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MasterCard launches Project Inspire 2013, donates additional USD25,000 to Hapinoy

Program promotes women empowerment through innovative entrepreneurship ideas

TWEET: #MasterCard #Philippines launches #ProjInspire 2013, donates additional USD25K to 2011 winner #Hapinoy

MasterCard Worldwide renews its commitment to women’s empowerment by again joining hands with the Singapore Committee of UN Women to launch the third edition of Project Inspire: 5 Minutes To Change The WorldMasterCard is also awarding an additional USD25,000 grant to past Grand Prize winner Hapinoy

Project Inspire is a digital and social media driven program that encourages young people across the world to empower disadvantaged women and girls in Asia/Pacific, the Middle East or Africa (APMEA). It opened in 2011, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day and the 25th anniversary of MasterCard in APMEA.

Open to 18-35 year olds all over the world, Project Inspire provides a 5-minute platform for pitching transformative, sustainable ideas, and a USD25,000 Women’s Empowerment Grant for the winner to implement the initiatives, which can range from education and skills training, to financial inclusion or social entrepreneurship projects.

For Project Inspire 2011, micro-entrepreneurship program Hapinoy won the Grand Prize, besting 9 other finalists from six other countries. Hapinoy equips women with the knowledge, tools, and resources to run sari-sari stores – small neighborhood convenience stores or retail-based outlets that are a potent source of livelihood among the underprivileged Filipinos.

Led by social entrepreneurs Mark Ruiz and Bam Aquino, Hapinoy has successfully evolved into a full-service micro-entrepreneur enhancement program. Its listed beneficiaries are up from 2011’s 100 to today’s 1,300, and there are now 7,000 stores under its network found all over the country’s South Luzon area.

“We are most thankful to Project Inspire, which enabled Hapinoy to develop a 10-month scalable training program on inventory management, customer relations, visual merchandising, and cash flow management, among other skills. Moreover, it allowed us to design and implement an incentive framework for our beneficiaries, reach out to more communities, and forge partnerships with LGUs, cooperatives, corporations, and other potential partners,” explains Ruiz.

Delighted with Hapinoy’s remarkable performance, MasterCard has decided to give the micro-entrepreneurship venture another round of financial support, amounting to USD25,000. Ruiz shared that the additional grant will help Hapinoy put up 500 more stores, and expand operations in Bicol, one of the country’s poorest regions, and even the farther areas of Visayas and Mindanao.

Last year, another Philippine entry by NGO Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (Eiler) dubbed Project Stitch won Project Inspire’s People’s Choice Award. Presented by Eiler staff member Soleil Manzano, Project Stitch aims to provide support and livelihood to displaced women in the poor communities of Manila, through sewing cooperatives.

MasterCard is looking forward to more of such transformative ideas: “We are pleased to invite young people to share their ideas in the third edition of Project Inspire: 5 Minutes to Change the World. Hopefully, we will see more innovative concepts like Hapinoy and Project Stitch change the lives of the women in the marginalized sector,” says Georgette Tan, group head of communications, Asia/Pacific, Middle East & Africa, MasterCard Worldwide.

Interested participants are encouraged to visit to submit a 5-minute video or written pitch articulating their idea and how they will use the grant to implement it. Ten finalists then have to seek the support of a global voting audience to their proposal, and fly to Singapore to present live to an expert judging panel by August 2013, when the winner will be announced.