Mastercard (No. 7 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list) and George Soros announced plans to explore creating a social enterprise to apply commercial strategies to deliver a positive impact on society. Called Humanity Ventures, the enterprise could catalyze and accelerate economic and social development for vulnerable communities around the world, especially refugees and migrants.
Pervasive joblessness, lack of access to healthcare, inadequate education, and financial exclusion afflict people in both developed and emerging economies. Despite billions of dollars of humanitarian and development assistance every year, millions of people remain marginalized. Mastercard and George Soros believe that private sector capabilities coupled with strategic, long-term investments can spur development and transform life for the underserved.
Last September, George Soros announced that he is earmarking up to $500 million for private investments that will improve capacity to address the challenges that migrants, including refugees, and their host communities face around the world. Humanity Ventures would be part of that initiative.
Mastercard delivers innovative payments, data, and identity solutions which empower the underserved all over the world. These tools improve the lives of refugees and migrants by forging better economic and social ties with local populations.
Operating as a standalone entity, Humanity Ventures would initially combine solutions designed to expand access to healthcare and education, foster local economic development and entrepreneurship, and enhance the delivery of aid. One such solution is the Mastercard Aid Network, an award winning digital voucher platform designed in partnership with humanitarian organizations.
With the creation of Humanity Ventures, Soros could invest up to $50 million to make these solutions even more scalable and sustainable. The social enterprise could also serve as an incubator and accelerator for smaller projects committed to mitigating the migration crisis.
Designed to combine the need for business returns with social impact, Humanity Ventures would also act as a new model for how civil society, governments, and the private sector improve quality of life and drive economic growth.
“Over several years, we’ve applied our thinking and technology to help hundreds of millions connect to the formal economy and to help empower safer and more efficient aid distribution,” said Ajay Banga, president and CEO of Mastercard. “We can have transformational impact by scaling our business-driven organization to leverage innovation, on-the-ground experience and long-term capital investments.”
“Migrants are often forced into lives of despair in their host communities because they cannot gain access to financial, healthcare and government services. Our potential investment in this social enterprise, coupled with Mastercard’s ability to create products that serve vulnerable communities, can show how private capital can play a constructive role in solving social problems,” said George Soros. “Humanity Ventures is intended to be profitable so as to stimulate involvement from other businesspeople. We also hope to establish standards of practice to ensure that investments are not exploitative of the vulnerable communities we intend to serve.”