Mastercard and Unilever Join Forces to Empower Small and Micro Businesses in Emerging Markets

Aiming to advance inclusive growth through digital technology and insights

During the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos, Her Majesty Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, UN Secretary-General's Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (center) witnessed Ajay Banga, president and CEO of Mastercard (left), and Paul Polman, Chief Executive of Unilever (right), signing a strategic partnership designed to advance financial inclusion efforts by empowering small and micro businesses in emerging markets. (Photo: Business Wire)

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BARCELONA, Spain--()--At Mobile World Congress, Mastercard and Unilever today announced a strategic partnership to collaborate on a range of joint initiatives aimed at empowering small and micro businesses in emerging markets. By combining their expertise and reach, the companies intend to unlock economic growth and further advance specific Sustainable Development Goals such as poverty reduction and sustainable cities and communities.

According to the World Bank, there are somewhere between 365 and 445 million micro-, small and medium enterprises in the developing world, representing the economic backbone of many local communities. Yet, the true potential for these businesses remains untapped. Some of the biggest barriers for their further growth include limited market information, poor access to money, and a lack of financial management skills.

Matching Unilever distribution network with digital payments from Mastercard

By matching up Unilever’s network of distributors in developing countries with digital payment and acceptance solutions from Mastercard, technology resources will be activated to drive inclusive growth at greater scale.

As a first step, Mastercard and Unilever will explore ways to enable better access to formal financial tools for smaller retail outlets while also building entrepreneurship capacity, particularly for women and girls. Additional focus areas may include joint efforts to increase the usage of electronic payments across both wholesale and retail locations.

“Too many small merchants and micro entrepreneurs are stuck, like their customers, in a cash economy that doesn’t work for them,” said Ajay Banga, president and CEO, Mastercard. “With Unilever, we can bring a unique combination of technology and know-how to help these shop owners build a better future and serve their customers who are themselves on a path towards financial inclusion.”

Paul Polman, Chief Executive, Unilever added: “Strategic partnerships such as this are critical to helping us improve our business and positively impact the lives of 5.5 million people by 2020. By working together, we can have a much greater impact in emerging markets, empowering small scale enterprises and bringing about the transformative change necessary to meet the aims of the Sustainable Development Goals and our business.”

First pilot project in Kenya

In Kenya, the companies are jointly designing a program to enable sustainable growth of small retail entrepreneurs. By digitizing the processes of buying supplies and selling goods small vendors will gain access to low-interest credit. This will empower them to better answer shopper demand and grow their business while upskilling themselves through basic insight tools.

Download our Mobile World Congress 2017 app or find a complete list of Mastercard news announcements in our Digital Press Kit. Check out our Periodic Table of Payments to brush up on your payments knowledge. Follow us @MastercardNews or by using the hashtag #MWC17 to join the conversation.

About Mastercard

Mastercard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MastercardNews, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau.

About Unilever

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Food, Home Care, Personal Care and Refreshment products with sales in over 190 countries and reaching 2 billion consumers a day. It has 169,000 employees and generated sales of €52.7 billion in 2016. Over half of the company’s footprint is in developing and emerging markets. Unilever has more than 400 brands found in homes around the world, including Persil, Dove, Knorr, Domestos, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Wall’s, PG Tips, Ben & Jerry’s, Magnum and Lynx.

Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan commits to:

  • Helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being by 2020.
  • Halving the environmental impact of our products by 2030.
  • Enhancing the livelihoods of millions of people by 2020.

Unilever was ranked number one in its sector in the 2016 Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In the FTSE4Good Index, it achieved the highest environmental score of 5. It led the list of Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders in the 2016 GlobeScan/SustainAbility annual survey for the sixth year running. Unilever was ranked the most sustainable food and beverage company in Oxfam’s Behind the Brands Scorecard in 2016 for the second year.

For more information about Unilever and its brands, please visit www.unilever.com. For more information on the USLP: www.unilever.com/sustainable-living/

Contacts

Mastercard Communications
Bernhard Mors, + 1 914-325-9676
bernhard.mors@mastercard.com
or
Unilever Communications
Laura Misselbrook, + 44 7825 049 163
laura.misselbrook@unilever.com

Release Summary

Mastercard and Unilever announced a strategic partnership to collaborate on a range of joint initiatives aimed at empowering small and micro businesses in emerging markets.

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Contacts

Mastercard Communications
Bernhard Mors, + 1 914-325-9676
bernhard.mors@mastercard.com
or
Unilever Communications
Laura Misselbrook, + 44 7825 049 163
laura.misselbrook@unilever.com