On Wednesday (June 9), Mastercard announced the launch of a new Start Path track, a program designed to support “traditionally underrepresented FinTech founders.” The company said the program is part of its $500 million commitment of products, services, technology and financial support to help minority-owned companies scale and close the racial wealth gap.
Start Path is not a new program, but it has traditionally focused on the growth and expansion of startups in general. This new path will support early-stage startups led by Black, Indigenous, People of Color and women entrepreneurs.
Mastercard will give these companies support relative to their stage, including partnership readiness training, coaching and curated commercial and investor introductions. In addition, the company will consider grants or investments in these startups on a case-by-case basis.
“To achieve inclusive growth, which ensures that the benefits of a growing economy extend to all segments of society, people need access to the vital networks that power the modern economy. But access to these physical, virtual and social networks is not equally available,” said Michael Froman, vice chairman and president of strategic growth, Mastercard.
Mastercard noted that venture capitalists invest a “remarkably small” amount of funding — under 3 percent — into Black-founded startups. At the same time, the company’s research shows that people want to support minority-owned businesses. A survey conducted by Mastercard last year found that three-quarters of the 2,017 surveyed by the company planned to shop more consciously at smaller, minority-owned stores.
The program’s first participant is SpenDebt, which automates consumer debt repayment. The programming received guidance from underrepresented founders, including Start Path alumni Goalsetter and Mobility Capital Finance.
Earlier this year, Mastercard launched its Strivers Initiative consumer-facing platform, which is designed to elevate the visibility of Black female-owned businesses.