Mastercard and Unilever Break Down Barriers to Growth for Micro Entrepreneurs with First-of-its-Kind Digital Lending Platform

May 01, 2018

Successful pilot in Kenya – CEOs urge other companies to join initiative

Mastercard and Unilever today announced that they will expand their strategic partnership to help micro entrepreneurs in Africa and other regions overcome the cash constraints that limit their ability to buy and sell more products and ultimately grow their businesses.

In Kenya, the two companies have launched Jaza Duka (“fill up your store”). The initiative combines distribution data from Unilever and analysis by Mastercard, on how much inventory a store has bought from Unilever over time. The results from the analysis are used to provide a micro-credit eligibility recommendation to Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB).  This solves for the problem that banks usually require formal credit history or collateral, resulting in entrepreneurs borrowing from informal lenders at high interest rates and trapping them in a cycle of debt.

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If the micro-credit line from KCB is approved, the store owner is able to increase their purchases of product from what they can buy with cash on hand to what they can actually sell. For example, if a store is consistently showing weekly purchases of $50 from Unilever they could qualify for an interest-free credit line of $120 to stock their inventory.  The credit line from KCB is provided through a secure Mastercard digital payment solution.

As part of the micro-credit, the partners are providing the store owners with training to help them manage their finances, inventory and forward planning for supply against demand. The entrepreneurs are also being trained on marketing tools and techniques to help sell their products and subsequently increase their opportunity to grow faster. Local communities can also benefit from having quicker, more reliable access to the products they need most to support their families.

By the end of April, more than 5,000 kiosk owners in the wider Nairobi area had applied to join the program – all are expected to be fully enrolled by mid-May. Stores that fully moved to the new platform have grown their sales of Unilever products by up to 20 percent.

“Micro and small businesses are the economic backbone of communities around the world,” commented Ajay Banga, president and CEO, Mastercard. “There’s an opportunity to set these businesses up for long-term growth by bringing together the tools and data from different industries to change the model of small business financing. We invite other companies and private sector leaders to join us in this collaborative approach and create a true network effect that will bring down barriers and trigger change.”

“Financial inclusion is a key enabler of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals – lifting individuals out of poverty and supporting overall economic growth. By broadening our collaboration with Mastercard, working across sectors and including additional private and public partners, we are further expanding the positive impact of financial and economic inclusion” said Paul Polman, chief executive, Unilever.

Over time, the payment history from shopkeepers’ participation in Jaza Duka can pave the way for these business owners to access other financial services, including small business loans.

In order to further scale this model, Mastercard and Unilever jointly commit to a number of actions:

    • The companies have set a target to provide 20,000 kiosks in Kenya with a digitally managed credit solution by end of the year. These efforts are expected to extend to additional markets across Africa and Asia Pacific.
    • To ensure responsible use of credit, the Center for Inclusive Growth – a Mastercard philanthropic initiative – will work with TechnoServe to provide micro-entrepreneurs with training on financial and business skills.

 

The CEOs of the two companies invite other financial institutions and complementary consumer packaged goods suppliers to join the initiative to help fuel micro and small business growth across the world.

Note to editors:

KCB Group CEO and MD Joshua Oigara comments on the announcement: “We see this partnership as a big plus in boosting our role as catalysts of trade and doing business in East Africa. This is part of our commitment to simplify and transform the lives of our customers to enable their progress. The retailers can now access their credit using their mobile phones without the need to issue physical plastic cards. Following a successful deployment in Kenya, we will be rolling out the same to the regional markets we are in as we support the growth of value chains, small, medium and micro enterprises.”


 

Media Contacts

Caroline Niven, Mastercard
+1 914 707 9859 | caroline.niven@mastercard.com
Helen Dodd, Unilever

About Unilever

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, and Foods & Refreshment products with sales in over 190 countries and reaching 2.5 billion consumers a day. It has 161,000 employees and generated sales of €53.7 billion in 2017. Over half (57%) of the company’s footprint is in developing and emerging markets. Unilever has more than 400 brands found in homes all over the world, including Persil, Dove, Knorr, Domestos, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Wall’s, PG Tips, Ben & Jerry’s, Magnum and Lynx.

Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) underpins the company’s strategy and commits to:

  • Helping more than a billion people take actionto improve their health and well-being by 2020
  • Halving the environmental impact of our products by 2030
  • Enhancing the livelihoods of millions of people by 2020

Unilever was ranked number one in its sector in the 2017 Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In the FTSE4Good Index, it achieved the highest environmental score of 5. It led the list of Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders in the 2017 GlobeScan/SustainAbility annual survey for the seventh year running, and achieved four A ratings across Climate Change, Water, Forests and Supplier Engagement in CDP's 2018 Global Supply Chain report. Unilever has pledged to become carbon positive in its operations by 2030, and to ensure 100% of its plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. For more information about Unilever and its brands, please visit www.unilever.com. For more information on the USLP: www.unilever.com/sustainable-living/

About Mastercard (NYSE: MA)

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. Our decency quotient, or DQ, drives our culture and everything we do inside and outside of our company. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.

www.mastercard.com