To get through the current turmoil, we need to help our small businesses – POLITICO

For Europe to thrive, small businesses must thrive. The main message of the European Commission’s “relief package” for SMEs summarizes the importance of small businesses for the health of the region’s economy. This is no surprise, given that they represent 99.8% of all businesses in the EU, which translates to 25 million businesses and almost 100 million employees.

Traditionally, during the festive season, shoppers focus even more on how they can support independent small businesses, whether they’re in their local festive marketplace or online, and that’s great. Yet despite being an integral part of Europe’s local economy and communities, many small businesses have seen their turnover decline this year, even as we emerge from the pandemic.

[SMEs] form 99.8% of all businesses in the EU, representing 25 million businesses and almost 100 million employees.

Mark Barnett, President, Mastercard Europe | through Mastercard

At Mastercard, we recognize the challenges that small businesses in the region have faced – and will continue to face – due to the pandemic, geopolitical turmoil and economic uncertainty. We have worked alongside the small business sector in Europe for over half a century and are committed to continuing to play a leading role in supporting their survival, recovery and growth in the short and long term.

Over the past month, we are pleased to mark a key moment for our efforts to support small businesses across Europe: the launch of our Strive Czechia initiative.

Initiatives such as Strive, which bring together industry and civil society, are key to supporting the growth of SMEs. However, so has increased support from policy makers.

Small businesses must be at the center of any plan to boost sustainable economic growth and productivity across the EU.

We would like to see EU policy makers expand programs that provide digital skills training and mentorship opportunities, to include smaller business owners; those who need digitization help the most.

Second, late payments hold back small businesses. We therefore also call on the EU and its agencies to use digital payment technologies such as e-invoicing and digital payments with their small suppliers, to free up vital cash flow for these businesses.

We would like to see EU policy makers expand programs that provide digital skills training and mentorship opportunities, to include smaller business owners; those who need digitization help the most.

Finally, policymakers need to consider what additional support is needed to encourage, not stifle, innovation that can help unlock access to finance for SMEs, as well as encourage better use of data among SMEs, including to help them on their journey to net zero.

But not everything can be achieved through politics alone. Companies like Mastercard have a role to play when it comes to supporting small businesses, whether it’s providing mentorship or technology solutions, or working with civil society to have a real impact by helping to unlock the growth of SMEs.

The evolution of Strive

Strive is an initiative tailored to the modern challenges faced by small business entrepreneurs. Launched by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth – our philanthropic hub – Strive aims to build the financial and digital resilience of small businesses by providing them with the resources and network to recover and unlock growth.

To build on the success of the Strive initiative in other countries, including the UK, we launched Strive Czechia to extend our commitment to the European small business economy and support an engine that generates nearly half of the Czech Republic’s combined income and employs half of its population. .

The aim of the program is to partner with the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade, Czechitas, the Czech Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises and Crafts CZ, among others, to strengthen the digital and financial resilience of 250,000 Czech small businesses and enable their business growth over a three-year program and beyond.

Providing technology for small businesses to recover and grow

It’s no secret that events in recent years have created an urgent need for small businesses to go digital. Almost half of businesses in the EU have invested more in digitization as a result of COVID-19. On average, those who did were more productive, more innovative, grew faster, and paid higher salaries than their slower counterparts.

To get through the current turmoil, we need to help our small businesses – POLITICO
through Mastercard

Our network and technology combine to make the European Digital Single Market a reality, and so we recognize the facilitating role we can play in the digital journey for small businesses. This year, we worked across the region to foster partnerships and deploy technology that enables entrepreneurs to optimize recovery and growth efforts.

We’ve worked with PostePay in Italy and Czakó Farmers’ Market in Hungary, both aimed at making life more convenient and profitable for small business owners.

The journey of a small business will always encounter risks, challenges and opportunities. At Mastercard, we will always strive to stand with European entrepreneurs and set them on a path to recovery, growth and prosperity.

Small businesses can no longer be left behind.

Only when we work together to unleash the potential of our smallest entrepreneurs can we also hope to boost growth and unlock the full potential of the European economy.

[i] Strive UK and Strive Czechia are part of Mastercard’s global philanthropic efforts to support small businesses around the world. For more information and to learn more about this work, follow @StriveCommunity

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