It noted that access to credit, data, training and digital tools are among the key challenges for SMEs, further compounded by infrastructure limitations and power supply interruptions in some MEA markets.
As research increasingly points to offering choice, SMEs must adapt to a growing hybrid environment with a demand for ecommerce and new payment options.
“The challenges that small and medium businesses continue to experience as a result of COVID-19 are significant, and we remain firmly committed to supporting them in both recovering and, in due time, thriving. We have an important role to play, providing the necessary digital skills for startups and small businesses to survive, recover and deliver results online and offline. We are continuing those training efforts in partnership with Mastercard, helping further boost a burgeoning start-up ecosystem to positively impact socio-economic growth across the region,” said Derya Matras, Vice President, Middle East, Africa & Turkey, Meta.
“Small businesses form the backbone of local communities, driving growth of the global economy. The SME segment was highly impacted during the pandemic due to the lack of scale and access to capital. This is a critical time for entrepreneurs and small business owners to have that access to the right resources, insights, tools and solutions to recover from the impact of the pandemic and thrive. Our partnership with Meta will help support SME growth in the region,” commented Amnah Ajmal, Executive Vice President, Market Development, Middle East and Africa, Mastercard.
Although challenges related to the pandemic remain, small businesses in the Middle East & Africa are reclaiming confidence. The recent 2021 Mastercard MEA SME Confidence Index found 74% of SMEs in the region are optimistic about future growth, guided by the potential for digitalization, better data, access to credit and upskilling.
Through technology services, cyber assessments, insights, grants, digital training, mentoring platforms and knowledge initiatives, Mastercard will contribute $250 million over five years to support small businesses’ financial security globally. As part of its goal to build a more sustainable and inclusive world, Mastercard has committed to connect 50 million small businesses, including 25 million women entrepreneurs globally, to the digital economy by 2025.
For years Mastercard has been focused on moving businesses at the margins to digital growth in the mainstream. Mastercard’s extensive experience with financial inclusion, and its commitment to include 1 billion people by 2025, makes the company uniquely suited to lead at this critical inflection point.