Personal care powerhouse Unilever has announced a joint partnership with Mastercard that will see the two companies work together on a range of initiatives to empower small and micro businesses in emerging markets.

The partnership aims to ‘further advance specific Sustainable Development Goals such as poverty reduction and sustainable cities and communities,’ with Unilever’s distribution network being matched up with digital payments from Mastercard, as announced at Mobile World Congress.

Developing countries will be offered digital payment and acceptance solutions from Mastercard by being matched up with Unilever’s network of distributors in the areas.

Paul Polman, Chief Executive, Unilever said, “Strategic partnerships such as this are critical to helping us improve our business and positively impact the lives of 5.5 million people by 2020. By working together, we can have a much greater impact in emerging markets, empowering small scale enterprises and bringing about the transformative change necessary to meet the aims of the Sustainable Development Goals and our business.”

Kenya will be the focus for a pilot project, with Unilever and Mastercard working together to create a program that enables sustainable growth of small retail entrepreneurs. The program will create opportunities by digitalizing sales of small goods and supply purchasing, giving vendors the opportunity for low credit.