Waterloo, Belgium. 20 April 2021 – Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are the backbone of Belgium’s economy and they urgently require support in the current crisis. To help them innovate and thrive, BeCommerce and Mastercard are launching ”Ezyshop” – a free, skill-up, coaching program open to existing MSMEs (e.g flowers, gifts, clothes, bakeries, etc.) in need of e-commerce guidance to help expand their services and boost financial resilience.
Mastercard, the leader in global payments and technology, will help reach the 2021 target of 2,021 small businesses to enable them to build their own webshops, in partnership with the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, the company’s philanthropic hub which advances equitable and sustainable economic growth and financial inclusion around the world. To implement the program, BeCommerce will receive a grant of $200,000 from the Mastercard Impact Fund.
In collaboration with BeCommerce, every merchant that signs up to the program will receive Shopitag web design support and a subscription waiver to build and host their website for the first two months. BeCommerce will also provide a practical e-commerce guide in collaboration with Mastercard and the Center about how to navigate the world of e-commerce: understanding the choices that exist for payment platforms (e.g. in-house or outsourced, checklists and best practices showcasing e-commerce success stories) to support them in making informed decisions. Importantly, merchants will also receive pro bono individualized coaching calls/feedback to help keep them on track to achieve their goals.
BeCommerce Membership for one year will be included for free, which automatically gives business owners access to all market studies, networking events and conflict resolution systems. They will also have the option of a free compliance and security audit, allowing them to belong to a community of trusted webshops.
Doing well by doing good
“By working together with such a trusted partner as BeCommerce, we are helping micro and small and medium businesses develop their skills to navigate the digital economy and build a more resilient future,“ said Payal Dalal, Senior Vice President, Social Impact, International Markets at the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.
Belgium’s e-commerce is behind neighboring countries
According to UNIZO, the 2020 report of the Belgian union for self-employed entrepreneurs, Belgium has 1,166,223 SMEs with fewer than 49 employees. As the pandemic continues, a huge number of those companies have struggled to keep their businesses running and have lost almost their entire income. This has been especially the case for retail, where non-essential businesses have had to close and non-essential travel has been strictly limited.
With e-commerce on the rise, 80% of Belgians who ordered online during the first week of the pandemic have stated that they will keep ordering online. This represents an important growth opportunity for MSMEs and a way to diversify their revenue/customers and build their business – not only in Belgium but across Europe. Moreover, the EU champions in e-commerce are all neighboring countries of Belgium: in order of ranking are the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands. Belgium’s e-commerce market is hence a lot behind compared to the best in class.
Sofie Geeroms, Managing Director, BeCommerce said : “Thousands of families in Belgium depend on these small businesses and they are really struggling in this COVID crisis. In collaboration with such an experienced and reputable partner as Mastercard, we know we can equip these MSMEs with affordable tools and knowledge to give them the confidence they need to prosper.”
“Small businesses are at the heart of our economy and by joining forces with BeCommerce, we hope our shared experiences will help these entrepreneurs deal with some of the challenges they are currently facing, including business unpredictability and loss of income. By enabling these companies to embrace new technologies, we are confident their customers will grow and their business can prosper,” said Henri Dewaerheijd, Mastercard Country Manager BeLux.
MSMEs interested in learning more and applying to the program can visit the becommerce website for Ezyshop: eyzshop.be.