Mastercard Academy creates digital educational platform for SMEs

To support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in navigating the post pandemic business environment, Mastercard Academy has launched ‘The Entrepreneur’s Odyssey’ – a digital education platform that brings together a range of academic and business resources to help entrepreneurs thrive.  

From urban kiosks and rural farmers to fashion stores, service providers and entrepreneurs in countless other sectors, the small business segment in Kenya has faced unprecedented changes in the ‘new normal’ created by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has accelerated adoption of digital transformation and e-commerce.

Last year, Mastercard announced a $250 million commitment over five years to support SMEs with digital tools and training during the pandemic.

Now, with the launch of ‘The Entrepreneur’s Odyssey’, Mastercard will further empower small businesses with data insights and knowledge to more efficiently and securely run their enterprises.  

With a click-to-watch process on Mastercard Academy, the Entrepreneur’s Odyssey platform has direct links to recorded videos that will bring participants face-to-face with professors from Harvard, INSEAD, Wharton and the Christiansen Institute of Innovation, alongside an expert Mastercard faculty.  

Michael Froman, Vice Chairman and President, Strategic Growth for Mastercard said small businesses are the backbone of local communities and an engine for the global economy and because of this, the company will be ensuring that entrepreneurs and small business owners have access to educational resources, insights, tools and solutions to recover from the impacts of the pandemic and truly thrive.

“The Entrepreneur’s Odyssey is the latest in our Mastercard efforts to deliver on the needs of these critical businesses so they can design, launch, manage and grow their ventures,” he said.

 Prof Daniel Isenberg, CEO of Entrepreneurship Policy Advisors and former professor, Harvard Business School urged every small business owner and startup entrepreneur, particularly those with growth ambitions, to join The Entrepreneur’s Odyssey by Mastercard, which he regarded a highly compelling online educational program.

“Particularly now that digital presence and operations are even more essential than in the past, The Entrepreneur’s Odyssey will help startup and SME owners upgrade their practices to use new tools to address rapidly changing customer expectations. The Entrepreneur’s Odyssey provides highly relevant entrepreneurship and management principles, and practical tools that anyone can apply to their businesses successfully,” he said.

‘The Entrepreneur’s Odyssey’ is a mobile and tablet-friendly, self-paced curriculum that includes online lessons across 21 modules with a total of 28 videos of approximately 20-30 minutes each.

Following a five-pathway approach, the resources are open to all aspiring and established entrepreneurs with no limits on number of viewers and free to watch. The platform will also be offered to government partners. 

The five pathways include: 

  • Design – This pathway and the next are aimed at aspiring entrepreneurs for whom the building blocks of every great business starts with an idea and a job to be done. In this pathway, Efosa Ejomo from the Christiansen Institute of Innovationdiscusses why any entrepreneur’s business model should seek to address a struggle. The segment also includes how to design a customer experience, taught by a Mastercard executive. 
  • Launch – This pathway addresses what it takes to turn one’s business plan into a business venture. Professor David Bell from Wharton Business School discusses pricing and value creation as well as how to win in a digital economy, while a Mastercard expert gives his top tips and tricks from a digital Sherpa. 
  • Manage – The Manage and Grow pathways are for established entrepreneurs to discover the technology, skills and techniques to help them run their business like a professional. In this pathway, Professor Daniel Isenberg discusses the importance of building a resilient mindset while another Mastercard expert shares insights on how to build a social media marketing campaign. 
  • Grow – Professor Isenbergcontinues to share why a growth mindset is always critical to success no matter what stage of the entrepreneurial journey one is in.  He presents his 3C Scale Up Model: Customers, Capacity and Cash and offers practical advice for each of the Cs. 
  • Community – The final pathway in the curriculum shares tools, case studies, resources and access to fellow entrepreneurs. Marla Blow, founder of FS Card and experienced venture capital fund raiser discusses the Entrepreneur’s North Star in this segment. 

The small business segment worldwide is diverse and vast representing the majority of businesses in local economies. This means SMEs have a significant impact on employment, growth and GDP, with the potential to make a genuine difference in terms of equality, inclusion and community wellbeing. 

Raghav Prasad, Division President, Sub-Saharan Africa, Mastercard stressed the need to support small businesses, saying there’s often a knowledge gap, especially for smaller enterprises that have been operating in traditional ways until recently.

“That’s why Mastercard is offering this new set of educational tools to help guide and support small businesses through the pandemic, and beyond, into the recovery phase. By leveraging its technology, insights, global expertise and partnership approach, Mastercard aims to empower every business everywhere to grow digitally, become stronger than before, and prosper in a more connected, equal, and inclusive world,” he explained.

The Entrepreneur’s Odyssey is a progression of other similar SME-related programs that Mastercard has developed in the past such as The Mastercard Trust Center which provides SME owners with links to curated education, resources and tools from trusted external sources to help them defend their business against cyberattacks. 

The Mastercard Digital Doors program also helps small businesses open their digital doors get SMEs online, protect their business, and ensure they have the right tools to digitally transform. 

 Mastercard Academy MEA training solutions are delivered through three unique platforms: Face-to-Face Courses; On-demand Workshops; and Online Courses (via Academy On the Web). 

‘The Entrepreneur’s Odyssey’ interactive playbook lessons are as follows: 

  • The Entrepreneur’s Mindset 
  • Evaluating Market Creating Innovations 
  • Understanding the Job to be Done 
  • Customer Experience Strategies for Success 
  • Value Creation 
  • Pricing Strategies 
  • Winning in the Digital Economy, Part 1 & 2 
  • Tips and Tricks from a Digital Sherpa 
  • Building a Resilient Business 
  • Securing your Small Business Part 1 & 2 
  • Social Media Marketing for Small Business 
  • Technology Adoption in the Last Mile 
  • The Scale Up Business Model 
  • Scaling Customers 
  • Scaling Capacity 
  • Scaling Cash 
  • The Entrepreneur’s North Star 
  • Enabling Gig Workers in a Digital Economy 
  • The Power of Working Capital 
  • My Start-up Story 
  • Open Your Digital Doors With Mastercard 

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