It’s not every day that a CEO and CFO talk about investing millions of dollars into a part of the business that doesn’t generate direct profits. But that’s exactly what we did when we took advantage of the recent U.S. tax reform to make a focused investment – half a billion dollars – into our Center for Inclusive Growth.
When Ajay and I were honored last week with a CECP Force for Good award, it was not only a recognition of our efforts, but of the importance of both the CEO and CFO thinking differently about investing for good.
Our decision to invest in the Center wasn’t met with a lot of hand-wringing or fraught discussions. In fact, it felt like we’ve been preparing for this for a long time. Mastercard has a long history of thinking about how we can do well AND do good in the world. It started more than 10 years ago with our IPO when we established the Mastercard Foundation with 10% of the company’s stock.
It’s continued with our financial inclusion efforts to lift billions of people around the world trapped in poverty by connecting them to the opportunities most of us take for granted – paying for the things they need, safely sending or receiving money, or investing in their futures.
We’ve done this through more than 1,300 programs touching 360 million people across 60 countries. One clear example is our work in Tanzania where the 2Kuze mobile platform, developed by our Nairobi innovation lab, is helping small farmers sell and get paid for their produce crops more easily.
This is just a starting point. Our real goal is to move people and markets from poverty to prosperity through inclusive growth. The Center for Inclusive Growth is driving research to help solve social problems, retraining workers for jobs of the future, and enabling micro-entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.
Inclusive growth is a long-term proposition. It’s not going to happen overnight. But, it is central to our strategy and how we think about the investments that are critical to our future. It creates a foundation for other programs, products and services by connecting with future consumers, helping them to easily pay and get paid and participate in the broader economy.
We are already partnering with a number of other companies who have a similar view. Even with these efforts, there’s still much work to be done. Let me be clear, we know there’s no long-term without the short-term. In order to protect those long-term investments, we still have to put points on the board, like every good publicly-traded company – there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. But we are in this for the long haul. It’s not about charity or philanthropy. It’s good business.