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Mastercard, LAGS Signs MoU, to Drive Digital Financial Inclusion for SMEs

Mastercard signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) to provide micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with access to digital, payment, and training tools. The MoU will boost the capacity of MSMEs to grow their businesses while supporting the startup fintech community in Lagos.

Established in 2016, the LSETF tackles unemployment and promotes entrepreneurship in Lagos State by empowering its residents with job and wealth creation opportunities. To date, more than 70 000 entrepreneurs have benefited from the Fund, which prides itself on transparency, integrity, inclusiveness, and being a catalyst for a conducive growth environment.

Under the terms of the MoU, LSETF will leverage Mastercard’s technology, expertise, partnerships, training, and cyber intelligence solutions to improve the business environment via entrepreneurship, employability, skills development, and financial inclusion.

Specifically, Mastercard will collaborate with LSETF to provide SME-in-a-Box – a new low-cost payments solution that enables small business owners to move their businesses online and accept a range of digital payments from their customers, moving beyond person-to-person payments. Mastercard will also provide advisory and technical support to advance this digital-first strategy, per local and global best practices.

With SME-in-a-Box, business owners will gain access to a wide range of financial services and payment options (contactless and QR payments) quickly and easily through a single intuitive app compatible with all NFC-enabled devices.  In addition, through its Simplify Commerce offering, Mastercard will equip SMEs with a plug-&-play e-commerce store builder with an instant online checkout.

MSMEs will also be provided with access to virtual cards, as well as other payment solutions and global entrepreneurship training content from the Mastercard Academy, including the Entrepreneurs Odyssey. These capabilities have been packaged as a bundled solution to drive adoption and support business owners to grow their revenue and thrive in the new operating environment. They also advance the LSETF’s goals to create employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for Lagos residents and empower them to realise their aspirations by providing leverage and access to finance.

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“Nigeria, like most developing countries, contends with unemployment, and entrepreneurship remains a viable option to empowering residents with jobs and wealth creation opportunities. Our collaboration with Mastercard will have a significant impact on the way MSMEs operate, equipping business owners with innovative tools and knowledge. Not only will this assist our vision to achieve digital financial inclusion for MSMEs, but also help us foster the adoption of innovation within the vibrant Lagos business ecosystem,” says Teju Abisoye, Executive Secretary, LSETF.

MSMEs in Nigeria accounts for 96% of all business activities, contribute 50% of the national GDP, and provide over 48% of all employment opportunities in the country, according to the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO). The MoU supports Mastercard’s goal of improving these numbers by connecting 1 billion people and 50 million micro and small businesses to the digital economy by 2025.

Through this collaboration, over 70 000 registered entrepreneurs are set to be provided with immediate access to Mastercard tools and training materials, enabling them to become more informed, successful, and profitable.

“Despite the critical role MSMEs play in the socio-economic development of Nigeria, we recognize that they face numerous hurdles that negatively affect their sustained growth, including limited to no access to funding, business training, formal credit, infrastructure deficit, and more.

The MoU fosters multiple growth opportunities for MSMEs and ultimately equips them to become active participants in the digital economy by providing technologically innovative environments for fintech startups and multiple opportunities to leverage Mastercard’s assets,” says Ebehijie Momoh, Country Manager & Area Business Head, West Africa, Mastercard.

The MoU aligns with Mastercard’s focus on localizing its solutions to address specific market needs. It also shows a deep understanding of the dynamics of the payments ecosystem in Nigeria, as well as Mastercard’s commitment to connecting and empowering an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart, and accessible.

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Written by PH

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