Strive USA Innovation Fund
Creative & scalable digital small business solutions
The application period is now closed
The Strive USA Innovation Fund provides grants to community financial institutions and business support organizations who are testing scalable capital and service products so underrepresented entrepreneurs can get capital, go digital, and grow networks and know-how.
Innovative solutions to drive small business growth and financial resilience
The Strive USA Innovation Fund supports early-stage digital and data-first solutions that solve for the challenge of getting capital, going digital, and growing networks and know-how.
The Innovation Fund has made $1 million in grants available to enable community financial institutions (CFIs) and business support organizations (BSOs) to test data-driven digital tools, approaches, products, and services that are in early stage or require support to prove a high potential concept. This grant opportunity helps grantees to grow their next big idea.
The Mastercard Strive USA Innovation Fund has offered 501c3 CFIs and BSOs the opportunity to submit a grant application for up to $250,000 to support their proposed solution. Each grant awarded by the Mastercard Strive USA Innovation Fund will have a term of no less than 12 months and no more than 18 months, during which time applicants should demonstrate efficacy of their solution and potential for scale.
Why should you apply?
The Mastercard Strive USA Innovation Fund is designed to elevate and accelerate promising ideas for strengthening the small business ecosystem through digital and data-first approaches.
Who should apply?
Applicants can be 501c3 organizations including community financial institutions and business support organizations seeking to test, enhance, and grow digital and data-first products and/or services that support growth, resiliency and/or stability of U.S. small businesses led and founded by underserved entrepreneurs.
Applicants operating locally, regionally, and at a state level are encouraged to apply during the application window. We also encourage partnership with private sector actors with a 501c3 CFI or BSO as the applicant.
Preference will be given to solutions and organizations that address entrepreneurial challenges facing historically underserved entrepreneurs across the focus areas described.
What are we looking for?
The Mastercard Strive USA Innovation Fund provides support to organizations piloting early-stage solutions that creatively solve challenges the Strive USA is seeking to address: helping small businesses get capital, go digital, and grow their networks and know-how. The fund is specifically focused on creating space for organizations to test and grow new products, services, and strategies that harness innovation to address challenges in the small business ecosystem.
This fund is not designed to scale already implemented solutions into new geographies, nor is it designed for entities without relevant experience working with or for financial intermediaries or small businesses.
What problems do we want to solve?
Mastercard’s Strive USA initiative aims to empower small businesses to overcome the common roadblocks of getting capital, going digital, and growing networks and know-how.
Applicants should define the problem their solution addresses, explain why the problem is important to solve, and describe the expected impact of success. While scalability is not a prerequisite, we seek to support concepts with the potential for long-term, sustainable impact. The demonstration of existing demand or market opportunity is critical to preparing a successful application.
What solutions are we interested in funding?
Illustrative solutions include but are not limited to:
- Digital solutions that attract new capital, enable liquidity, and/or open new revenue streams for CFIs
- Products and services that leverage AI and machine learning to create organizational efficiencies for intermediaries
- Use of analytics, insights, and data insights that increase access to affordable credit for underserved entrepreneurs
- Enable delivery of government funding to small businesses via partnerships with CFIs and private sector partners
- Tools and platforms that aggregate and simplify use and access of e-commerce and digital marketing tools for small business owners
- Digital solutions designed to standardize, integrate, and automate CFI workflows, capital raising, and/or customer acquisition
Growing Networks and Know-How:
- Online community building hubs for small businesses leveraging value-added services such as banking, loans, business management tools, etc.
- Culturally sustaining financial and business tools and platforms for entrepreneurs from under-resourced communities