From urban kiosks and rural farmers to fashion stores, service providers and entrepreneurs in countless other sectors, the small business segment in Saudi Arabia has faced unprecedented changes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, further fueled by the rapid acceleration of digital transformation and e-commerce. To support small and medium-sized enterprises in navigating this journey, Mastercard Academy has launched “The Entrepreneur’s Odyssey” — a first-of-its kind digital education platform that brings together a range of academic and business resources to help small businesses learn and thrive.
Last year, soon after the world went into a lockdown, Mastercard announced a $250 million commitment over five years to support SMEs with digital tools and training during the pandemic. Now with the launch of “The Entrepreneur’s Odyssey,” Mastercard will further empower small businesses with data insights and knowledge to more efficiently and securely run their enterprises.
With a click-to-watch process on Mastercard Academy, the Entrepreneur’s Odyssey platform has direct links to recorded videos that will bring participants face to face with professors from Harvard, INSEAD, Wharton and the Christiansen Institute of Innovation, alongside an expert Mastercard faculty.
“Small businesses are the backbone of local communities and an engine for the global economy. Because of this, it’s never been more important to ensure that entrepreneurs and small business owners have access to educational resources, insights, tools and solutions to recover from the impacts of the pandemic and truly thrive. The Entrepreneur’s Odyssey is the latest in our Mastercard efforts to deliver on the needs of these critical businesses so they can design, launch, manage and grow their ventures,” said Michael Froman, vice chairman and president, strategic growth for Mastercard.
“Every small business owner and startup entrepreneur, particularly those with growth ambitions, should join The Entrepreneur’s Odyssey by Mastercard, a highly compelling online educational program,” said Prof. Daniel Isenberg, CEO of Entrepreneurship Policy Advisers and former professor, Harvard Business School.
“Particularly now that digital presence and operations are even more essential than in the past, The Entrepreneur’s Odyssey will help startup and SME owners upgrade their practices to use new tools to address rapidly changing customer expectations. The Entrepreneur’s Odyssey provides highly relevant entrepreneurship and management principles, and practical tools that anyone can apply to their businesses successfully,” he added.
The Entrepreneur’s Odyssey is a mobile and tablet-friendly, self-paced curriculum that includes online lessons across 21 modules with a total of 28 videos of approximately 20-30 minutes each. Following a five-pathway approach, the resources are open to all aspiring and established entrepreneurs with no limits on the number of viewers and are free to watch. The platform will also be offered to government partners.
“Small businesses need support to adapt. There’s often a knowledge gap, especially for smaller enterprises that have been operating in traditional ways until recently. That’s why Mastercard is offering this new set of educational tools to help guide and support small businesses through the pandemic, and beyond, into the recovery phase,” added Driss Belemlih, senior vice president, customer delivery, Middle East and Africa.