Lucknow: Today, on a joint visit to Lucknow, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director to India and Minister Counselor for International Development, Veena Reddy, and Executive Vice President, Sustainability and Founder and President, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, Shamina Singh, visited small convenience stores, known as kirana shops, operated by women entrepreneurs to learn how USAID and Mastercard support through Project Kirana has empowered the women to grow their businesses and enhance their livelihoods.
Project Kirana is a business development and digital financial literacy program for women entrepreneurs that aims to increase revenue streams, expand financial inclusion, and enable the adoption of digital payments and other digital tools by women-owned-and-operated kirana shops. The two-year program, implemented by DAI and ACCESS Development Services, is working in select cities of Uttar Pradesh.
Since Project Kirana’s launch in November 2020, more than 2,100 women have benefitted from the program. Together, USAID and Mastercard are supporting women participants to build financial and digital literacy skills on topics such as banking, digital payments, saving, credit and insurance; improving basic business management skills including inventory management, accounting, budget management and customer loyalty; and addressing cultural and gender norms as well as other barriers to women becoming successful kirana entrepreneurs. The program provides customized training on business and financial management, leadership development, digital payments, and access to financial services through digital tools, applications, video content, in-person training, and peer networking opportunities to reinforce learnings grounded in real-life experiences.
Veena Reddy commented, “It was enlightening to engage with women entrepreneurs in Lucknow today. Increasing the participation of women in the formal sector, especially the digital economy, is critical to the well-being of people and the growth of economies. At USAID, advancing women’s digital financial capabilities is a key component of our work to increase equitable economic empowerment. Through this partnership, Mastercard and USAID are addressing the gender inequalities that limit the ability for women-owned businesses to grow and thrive.”
Shamina Singh added, “Project Kirana is an extension of Mastercard’s commitment to empower and enable micro and small businesses with technology, products, insights, and catalytic philanthropic funding. Small businesses owned or led by women consistently outperform peers. Yet, they are at risk of being left behind in an increasingly digital economy without tools and training that meet their needs. We are proud to partner with USAID to develop capacity-building programs that unleash women’s entrepreneurial spirit and their potential to be drivers of a digital, inclusive India.”