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Ignite Program: Unleashing the Power of Entrepreneurs

Pham Phuong Thao arms crossed to camera standing among flower bushes

In partnership with the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, CARE’s Ignite Program unleashes the power of growth-oriented entrepreneurs to contribute to resilient, inclusive economies.


By taking a holistic approach to partnering with local financial and non-financial service providers, the Ignite Program opens up much-needed access to finance, technology, and networks and builds entrepreneurship capacity and skills. The program runs in Pakistan, Peru, and Vietnam where large segments of unserved micro and small enterprises are ready for investment.

Interested in partnering with Ignite? Contact us at entrepreneurship@care.org.


CARE Ignite x Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth logo lockup


CARE's Ignite Program

How three female entrepreneurs are working with the Ignite program to grow their businesses around the world.

A landscape photo of a town. Behind the town is a mountain range.

Who we are targeting

Funded by a grant of 5.26m USD from the Mastercard Impact Fund, Ignite will reach 3.9 million entrepreneurs, directly supporting 131,000 entrepreneurs, with a strong emphasis on women. Focused on micro and small businesses with employees who have been in business for at least two years, this program will unleash their potential as agents for inclusive and sustainable economic growth. It will also build their resilience in the face of COVID-19 and increase financial security for entrepreneurs, their families, and employees.

The opportunity

Micro and small enterprises are the economic backbone of most economies worldwide, increasing employment and reinvesting in local communities. However, they are often described as the ‘missing middle’ as they remain unserved or underserved by financial and non-financial service providers. The total Micro, Small & Medium Enterprise finance gap in developing countries is 5 trillion USD.1

The Ignite Program aims to change that by working with local partners to adapt products and services to innovatively meet this vital group’s needs. The program focuses on serving women as, despite being disproportionately disadvantaged, they are: drivers of economic growth, good credit customers, fast adopters of ecommerce, and reinvest in local communities. Enabling women to gain better access to finance could unlock 330 billion USD in annual global revenue.2

Core activities

  1. Increased access to adapted financial products & services
  2. Access to critical support services: capacity building, skills building, mentoring, digital tools
  3. Outreach campaigns promoting digital solutions, adapted products and services, and addressing social and institutional barriers

Latest News & Resources

5 Principles for Powerful Partnerships: Where Profit meets Social Impact

A collaboration in Vietnam is stimulating business growth for women entrepreneurs by challenging misconceptions.

Read the article on Business Fights Poverty

Gender Norms Studies

These studies identify gender barriers and perceptions faced by women entrepreneurs in Peru, Pakistan, and Vietnam.

Read the reports on CARE Evaluations

Glorifying multi-tasking by women entrepreneurs must stop

New research from CARE has revealed a stark truth about women entrepreneurs: Despite some progress, gender norms are still keeping women across the globe from reaching their business ambitions. Read More

Read more

Designing for Mixed Realities: How tailoring support for women entrepreneurs on their digital journeys is critical

The most recent Global Findex showed an increase in women’s financial inclusion through digital access. But what does digital financial inclusion really look like? Read More

Read More

Market Assessment: Social Norms

Our assessment highlights some of the harmful social norms experienced by women entrepreneurs.

Read the report

Market Assessment: Access to Finance

Our assessment reveals the barriers that women entrepreneurs in Pakistan, Peru, and Vietnam face.

Read the report

Unleashing the Power of Entrepreneurs

This report covers progress to date of the Ignite program as of July 2021.

Read the report

Why putting women in charge of their own financial security pays dividends

Women-centered design acknowledges that women’s needs and the barriers they face are fundamentally different to men.  Barriers might include laws and political systems that disadvantage women, harmful gender and social norms, and limited access to finance due to no credit history or collateral, male guarantor requirements, or restrictions on land ownership. Read More

Read More

Three Steps the Female Digital Revolution Can’t Succeed Without

In 2020, millions of women left the workforce. As the pandemic accelerates the move toward a digital economy, women are at risk of being left behind. Read More

Read More


Ignite in Pakistan

Over three years, the Ignite project will reach almost 2 million entrepreneurs in Pakistan, accelerating the growth of 45,000 enterprises. Read More

Learn more

Ignite in Peru

Over three years, the Ignite project will reach almost 1 million entrepreneurs in Peru, accelerating the growth of 35,898 enterprises. Read More

Learn more

Ignite in Vietnam

Over three years, the Ignite project will reach almost 1 million entrepreneurs in Vietnam, accelerating the growth of 50,000 enterprises. Read More

Learn more


Hina Sadaf Butt, Hostel Manager, Pakistan

Digital tools helped Hina streamline her business, giving her the freedom to spend more time with family.

Meet Hina

Pham Phuong Thao, Florist, Vietnam

With access to capital and training, Pham Phuong Thao's business is flourishing in Vietnam.

Meet Thao

Fariha Irfan, Arts & Handicrafts Business, Pakistan

Fariha is supporting a network of artisans through her business.

Meet Fariha

Fouzia Qazi, Tourism, Pakistan

After COVID-19 halted her tourism business, Fouzia knew that learning digital skills were crucial to success.

Meet Fouzia

Nguyen Thi Hien, Specialist Foods, Vietnam

At age 21, Nguyen Thi Hien took over her family business. Since then, she's been taking the business world by storm.

Meet Hien

Maria Elena Menacho García, Jewelry Stores, Peru

Maria Elena Menacho García has two jewelry stores and wants to expand online.

Meet Maria Elena

Tran Quynh Anh, Food Imports Business, Vietnam

Tran Quynh Anh imports foods and believes that passion and hard work will break down all barriers.

Meet Anh

Adnan Ali, Plastics Manufacturer, Pakistan

Adnan Ali has a strong head for business and is keen to diversify his plastics business.

Meet Adnan

María Julia Ancajima Prado, Food Production, Peru

María Julia Ancajima Prado has come a long way since starting domestic work at the age of only 13.

Meet María Julia

Latest Videos

What’s holding women entrepreneurs back?

See how CARE’s Ignite Program is shifting gender norms in Pakistan, Peru, and Vietnam.

Watch Video

Digital Journeys for Women Entrepreneurs

See how three women entrepreneurs learned digital technologies to scale their businesses.

Watch Video

Hina – Girl’s Hostel

Hina runs a Girl’s Hostel in Pakistan and is passionate about what women entrepreneurs can achieve.

Watch Video

Saeeda Begum - Shining Little Stars

Saeeda runs a clothing store in Pakistan and explains how she has improved her financial management with CARE’s support.

Watch Video

Ignite's Impact in the Field

CARE President and CEO Michelle Nunn gives an update on the process of the Ignite program in Vietnam, Pakistan, & Peru.

Watch Video

Jesús and the Ignite Project

Through Ignite, Jesús has strengthened the women entrepreneurs in the association she leads in Peru, despite COVID-19.

Watch Video

Mastercard and CARE announced their partnership for the Ignite Program during the Global Inclusive Growth Summit. The $5.26M partnership will reach 3.9 million entrepreneurs and open up much-needed access to finance, technology, and networks and build entrepreneurship capacity and skills.


  1. World Bank, 2020
  2. BNY Mellon & United Nations Foundation, 2018
  3. World Economic Forum, 2019