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Advertorial | Mastercard empowers Jamaican women to tackle financial inclusion gap

Published:Wednesday | July 12, 2023 | 8:44 AM

The following content is created and paid for by Mastercard

Financial inclusion – connecting people from all walks of life to useful, affordable financial products and services – is an enabler of poverty reduction and economic growth.

1.4 billion adults around the world lack access to a bank account, according to the World Bank. This “unbanked” population is disproportionally poor, female, uneducated, and rural.

Women face the most significant gaps in access to financial services. In 2021, 30% of women in Latin America had no checking accounts, credit cards, or savings, according to a report by Mastercard and Americas Market Intelligence (AMI). According to the report, which explored financial inclusion in the region after the pandemic, that percentage contrasts with the 23% of unbanked men.

Even though the global health crisis accelerated the adoption of digital financial services, the banking gap still poses a challenge in Latin America and the Caribbean. According to Mastercard's report, although the number of Latin Americans that exclusively use cash decreased from 45% to 21% between 2020 and 2023, 91 million still rely entirely on cash.

As a global leader in payment innovation and technology, Mastercard plays a crucial role in making financial services available to everyone, everywhere. As a result, Mastercard is leveraging its resources, technology, and expertise and working with relevant stakeholders in the ecosystem (governments, financial institutions, Fintechs, and merchants) to build a more inclusive digital economy.

In 2020, we announced our commitment to integrate 1 billion people and 50 million micro and small enterprises (MSMEs) into the digital economy by 2025, including 25 million female entrepreneurs with solutions to help them build and grow their businesses. A goal that we surpassed by over 2 million women two years prior to the set target.

This year, Mastercard launched a new suite of solutions to help women entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean. These offerings include access to training programs that Mastercard developed with its partners to help them acquire business skills and make the most of the digital economy, like the INCAE Virtual Accelerator and The Entrepreneur's Odyssey.

Other efforts include the Regional Alliance for the Digitalization of Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, a public-private partnership that Mastercard joined in 2021. It aims to teach digital skills to 3.8 million women and create more than 1 million economic opportunities for them over the next three years.

In Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, Mastercard rolled out its award-winning Girls4Tech educational program, which helps girls acquire skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Mastercard has held two virtual and in-person workshops in the English-speaking Caribbean this year, including its first Girls4Tech workshop in Trinidad and Tobago, in collaboration with the Bishop Anstey Junior School.

The sessions cover topics from algorithms and cryptology to fraud detection, with the goal of inspiring girls to become future industry leaders and help build a more equitable future. Through allied schools and institutions, Girls4Tech has reached more than four million girls, ages 8-12, in 60 countries worldwide, with the involvement of over 4,000 Mastercard volunteers.

Imparting high-tech skills to female students and business acumen to women entrepreneurs helps women become stakeholders of the digital economy, have better control over their finances, access the capital they need to grow their businesses, and improve their living standards.

Jamaica is well-positioned to benefit, with small businesses forming the backbone of the local economy. According to the Jamaica Information Service, MSMEs account for over 97% of the island's taxpaying businesses.

Nevertheless, a survey by the Inter-American Development Bank reveals that 58% of businesses owned or operated by women in Jamaica reported access to financing as a significant obstacle.

Boosting financial inclusion in the region is a responsibility that requires digital tools and training to help connect women with financial services that meet their needs. By creating new pathways for women to succeed we aim to close the gender gap in financial access and foster equitable economic growth around the Caribbean.

To learn about Mastercard's programs aimed at empowering women and unlocking the digital economy's full potential, visit: Corporate Social Responsibility | Social Sustainability (

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