MasterCard & Mercy Corps Program Sees an Average 218% Increase in Participant Knowledge of Key Business and Financial Concepts

Tweet this: News: #MasterCard adds US$25,000 to train #women entrepreneurs in rural #Myanmar http://bit.ly/18UnVlm

Singapore, 5 November, 2013 – Women entrepreneurs will benefit from new funding to support business literacy initiatives in rural Myanmar, MasterCard announced today.

The additional US$25,000 in funding from MasterCard will go towards the expansion of the business literacy program with Mercy Corps called Business and Financial Literacy for Success. The program educates small farmers and households on basic business skills and money management practices. The grant will allow Mercy Corps to provide the second phase of training, which will include in-depth and targeted business advisory services, mentoring and links to financing to help 500 women entrepreneurs in the delta region start or expand their businesses.

“This partnership between MasterCard and Mercy Corps has already seen more than 1,200 farmers and entrepreneurs, the latter of whom are mainly women, benefit from the first phase of the Mercy Corps training. Providing training in fundamental business skills such as bookkeeping and budgeting, promotions and customer service directly benefits the participants not only by helping them improve their business performance but also in achieving their goal of supporting their families and communities. In extending MasterCard’s support for the program, we hope to continue to encourage financial inclusion through entrepreneurship, something we are deeply committed to,” said Matthew Driver, Southeast Asia president, MasterCard.

The first phase of the program that launched in March this year educated small farmers, small business owners and entrepreneurs (80% of them women) across 30 villages on basic business skills and money management practices. The program saw impressive results with an average increase of 218% in participant knowledge of key business and financial concepts.

Mercy Corps 1One of the women who benefited from the program is Khin Mar Swe, a 42-year old widow with four children from Kyu Taw village. She initially ran a small grocery business selling various dried food, oil, and onions but closed shop after facing low demand. In February 2013, Khin Mar Swe participated in the Mercy Corps business and financial literacy training funded by MasterCard. Through a range of different practical scenarios, she and other participants learned about the importance of customer service. “From this training, I got inspiration about what I needed to do to re-establish and promote my own business in the community. As a result, I re-opened my small grocery business in May 2013. Although I’m still selling the same type of items, I have been applying some of the new skills I learned during the training, such as bookkeeping, improved customer service, and building relationships with customers.”

Mercy Corps 2Another participant who benefited from the program is Phone Hla. After receiving training from MasterCard and Mercy Corps in small business management and financial literacy, Phone Hla (54 years old with six children from Kyu Taw village) got an idea to start a fish and nut business. “Most farmers in Myanmar don’t do bookkeeping,” Phone Hla said. “But since the training, I have applied these skills practically and have seen the benefits in my own business. In the training I learned about various costs and benefits of starting a business. I also became aware of the importance of negotiation when doing business transactions. Sometimes the price of the fish changes and I have to adjust my prices to account for the change. On average, I sell 8 kg of fish per day for a total of 30,000 kyats (US$30) in sales.”

The curriculum for the program was adapted from Mercy Corps’ existing courses currently in use in other Asian countries. The training included basic business and financial literacy topics including marketing, market assessment skills, cash-flow analysis, petty cash management, book keeping and basic accounting.

In phase two, the program will focus on business plan development with the goal of increasing economic returns for these entrepreneur and farmers. It will involve targeted coaching, in-depth small group training and advisory services, not to mention connecting these women entrepreneurs with financial service providers and other resources and offer guidance on all areas which are critical to business growth and success.

“The Delta is one of Myanmar’s most fertile agricultural regions, but small-holder farmers and their families face tremendous challenges due to climate variability, salt water intrusion and poor access to markets, information and agricultural technology,” says Nilan Fernando, Myanmar country director for Mercy Corps. “The entrepreneurs in this program are highly motivated to start and grow their own businesses because the added income improves the health and well-being of their families, and increases the productivity and resilience of communities across the region.”

For more than seven years, Mercy Corps has been working with farmers by providing agricultural training, tools and seeds, which has allowed them to grow their own food and sell the excess for supplemental income. The MasterCard-funded program is an important addition to the existing work being done by Mercy Corps in the Delta, and will enable the agency to gain practical insights into how this type of business and financial literacy program might be replicated in other parts of the country and beyond.

The End

About Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is a leading global humanitarian agency saving and improving lives in the world’s toughest places. With a network of experienced professionals in more than 40 countries, we partner with local communities to put bold ideas into action to help people recover, overcome hardship and build better lives. For more information, visit mercycorps.org.

About MasterCard

MasterCard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard’s products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MasterCardNewsjoin the discussion on the Cashless Pioneers Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau.

About CSR at MasterCard

MasterCard believes all people should have an opportunity to participate in the global economy. However, millions of people around the world lack access to the most basic financial tools. They don’t have secure places to save money, reliable ways to transfer it, or safe ways to transport it. Our payment innovations, such as prepaid and mobile solutions, as well as our philanthropic and consumer education programs, bring the benefit of finance to the unbanked and underbanked, helping them build a stronger future for themselves, their families and their communities.

Contacts:

Georgette Tan, MasterCard, georgette_tan@mastercard.com, +65 6390 5971

Alina Morais, Weber Shandwick, amorais@webershandwick.com, +65 6825 8203

# # #