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Mastercard’s MIWE 2020 report reveals how COVID-19 could set-back women in business

By Pavithra R

November 23, 2020

  • Mastercard
  • Switzerland
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Mastercard's MIWE report reveals COVID could set-back women in business
Sue Kelsey, Executive Vice President, Global Consumer Products and Financial Inclusion, Mastercard

The Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE), providing world-leading analysis on how women in business are progressing across 58 global economies demands innovative, gender specific support for women throughout COVID-19 recovery.

Women across the world have been disproportionally impacted by the pandemic. In tackling the stark disparity and unlocking the full potential of women in business, the MIWE 2020 report findings make a compelling case for building on targeted gender specific policy best practices internationally.

The MIWE highlights the socio-economic contributions of women entrepreneurs across the world, as well as provides insight into the factors driving and inhibiting their advancement. MIWE 2020, through a unique methodology drawing on publicly available data from leading international organizations, such as the OECD and International Labour Organization, ranks the advancement of women in business in pre-pandemic conditions, representing almost 80% of the female labour force.

The finding reveals Israel to top the chart as the best economy for women entrepreneurs worldwide, advancing from 4th place (2019). The country has doubled the number of female entrepreneurs within 2 years and is driven by focussed institutional backing for SMEs. Its ‘Support for SMEs’ ranking catapulted from 42nd place (2019) to 1st in 2020. Similarly, Switzerland has advanced from 11th position (2019) to 3rd, spurred on by sharp improvement in government-led support for SMEs (up 37% from 2019) and a resulting uptick in cultural perceptions of entrepreneurialism (up 45% from 2019).

Mastercard’s report also provides an initial analysis of the ramifications of Covid-19 on women at work and draws out effective support policies. Crucially, the report presents an optimistic view for the future of women entrepreneurs. The Covid-19 era presents an empowering narrative for women in leadership, providing inspiration when cultural barriers and fear of failure still impede some women from business ventures. Women in business are already demonstrating marked adaptability, despite extensive barriers to success. The report also indicates that the ‘next normal’ presents a unique lifetime opportunity to remove existing barriers, drive greater gender participation and parity for women in business. It further demonstrates the untapped value of women as leaders and highlights the role of the pandemic in expediating progressive solutions. 

“A crisis will always reveal vulnerabilities in the system, and Covid-19 has done that in spades. We have seen the staggering extent of the disparity women in business face. But unlike any other economic downturn, Covid-19 has also paved the way for considerable progress, and we have seen what we can be achieved when priority is given. However, are we brave enough to seize the opportunity, to listen to the data outlined in MIWE 2020 and act accordingly? Or will we cling on to a failed system, and allow the pandemic to shave off progress to date?

These are critical questions decisions makers need to have at the fore as they plan their road to economic recovery. Collectively, governments, financial services and business organizations need to ensure they are offering the right support programmes, solutions and innovation to enable female entrepreneurs the opportunity to thrive in the world’s new normal,” said Sue Kelsey, Executive Vice President, Global Consumer Products and Financial Inclusion, Mastercard.

Established since 1966, Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. The firm is committed to building a more inclusive digital economy that works for everyone. It is also making Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) central to its business model. The firm is also planning to advance cross-border payments next year. In 2020, Mastercard expanded its global financial inclusion commitment, pledging to bring a total of 1bn people and 50 mn micro and small businesses into the digital economy by 2025. 

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