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Mastercard Strive Awards $2 Million to SMB-Focused Organizations

Mastercard building

Mastercard’s Strive fund has awarded nearly $2 million in grants to organizations that support small businesses. 

The Strive Innovation Fund will support 11 organizations around the world, including those focused “on innovative digital solutions that support small businesses’ growth in environmental sustainability and data for market access,” Mastercard said in a news release Tuesday (Dec. 5).

According to the release, these organizations include four in the U.S. that focus on boosting ideas to bolster the small business ecosystem via digital and data-first approaches. 

“Every day, digital advances are creating new opportunities for small business growth and resilience,” said Shamina Singh, founder and president of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. “Mastercard Strive helps provide the necessary funding to develop and scale ideas and solutions that meet the needs of small businesses today and for the future.”

Among the recipients of this year’s grants is Aeris Insight, which helps speed the flow of funds to community development finance institutions (CDFIs) providing financial services to underserved small businesses and communities in the U.S. 

Also getting funding are Scale Link and LoanWell, which are developing a common interface to facilitate lending to small businesses.

The latest round of Strive awards — which launched in 2021 — is happening at a time when access to credit remains a significant challenge for many small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Recent data shows that just 47% of SMBs that generate yearly revenues of $10 million or less had access to business or personal financing as of July of this year. 

“This lack of financing availability varies across different market sectors, as noted in the ‘What’s Next in Credit: Why SMBs Prefer Corporate Credit Cards for Short-Term Financing’ report, with professional services and personal and consumer services sectors being less likely to have access to financing,” PYMNTS wrote last month. “On the other hand, the construction or utilities industry and hospitality sector have relatively higher access to financing.”

Against this backdrop, many SMBs are making changes, PYMNTS Intelligence has found, including switching to new payment processors. When weighing this sort of switch, the key factor is transaction fees, which affect 59% of Main Street SMBs. 

“These results open the door for players to acquire new customers if they can offer more aggressive pricing policies and ensure quality service,” PYMNTS wrote in October.

“But price is not everything. Main Street SMB clients also value other features when choosing a payment processor,” PYMNTS reported. “For example, 54% look at fraud detection and prevention, and construction players and retailers that have been in business for less than five years are the most interested in such features.”