MasterCard today announced the launch of the MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth.
The Center will conduct and support academic research and provide strategic philanthropic investments that further sustainable and equitable economic growth and financial inclusion around the world.
More than a billion people live in extreme poverty, and 2.5 billion adults lack access to formal financial services. While progress is being made, inclusive growth can be the difference, especially for emerging markets, between a volatile economy and one that's sustainable and sensible in its growth over time.
"MasterCard is launching the Center to provide a focus on delivering the research and philanthropic investments necessary to advance inclusive growth," said Walt Macnee, Vice Chairman of MasterCard. "With more people from more countries participating in the global economy than even before, MasterCard believes that inclusive growth is key for economic and social progress."
Recognizing that timely, high-quality and relevant information is critical to sound decision-making, the Center will work with government agencies, academic institutions, non-profits, foundations and private corporations to create and curate relevant knowledge assets and convene a global knowledge network.
As a first step, the Center has created an Academic Advisory Council comprised of thought leaders and innovative thinkers on economic growth and financial inclusion from around the world. Serving as Senior Fellows, they provide strategic counsel and inform the Center's annual research agenda. The Center's Senior Fellows include:
"The Center's Senior Fellows bring independent perspectives on the global economy and globalization, and insights on the key issues and challenges in advancing inclusive growth and prosperity," said Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, Global Economic Advisor to MasterCard and Chair of the Academic Advisory Council. "Through the Center, we will be able to unlock these inble to unlock these insights and publish the findings in an open-source environment as catalysts for action."
The Center will also focus MasterCard's strategic philanthropic investments on programs and initiatives that advance financial inclusion through entrepreneurship and economic development. Investments will include a particular focus on empowering women and youth who comprise a large share of those currently excluded from formal financial services, and include efforts such as:
In Myanmar, with Mercy Corps' "Kompanion Myanmar", a new microfinance institution which will deliver holistic services to small business, with a special emphasis on women and youth;
In Nigeria, with The ASSETS program which will complement Mercy Corps' Educating Nigerian Girls In New Enterprises(ENGINE) program by furthering girls' access to and ability to manage economic assets; and
In the United States, with Habitat for Humanity's Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative Work/Live Project which develops space for functional home-based businesses, increasing employment and income opportunities for low income families.
In the coming months, the MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth will launch a website enabling government leaders, non-profits, academics and other stakeholders to interact with the Center and learn more about the research agenda and philanthropic investments being made to advance inclusive growth.
"Today, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to define the future more evenly and more equitably, and in a way that's more sustainable and prosperous," said Macnee. "We look forward to continuing a dialogue with all interested stakeholders through the MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth."