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The Power of Entrepreneurship
Ajay Banga is also a member of the Board of Directors at MasterCard. He joined the company as President and Chief Operating Officer in August 2009. In April 2010, he was named to his current post. Before joining MasterCard, Banga served as Chief Executive Officer of Citigroup’s Asia-Pacific Region. He joined Citigroup in 1996 and served in positions of increasing responsibility including as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the International Global Consumer Group; President of Retail Banking North America; Business Head for CitiFinancial and the U.S. Consumer Assets Division; and Division Executive for the consumer bank in Central/Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa, and India. Prior to Citigroup, Banga spent 13 years with Nestlé, India, and spent two years at Pepsico. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Kraft Foods and on the Board of Trustees of the Asia Society. He received a B.A. in economics from Delhi University where he graduated with honors. He is also an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.
MasterCard Worldwide (www.mastercard.com) is a leading global payments company that serves as a franchisor, processor, and advisor to the payments industry, and makes commerce happen by providing a critical economic link among financial institutions, governments, businesses, merchants, and cardholders worldwide. Powered by the MasterCard Worldwide Network, MasterCard processes over 23 billion transactions each year and advances global commerce through its family of brands, including MasterCard®, Maestro®, and Cirrus®; its suite of core products such as credit, debit, and prepaid; and its innovative platforms and functionalities, such as MasterCard PayPass™ and MasterCard inControl™. MasterCard serves consumers, governments, and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories.
What is the importance of corporate philanthropy and social responsibility to the culture of MasterCard?
MasterCard operates in more than 210 countries and territories around the world, and we take seriously our responsibility to invest in communities in which we do business. An emphasis on social responsibility permeates our culture, and I believe we have some of the most active and compassionate employees around. Responsibility is about more than just giving away dollars – it’s a genuine interest and investment in the lives of the people with whom we interact every day.
For example, last March we announced a new philanthropy strategy, which sharpens our focus on furthering financial inclusion through the power of entrepreneurship. We began a partnership with Grameen Foundation that allows our employees to contribute their time and expertise to Bankers without Borders, Grameen’s global volunteer corps that connects business professionals with microfinance and technology initiatives to remove barriers to global financial inclusion. This partnership is just one of the newest ways our company is giving back to the communities in which we operate.
MasterCard has placed a major emphasis on financial inclusion and the importance of spurring entrepreneurship. Why is this a major focus for you?
Financial inclusion increases the prosperity of communities and helps ensure that people have the opportunity to achieve their full potential. Helping individuals become more financially savvy can create a positive ripple effect in their personal lives, in their communities, and throughout society. By focusing our philanthropic efforts on entrepreneurship, we aim to fuel innovation, employment, and economic growth to help people build a stronger future for themselves, their families, and their communities. We encourage an entrepreneurial culture within MasterCard where good ideas and new thinking are celebrated, and we understand the importance of supporting those same traits throughout society.
How does your partnership with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) program work to deliver entrepreneurial education to at-risk youth in low-income communities?
MasterCard is proud to partner in both the United States and Belgium with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, an organization whose mission aligns directly with our own mission and with our responsibility goals. In the U.S., we recently sponsored a $1-million grant through NFTE, which will provide hands-on learning and classroom lessons focused on mathematics, analytical skills and management, and planning for at-risk youth. Through this program, NFTE hopes to inspire students from low-income communities to stay in school, recognize business opportunities, and plan for successful futures.
This emphasis on empowering young people, especially those at higher risk, is also evident in our work with The Prince’s Trust in the United Kingdom and with the International Youth Foundation (IYF) in India. Both of these organizations promote education, planning, and access to important assets like technology. The Prince’s Trust works to provide practical and financial support to youth in the U.K. who are not currently at work in terms of getting an education or training. We’re proud to support their commitment to improving the futures of more than 45,000 young people each year.
Similarly, IYF helps students become active, engaged citizens by mobilizing businesses and social organizations to teach and help. In India, MasterCard is funding a program aimed at creating sustained economic opportunities for young entrepreneurs. The two-year project is expected to create at least 1,000 new employment opportunities by providing young entrepreneurs with the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to start-up, run, and sustain their own businesses. All of these programs promote entrepreneurial attitudes and provide access to technology and capital so young people have opportunities to better make their way in the world.
How do you engage employees in MasterCard’s social responsibility and corporate citizenship efforts?
Nearly all of our responsibility efforts include an employee engagement component and our employees need very little incentive to participate. We try to use employees’ expertise to help in innovative ways, like the Bankers without Borders partnership. We also support the Telementor Program, which matches employee volunteers with elementary, middle, or high schools in need.
To further demonstrate our commitment, MasterCard launched a new volunteer policy giving all of our employees time off to give back to their communities. We also post our engagement and responsibility programs so that all employees have access to, and understand how to contribute to, company-wide initiatives. We work hard to recognize employees’ individual contributions to organizations they care about – our MasterCard Volunteer Incentive Program provides grants to charities where MasterCard employees volunteer and we match employees’ financial contributions dollar-for-dollar through the MasterCard Matching Gift Program.•