In support of the Pakistan government’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS), CARE International in Pakistan (CIP) and Mastercard launched the ‘Ignite’ small business programme during a ceremony presided by Dr Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, in Islamabad. The programme is part of a global collaboration between CARE and the Mastercard Centre for Inclusive Growth. The programme will be rolled out with several local partners including U-Bank – its financial service provider, White Rice – a behavioural design firm and Mera Maan – a social enterprise focused on capacity building and enterprise development. Over three years, ‘Ignite’ will: * Impact 397,000 entrepreneurs, their employees, and family members with capacity and skills building. * Accelerate the growth of 45,000 entrepreneurs by unlocking access to credit. * Mentor 3,000 entrepreneurs concentrating on digital skills and tools. * Reach an additional 2 million entrepreneurs through the outreach campaign by creating awareness and understanding on formal and digital financial services. As the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates the move toward a digital economy, women risk being left further behind without tailored support and digital tools. To ensure they can survive and thrive in the digital economy, ‘Ignite’ will ensure that at least 30 per cent of entrepreneurs supported are females. By facilitating access to capital, digital tools and skills, the programme will foster a supportive and empowering environment for women entrepreneurs. “Through the work of the Centre for Inclusive Growth, Mastercard’s social impact arm, we continue to help address barriers to enable entrepreneurs to grow and become more resilient. Ignite will provide growth-orientated small businesses with the tools they require to grow, so that they can continue to strengthen the economy and catalyze job creation,” said Natasha Jamal, Vice President, Middle East and Africa, Mastercard Centre for Inclusive Growth.