Mastercard said that gender inequality around the world limited the ability of women-owned companies to start, grow and thrive.
To solve these gaps, Mastercard and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has partnered with the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-BNP) to launch the Kirana project, it added.
“It is a really strong initiative. It is the expansion of what we are doing in many markets and we have committed ourselves to a large part of India. Globally we have committed $ 250 million to support SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), ” Porush singh, said Division President (South Asia) for Mastercard, announcing the partnership at a virtual event on Thursday.
He added that in India, the company has committed $ 33 million. “It’s a big piece … to help bring in SMEs and empower female entrepreneurs for the next five years.”
Mastercard recently announced a commitment of 250 crs ($ 33 million) to help restart Indian SMEs and enable business recovery in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of the commitment, the company has launched several initiatives in India to help small businesses go online by growing digital payments.
The initiatives will also drive inclusive growth by giving small retailers and kirana stores access to credit and empowering women entrepreneurs by increasing their business insights.
Project Kirana will work to increase revenue streams, expand financial inclusion and the adoption of digital payments by kirana stores owned or operated by women, Mastercard said.
The two-year Project Kirana program will be implemented by DAI and ACCESS Development Services in selected cities in Uttar Pradesh, including Lucknow, Kanpur and Varanasi. The program will focus on building financial and digital skills in banking, digital payment, savings, credit and insurance.
“Creating equal opportunities for women in business is not only a matter of gender equality, but also an economic priority. At Mastercard, we believe in leveling the playing field for women entrepreneurs,” said Alison Eskesen, vice president of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. .
He added that it will be imperative to help women unleash their potential, strengthen their skills and improve their participation in business.
Karen Klimowski, Acting India Mission Director for USAID, said the partnership between USAID and Mastercard is an example of the US government’s commitment to working with the private sector to achieve results for sustainable development, such as the global women’s economic empowerment.
USAID has a global network of more than 186 gender counselors working to accelerate USAID’s gender work worldwide.
“Global prosperity remains out of reach if we exclude half the population. At USAID, we believe that investing in women is the key to unleashing human potential on a transformation scale,” he said. John Barsa, acting administrator of USAID, in the release.
Singh said India is one of the countries with the largest gender gap in the world. “Project Kirana is strategically designed to support women with a range of skills and knowledge to increase their access to financial services and ultimately bring them into the formal economy.”