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Mastercard launches Strive Learning Network to support the UK’s entrepreneurs to thrive

  • Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth forms the Strive Learning Network, a coalition of individuals and organisations to work together to support small businesses.
  • Strive UK is a programme to help small businesses build financial resilience and improve growth prospects over the next three years and beyond, by developing the digital skills they need to thrive.
  • Research finds £827 billion growth opportunity for UK’s small businesses who can digitise in the next five years.

London, UK, October 2021: Today, Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth launches the Strive Learning Network as part of its new micro and small business flagship programme, Strive UK, that launched in late September.

In partnership with Be the BusinessDigital Boost and Enterprise Nation, Strive UK will support 650,000 British micro and small enterprises (MSEs), with a particular focus on businesses owned by women and those from ethnic minority backgrounds, to thrive in the digital economy. Over the next three years and beyond, Strive UK will provide small business owners with access to free guidance, helpful tools, and personalised, one-to-one mentoring.

This follows a new Mastercard report – ‘Striving to Thrive: The state of play for UK micro and small businesses’ from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), which exposed a significant risk that the UK’s small and micro businesses will miss out on an estimated £827 billion growth opportunity over the next five years if they are not supported to digitise.

The report showed technology has already played a critical role in supporting small businesses through the pandemic, with 41% of small business owners saying their company would not have survived without digital tools. Despite this, data shows that challenges remain for small businesses looking to integrate digital tools, with 32% wanting to use more digital tools but unsure which ones would be best for their business.

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In an effort to facilitate more learning and collaboration in the entrepreneurial support ecosystem, and therefore ensure businesses have the tools they need to succeed, Mastercard has convened the Strive Learning Network. It is a coalition made up of individuals and organisations that have a focus on supporting small businesses including global corporates, fintechs, academic institutions, policymakers, and professional bodies. The inaugural meeting will be attended by representatives from organisations including, BT, Vodafone, PayPal, Aviva, Santander, Natwest, British Chambers of Commerce and the CBI.

Mastercard, together with Enterprise Nation, will host quarterly roundtables for the network to share learnings and insights into the most effective ways to support micro and small businesses. These forums will be used to co-create new partnerships that will further the entrepreneurial ecosystem and problem solve the enduring challenges and opportunities facing micro and small business such as access to finance, inclusive digitisation, sustainability, time poverty and open banking.

Kelly Devine, President, UK & Ireland, Mastercard, comments: “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.”

Strive UK has launched as part of a wider Strive global initiative which also includes Strive Community, a partnership-led programme focussed on supporting the resilience and growth of more than five million micro and small businesses across the world. With philanthropic funding from the Mastercard Impact Fund, the programme will support small businesses globally as they recover from the impact of the pandemic.

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