Small businesses are engines of economic growth and the key to an inclusive recovery. Yet many are struggling to adapt to rapid digital transformation in the wake of the pandemic. Strive Community, a global initiative launched by Caribou Digital and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth  has an Innovation Fund which aims to spark new ideas for catalyzing small businesses’ resilience and growth, at scale. They seek innovative solutions that can be transformative for these small enterprises which are the backbone of every economies. The fund provides up to $1m for digital and data first solutions that enable small businesses with fewer than 10 employees to digitize their operations, better use financial services, or participate more effectively in digital marketplaces.


  • Build and test the most innovative and experimental solutions that you may not have otherwise been able to pursue.
  • In addition to funding, there will be an access to Strive Community and Mastercard expertise, as well as a great opportunity for exposure and publicity


Applicants can be start-ups, established companies, non-profits, social enterprises, or other organization types. Projects must be tested and implemented outside of the US and Canada. Applicants can apply as single entities or as a consortium of multiple organizations. The eligibility criteria is further categorized into:

Project eligibility

  • Proposed projects must:
  • Leverage digital and data first solutions
  • Have potential for measurable positive impact on small business growth
  • Propose implementation outside of the US and Canada

Organizational eligibility

Applicants can be:

  • Single organizations or a consortia of multiple organizations
  • Non-profits, social enterprises, start-ups, and others
  • Companies or multinational corporations (subject to matched funding requirements)

Due diligence requirements

Applicants must:

  • Be a registered and operating entity with active users, with a proven track record of legal and ethical operations and good work performance for at least 2 years
  • Be fully compliant with business licensing, taxation, employee and other relevant regulations in all countries of operation
  • Be compliant with all applicable laws including adhering to fundamental human rights and all international labour standards
  • Be able to prove financial health with adequate financial systems to report regularly to Strive Community
  • Have adequate internal human resource capability to implement the proposed project and comply with Strive Community’s reporting requirements
  • Not be engaged in unethical activities such as arms production or tobacco


Applications is open until December 17, 2021 and shortlisted applicants will be selected on January 14, 2022, and finalists will be selected on March 4, 2022. Successful applicants will each receive up to $200,000 to develop and test their innovation over a 12 – 18 month period.

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