Mastercard commits to female-led Malaysian MSEs

A new program from Mastercard has launched in Malaysia to support the growth and digitalisation of over 100,000 micro and small enterprises (MSEs), focusing on those that are female owned and led.

Working with the Asia Foundation, Mastercard Strive Malaysia will work to satisfy the needs of Malaysian small businesses by helping them access necessary tools, networks and resources while also boosting the existing business ecosystem.

Malaysia is the second Southeast Asian country to launch the Mastercard Strive program and follows recent investments from Mastercard to develop the nation’s future in digital transformation. The initiative is also supported by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.

“Strive Malaysia is a timely offer that will bolster our MSEs,” Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, Minister of Higher Education for Malaysia, said.

“The Ministry is delighted to partner with Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and the Asia Foundation to open the doors of our 105-strong network of community colleges to reach Strive digital tools and resources to MSMEs at their doorstep and in their local communities.”

MSEs account for over 97 per cent of businesses in Malaysia, employ over seven million people and produce over half of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). However, a recent survey conducted by World Bank found only 54 per cent of Malaysia MSEs use digital solutions and only 58 per cent have digitised payment systems. This discrepancy increases for female-led businesses that experience further obstacles to accessing technology and financing, which reduces business growth.

This was also affirmed by a study from the International Labor Organization, which found that Malaysian female business owners and leaders generally “lacked awareness and information on financial products and services available, had limited capital or did not know how to apply to access financial services. This comes as one in five MSEs are led by women.

“Mastercard is committed to supporting inclusive economic growth in Malaysia by enabling MSEs to address the roadblocks to digitalisation and access the tools, skills, and resources they need to become an engine of this growth,” Safdar Khan, Division President, Southeast Asia at Mastercard said.

“Strive Malaysia will work to unleash the resilience and growth of Malaysian small businesses, enabling women entrepreneurs to break through systemic barriers so they can benefit from the digital economy,” Subhashini Chandran, Vice President, Social Impact, Asia Pacific at the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, said.