and processes. This can help Pintek better achieve its goal of providing financing to small private schools and low- and middle-income families who are often left out of Indonesia’s competitive public education system.
To build more relevant financial services, we are conducting research to better understand the needs of underserved people and small businesses. The Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion (CFI) is publishing the results of a survey of small businesses across four countries—Colombia, India, Indonesia, and Nigeria—to understand the impact of COVID-19 on their operations and finances. The first results from Nigeria and Indonesia showed that 80 and 85 percent of businesses (respectively) saw profits decline—highlighting the critical challenges faced by small businesses during the pandemic.
Mastercard and Accion also set up a talent philanthropy program that allows Mastercard employees to work within Accion to advance the partnership’s mission. Mastercard employees bring additional knowledge and expertise to Accion and our partners—while gaining the opportunity to serve, protect, and empower banking and finance clients around the world. Thus far, Mastercard employees have helped Accion’s partners leverage data, understand clients’ needs, and shape board governance programs.
Building on the past to focus on the future
Mastercard has been an integral partner in advancing Accion’s mission to build a financially inclusive world for the three billion people who are left out, or poorly served by, the global financial system. In 2016, Accion honored former Mastercard President and CEO Ajay Banga at its 55th-anniversary gala with the Accion Leadership in Financial Inclusion Award. Under Banga’s leadership, in 2015, Mastercard pledged to reach 500 million people previously excluded from financial services. And in 2020, Mastercard expanded that commitment, pledging to help connect 1 billion people and 50 million micro and small businesses to the digital economy by 2025.
Accion’s and Mastercard’s partnership will make progress toward these ambitious goals by continuing to open doors to the digital economy for underserved people around the world. As vulnerable families and small businesses continue to cope with immense challenges, our shared efforts to support them are more urgent than ever.