By Payal Dalal, Senior Vice President of Social Impact, International Markets at the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth & Bartosz Ciolkowski, Country Manager Poland, Czech Republic & Slovakia at Mastercard
According to the UN, 5.5 million people – mostly women and children, due to the military commitments of men between 18 and 60 – have been forced to evacuate their country, leaving families and loved ones behind.
The lead destination for Ukrainians has been Poland, where more than 3 million people have arrived. The compassion and generosity shown by the Polish population has been remarkable but they, nor the government, cannot alleviate every issue alone.
Newly arrived Ukrainians must navigate new education, employment, language and social systems. Most women and children are doing this without their support networks of close family and friends, placing them under stress.
Providing support through partnership
The collective international relief to meet the immediate needs of displaced Ukrainians has been phenomenal. However, with no clear timeframe on when they may be able to return home, we must now come together to build the infrastructure for Ukrainians to stabilize their lives while they reside in new countries.
Through a philanthropic commitment of $1.9 million dollars, the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth will support programs that promote the ongoing stability and well-being of displaced Ukrainians now residing in Poland. The first of which will go to the Impact Foundation, supporting female entrepreneurs.
In delivering our global commitment to foster women’s economic empowerment, we have learned that successful programs must be built around gender intentionality. When we empower women with the resources they need to survive, thrive and grow, it benefits everyone.
Supporting female entrepreneurs and workers
Our support of the Impact Foundation’s ‘Rebuilding Ukrainian Businesses - Entrepreneurial Women’ program will enable women from Ukraine to establish their businesses or re-start their careers in Poland.
Since the beginning of the invasion, half of Ukrainians have lost their jobs and only 2% of those have found temporary earnings. Investment in skills, education, re-employment and entrepreneurial support is therefore critical to ensure individuals can make a living, wherever they are, and avoid a long-term regression in Ukraine’s workforce.
This is especially true for many women looking to navigate a new job market in a foreign language while facing extreme uncertainty, emotional trauma and caregiving responsibilities. We must sustain and enable women’s economic empowerment and longer-term livelihoods; therefore this partnership will provide the following resources and services to 50,000 Ukrainian refugees, with a focus on women, over 18 months:
- Access to online business training content, including guidance on how to run a business and develop a professional career, as well as digital upskilling.
- Employment in the Polish labor market and, if necessary, enrolment in social services, including childcare and mental health support, so people can focus on starting and re-establishing their careers.
- Business start-up support from a year-long program that includes technology grants, childcare and more than 40 hours of one on one, free advisory services.
The humanitarian emergency for the people of Ukraine continues to intensify as the war prolongs. Mastercard’s commitment remains steadfast to mobilize the breadth of our assets in support of the people of the region. We will continue to support of NGOs, governments and financial institutions and their crisis response efforts, while also ensuring funding and aid are directed to those that need it most.
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