Mastercard and Grab, the Singapore-based super app, announced Tuesday the “Small Business, Big Dreams” regional program to digitally upskill gig economy workers and small businesses in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

Both parties said in a statement the collaboration is part of Strive Community, a global philanthropic initiative developed by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and Caribou Digital.

According to them, Strive Community aims to support the resilience and growth of five million small businesses around the world.

The “Small Business, Big Dreams” regional program includes the launch of two online business courses for Grab’s driver and delivery-partners aspiring to start new businesses, and small business owners seeking to grow in a competitive digital economy.

It aims to enable small businesses to reach their full potential by supporting them to digitize their operations, unlock their access to financial services and more effectively participate in the digital economy.

“Many Southeast Asians working in the informal sector aspire for more, but the reality is that a lot of them do not have the means or the opportunity to access quality training programs,” said Cheryl Goh, Group Head of Marketing and Sustainability, Grab.

“Through our partnership with the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, we hope to give gig workers and small businesses a boost to get started,

“Our ‘Small Business, Big Dreams’ program will equip them with business knowledge and practical skills through a structured learning journey tailored to their needs and interest areas,” she added.

Payal Dalal, Senior Vice President of Social Impact, International Markets, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, said
the digital economy offers a range of possibilities and opportunities that can help businesses of all sizes be more resilient and grow.

“Mastercard is delighted to work with Grab on this initiative that will boost digital capacity and inclusion among aspiring entrepreneurs and small businesses post-pandemic,” she said.

“Mastercard has globally committed to bring a total of 1 billion people and 50 million micro and small businesses into the digital economy by 2025,

“Today’s announcement follows on the success of Mastercard Academy 2.0 in Indonesia, Business Cell in Philippines, and BSR’s HER Project Digital Wage in Cambodia, and Care Ignite in Vietnam, which have empowered millions of small businesses to access technology, training, mentorship, and financial services,” she added.

According to the statement, small businesses play a vital role in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, contributing up to 60 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of these economies.

Despite 80-90 percent of small- and medium-sized enterprises in Southeast Asia losing income due to COVID-19 lockdowns1, many were able to skirt this hit by going digital, with online businesses’ profits rebounding more quickly.

This resilience is what this micro-learning program seeks to bring to an abundance of small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs across the region.

The two new online courses, namely the Driver Entrepreneurship Toolkit and the Small Business Toolkit, were created based on survey insights from over 34,000 driver-partners and 600 small businesses in the region.

Although almost all small businesses surveyed use smartphones for their businesses, 42 percent still rely solely on paper and pen to manage their businesses.

Mastercard and Grab have also engaged leading local small business experts, such as Tumbu, WISE, and Bayan Academy, to jointly develop the online courses.

The courses, which comprise 20 short video lessons each, provide practical steps to address the challenges frequently faced by small businesses and first-time entrepreneurs.

It also features powerful and relevant insights from local industry experts and peer business owners, a preferred learning format by surveyed driver-partners and small business owners.

Grab targets group adjusted EBITDA breakeven by second half of 2024