New Program Specifically Targets Micro, Small Businesses Led by Women

Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth is joining forces with CARE to empower women-owned businesses even further.
March 27, 2024 | 12:48

Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth and CARE, an international humanitarian organization, on March 26 announced the launch of Mastercard Strive Women in Vietnam, a new program that aims to strengthen the financial health and resilience of businesses, with a focus on micro and small businesses led by women.

Strive Women, a global program that runs in Peru, Pakistan, and Vietnam, focuses on strengthening the financial health of small businesses by working with local partners in each market to deliver tailored financial products and support services while addressing unique gender barriers that women-led businesses face.

Strive Women joins Mastercard’s portfolio of philanthropic small business support programs, called Mastercard Strive, which helps small businesses thrive in the digital economy. This initiative aligns perfectly with CARE's mission of economic empowerment for women.

“With long experience working to support women around the globe, CARE understands that female entrepreneurship is a critical avenue through which we can support women’s economic empowerment. Women also put their profits back into their families, create more jobs, and bring greater prosperity to their communities. We’re thrilled to embrace this newly launched Strive Women program to continue fueling the growth engine of women-owned businesses with tools and financial resources that better suit their needs,” said Le Kim Dung, Country Director, of CARE in Vietnam.

'Strive Women' Program Supports Women-Led Small Businesses
Women entrepreneurs talk about financial health after the launching ceremony of Strive Women in Vietnam. Photo: CARE in Vietnam

In partnership with local financial service providers, business incubators, and fintech partners, Strive Women in Vietnam takes a women-centered design approach to understand the needs of women entrepreneurs and deliver financial products and support services, such as capacity building, digital skills enhancement, and women’s network strengthening.

The program will focus on building a holistic understanding of financial health for women entrepreneurs in Vietnam. Many women lack confidence when it comes to managing finances. The program will address this by empowering them with financial literacy and decision-making skills.

Additionally, it innovates in areas such as climate crisis adaptation and childcare support, recognizing their disproportionate impact on women. Over four years, the program aims to reach 2 million entrepreneurs in Vietnam through campaigns, while directly supporting over 90,000 entrepreneurs — the majority being women — to grow their businesses and increase their economic potential.

Strive Women builds on the success of the Ignite program, also funded by the Mastercard Impact Fund, which unlocked more than VND 1.5 trillion (USD 64.1 million) in loans in Vietnam and directly supported over 47,000 Vietnamese entrepreneurs, in which 99% of them are women. Following the program, 80% of Vietnamese participants increased their sales, and 86% reported increased confidence in running the business.

Luu Thi Hoa, an entrepreneur from Ha Giang province who participated in Ignite, shares her journey commencing with the fact that starting an ethnic minority co-operative, she faced many difficulties in terms of accessing capital, information technology and new knowledge. Hoa also talks about the pressure from family and society to have a ‘stable’ job and spend more time with her baby.

Going through the struggles that the Covid-19 pandemic posed, Hoa highlighted the importance of digitalization, “Digital skills are critical these days. People connect online; sales are online. If we don’t change our tactics, we won’t be able to keep up. Digital skills will also help our business grow beyond the territory of Vietnam and expand to foreign markets.”

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