Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth President Shamina Singh joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the company’s commitment to women-owned small businesses and discusses some of the challenges small business owners face.
RACHELLE AKUFFO: Mastercard is doubling down on its commitment to financial inclusion. Announcing that it’s already reached its 2025 goal of providing 25 million female entrepreneurs with solutions to help grow their businesses. Shamina Singh, Mastercard center for inclusive growth president, joins us now. Great to see you again, Shamina. So–
SHAMINA SINGH: Nice to see you, Rachelle.
RACHELLE AKUFFO: –talk about these landmarks. Very good to see you. Talk about this landmark that was reached because this wasn’t supposed to get– this landmark wasn’t supposed to hit until 2025.
SHAMINA SINGH: Well, we’re really fortunate that we like many people, didn’t know that the pandemic was coming, but we prepared in advance. And it happened to be in the right place at the right time to ensure that women entrepreneurs, women small business owners, received the support they needed to not only open some small businesses but grow them. And get through the pandemic and then come out even stronger than before. So we’re really proud of the achievement but really grateful that we were able to provide those kinds of resources to the amazing women who need them.
RACHELLE AKUFFO: And so in terms of the stories that stand out when you think about the impact, the economic impact that this can have for these women and the broader community, what sort of stories stand out for you?
SHAMINA SINGH: Well, it’s really– the way I think about it is when you invest in women entrepreneurs, think about it as they pay it back and they pay it forward. They pay it back because their loan repayment rates are over 90% normally for the size and the amount of loans that they are taking. So they’re really big risks because they paid the loan back, and they pay it forward.
What we also know is that when you invest in a woman entrepreneur, she pays it forward to her family, to her community, to all of the things that surround her and her small business. So the impact of investing in a woman entrepreneur is double, triple, quadruple what you get when you invest in a single entrepreneur.
RACHELLE AKUFFO: And I want to ask you because, obviously, we’re in an era of tighter lending conditions. And I know that it’s a philanthropic side, but it’s also a corporate side and really a partnership here. Have you seen any sort of pullback or perhaps more strategic investments in this space?
SHAMINA SINGH: Yeah, it’s interesting because– and that’s why I think it’s important to say that it is a combination of commercial and philanthropic activity coming out of Mastercard. Because, again, during this time of transition, we have to make sure that we’re using every tool and lever at our disposal to ensure that women small business owners and all small business owners come out of this transition period on the other side.
And so for the commercial side, we have a whole set of solutions. From the philanthropic side, we have a whole set of enabling solutions. But the point is that as the economic conditions change and as we see the loan terms change, we have to make sure we’re doing everything we can.
And that also means, Rachelle, that we have to think about lending to women sometimes differently. The notions of credit or collateral are different for some women than they are for other borrowers because sometimes they don’t have the same types of assets that their male counterparts have. And so that’s another creative way and an innovative way that we’re looking at partnering with women entrepreneurs.
RACHELLE AKUFFO: And one thing that you focus on is an inclusive digital economy. What does that mean now in 2023? Especially when you factor in things like AI and how that’s really making sort of a borderless economy when it comes to being inclusive.
SHAMINA SINGH: Yeah, I mean, you know, Rachelle, in some respects, digitization, and digitalization for small business owners, it really has to be table stakes. And so, again, before the pandemic, we saw really good adoption of digital processes.
During the pandemic, I think it became quite clear that if you weren’t able to digitize if you weren’t able to operate in a way that allowed you to meet your customers, sometimes remotely, to offer remote payments in a safe and secure environment, you were going to have a really tough time surviving the pandemic. And we’ve seen that knock-on effect even today that the minimum is digitization of processes and resources. And that’s, actually, one of our — the cornerstones of our strive program globally.
We have a strive, small business signature initiative, where we focus on getting capital that we talked about earlier. Going digital, which is table stakes now, but really making sure that we adapt to the new technologies. And growing your networks and know-how. So we have to think of three parts of the stool to support all small businesses but look at them intricately and differently to make sure that we’re adapting to the needs of women small business owners.
RACHELLE AKUFFO: And so when you look at some things like recession fears that are coming up, sort of another potential shake up for some of these small businesses that maybe would like to hire but aren’t able to find people. And would like more funding but perhaps aren’t able to get it. How are you preparing them in terms of the resources available that they can use?
SHAMINA SINGH: Well, I’d love for any small business owner and for any organization that works with small businesses to really make sure that in the United States, they’re working with CDFIs. And those are Community Development Finance Institutions that are mission led and very close to the small business community. In the sense that sometimes they act as a bridge between banks and the small business owners.
So that if you are in an environment where you need that extra help, you need the time and attention it takes to get that first loan, the CDFI community, the CDFI space in the United States, and the microfinance institution community outside of the United States are really great places to go.
I’ll just give you an example. In the United States, we work with Grameen America. We also work with the Community Reinvestment Fund. We work with Momentus Capital.
When we work with those organizations, and I would encourage you to look at those organizations, they ensure that not only are they providing the training and the wraparound support and services and the accountability but also access to the capital that the small business owner needs. So especially for women, I would definitely advise you to have a look at Grameen America if you’re in the United States and make sure that you connect with the fabulous work that they’re doing.
RACHELLE AKUFFO: Well, I do appreciate you especially laying out the resources because sometimes a lot of people just really don’t know where to start and where to find them. Thank you so much, and congratulations on that milestone there. Shamina Singh, Mastercard Center for inclusive growth president. Thank you for joining us this morning.
SHAMINA SINGH: thank you