During the 9th Summit of the Americas held in Los Angeles, California, Mastercard reinforced its commitment to advancing financial and digital inclusion in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras with a new set of commitments and programs focused on advancing economic empowerment for women and girls in the region. The commitments are part of Mastercard’s engagement, as a founding member, in the Partnership for Central America (PCA).
According to the Latin American Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CELIEM) Women’s Entrepreneurship Monitor of 2022, 60% of women business owners in Central America said they finance their business activities with their own resources due to lack of access to financing options, while the high costs to formalize their business presents yet another obstacle.
Mastercard is working to address these challenges by ensuring women entrepreneurs can access and leverage necessary tools and resources to start, build and grow their businesses as integral foundations for their communities. This includes a commitment to digitize 300,000 women-owned and -led businesses in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador over the next five years – providing them with accessible digital financial tools to increase sales and access to credit that will enable them to expand their business, foster sustainability and further their contribution to their local economies.
“We know communities see exponential returns when we empower women, and particularly women entrepreneurs, with the tools, capital and resources necessary to sustain and grow their businesses,” said Michael Froman, vice chairman and president, Strategic Growth, for Mastercard. “In working across the public and private sector, our priority needs to center on the long-term prosperity of these entrepreneurs and their businesses as critical contributors to the local economy and job creation.”
Driving impact through collective action
The company is also leveraging the power of collective action by partnering with organizations including Accion, INCAE Business School, Cargill and PriceSmart. Enabled by initial support from the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, Accion, in partnership with Fundacion Genesis Empresarial (Génesis), they will develop an innovation ecosystem for fintech startups in the agricultural and small business sector. The ecosystem will empower one million women and other social innovation startup founders to access business and technology partnerships, data exchange standards, open banking frameworks, and funding over five years.
In collaboration with PriceSmart and Cargill, Mastercard will work with long-time partner INCAE Business School to launch the Women’s Business Growth Initiative, an effort to support 120 women-led small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Honduras and Guatemala and help them to gain access to markets and capital to grow their businesses and support job creation.
“The global pandemic has exacerbated inequalities around the world. According to the World Bank, women have been most impacted in terms of employment and income loss. For Mastercard, driving a sustainable and equitable digital economy where everyone can thrive means providing female entrepreneurs and micro and small business owners the financial tools, access to capital and networks needed to grow and sustain their businesses. It means inspiring young girls to see a future career in technology and business so that the next generation of women will be even more empowered than the next,” said Carlo Enrico, president, Mastercard Latin America and Caribbean. “We look forward to collaborating with partners, governments and civil society organizations to create the impact needed to make a difference.”
Expanding financial literacy for financial inclusion
Financial literacy is vital for the adoption of financial tools that are necessary for economic development. Through Mastercard’s Cuentas Claras digital financial literacy program in Central America, the company has reached more than seven million people (55% female) with information on topics such as savings, loans, opening a bank account and more since the program started in 2020.
Empowering the next generation of women leaders
In addition to supporting current women-owned and -led businesses, Mastercard also commits to inspiring the next generation of women leaders to pursue a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) through its award-winning Girls4Tech program. Mastercard will provide 5,000 girls in Northern Central America education in STEM principles connected to the topics core to its payments business (i.e. fraud detection, artificial intelligence, cryptography, among others) over the next five years. The company will celebrate today’s announcement by hosting an inaugural Girls4Tech session on June 8 with 100 girls from participating schools in Guatemala City.
Expanding the benefits of financial inclusion to everyone in Northern Central America
Most recently, Mastercard announced the launch of a new financial inclusion program in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras with the objective of accelerating financial inclusion for five million unbanked individuals and digitizing one million micro and small businesses (MSMBs) over the course of five years. Under the new program, the company will work with partner banks to encourage and enable them to offer the best financial tools and solutions to unbanked individuals and MSMB owners that need access to capital and the tools to digitize their business. Solutions include digital and physical debit or prepaid Mastercard card programs for consumers and micro business cards for MSMB owners. In addition, consumers and MSMBs will be able to make and receive digital payments for things like accessing social benefits, remittances (including person-to-person), point-of-sale purchases, access to small business financing, and more.
 “Desarrollo: Centro Latinoamericano De Innovacion y Emprendimiento: San Pedro.” Celiem, https://www.celiem.org/.
 “Latin American Women Must Be at the Center of the Post-COVID Recovery.” World Bank Blogs, https://blogs.worldbank.org/latinamerica/latin-american-women-must-be-center-post-covid-recovery.