On July 22, Mastercard announced that it will join the Regional Alliance for the Digitalization of Women in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), a regional multi-stakeholder partnership under the leadership the Ministry of Women and Gender Equality of Chile, supported by Mexico, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Panama, ECLAC, UN Women, and Microsoft. This Alliance will promote collective actions to close the gender gaps in access to skills development for, and use of digital technologies by, women in the region. Specifically, Mastercard will support the implementation of a collaborative virtual platform where entrepreneurs and women interested in the technology and innovation sector in LAC can access training in digital skills, a networking space, and economic opportunities. To further support this Alliance, Mastercard will collaborate with the company Superdigital to deliver specialized solutions and products that will support the personal and economic growth of women entrepreneurs.
The pandemic brought about radical change in the way we work, shop, socialize and interact. With that shift, our digital dependency became even greater. For millions of women today, digital inclusion is a critical step in strengthening their economic potential. Specifically, many entrepreneurs are stuck in the informal sector, unable to grow, which reduces their earning potential and size. In addition, many women entrepreneurs face significant challenges, including lower levels of financial education, fewer women role models, lack of support networks and lack of capital and assets.
“As we emerge out of the first global pandemic in the digital age, we already see a different era,” said Kiki del Valle, executive vice president of Market Development in Latin America and the Caribbean at Mastercard. “In a year when the health and economic implications of COVID-19 were felt by so many, women specifically have been disproportionally impacted. Our collaboration within the Alliance represents our joint effort to provide youths and women entrepreneurs with the knowledge and skills needed to work in the 21st century. If we work together, stay focused and transparent about our progress, we can change the world.”
Mastercard’s partnership within the Regional Alliance for the Digitalization of Women in Latin America and the Caribbean builds on Mastercard’s global commitment to include One Billion in the digital economy, including a direct focus on providing 25 million women entrepreneurs with solutions to grow their businesses.
Mastercard’s commitments to the Alliance include:
- Mastercard Financial Education Toolkit (“MFET”): Knowledge of financial tools can help people make the leap across the digital divide. Mastercard will provide free access to financial education materials to help women-owned micro and small businesses effectively manage their finances and grow their business. The MFET offers an intuitive financial education solution through curated lessons, personalized content, and gamification, with the goal of promoting sustainable financial health.
- Digital Entrepreneurship Program: Now more than ever, having a digital presence is critical. Mastercard will offer the expertise of its Digital Allies to encourage the digital transition of small businesses in the region. With technological allies in several countries, the resources will help small businesses start or strengthen their digital business strategies. Alongside these tools, the “LEADS Mujer” virtual accelerator will be made available to support the skills and business growth of women-led SMEs.
- Marketplace enablement: Mastercard will support the development of a marketplace through its partnerships with banks and technology companies that are part of its “Start Path” program. The main goal is to facilitate women-owned micro and small businesses to create their online/digital presence and be able to trade in the e-commerce environment.
- Access to payment tools: In the move to digital, accepting digital payments online is key to an improved customer experience. Through Mastercard’s partnership with Superdigital and other financial institution partners of Mastercard, women-owned micro and small businesses will be offered the tools and solutions to help enable safe, secure, digital payments.
“The pandemic has had a dramatic effect in accelerating the digital transformation of the economy and all aspects of our lives, making technology essential. This has evidenced the multiple gaps that women face in accessing, using, and creating technology,” said the Minister of Women and Gender Equality of Chile, Mónica Zalaquett. “We cannot allow the preexisting digital gender divide to increase further. We must take this unique opportunity to promote actions that drive a more inclusive digital transformation. With this goal, we launched the Regional Alliance for the Digitalization of Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, which will bring multiple stakeholders together to tackle the challenge of closing the digital gender gap in our region and enable women to play a leading role in the digital revolution,” added Ms. Zalaquett.
“This alliance is directly linked to Superdigital’s mission. We believe that everyone, regardless of gender, race or social class, has the right to access the possibilities of the digital world and the financial products that enable economic inclusion,” comments Leopoldo Martinez, Superdigital’s global CEO. “The inequality of economic opportunities between men and women is still evident in Latin America, and we believe that we can support this segment through simple access and knowledge of the digital financial universe, as well as supporting the entry to the labor markets, the chance to become an entrepreneur, the growth of financial independence and to see ambitions realized,” adds the executive.
Increasing women’s access to digital tools and resources is a critical means to unlocking their prosperity both in their business and personal lives. Mastercard is pushing its networks further, forging ambitious partnerships that are transforming the way our world works. This initiative builds on Mastercard’s ongoing global and regional efforts to address the gender gaps and economic challenges faced by individuals. Five years ago, Mastercard created its award-winning Girls4Tech program to inspire young girls to build STEM skills that will help them become future leaders in the field. In addition, last year the company united technology leaders in Latin America, to launch the Tech for Good Partnership a first-of-its-kind private sector agreement to accelerate digital and financial inclusion in the region. Together, its partners pledge to use their resources, assets, and expertise to prioritize digital and financial inclusion efforts in the wake of the pandemic.