In many countries small businesses and their artisan products are riding a huge wave of success. The situation in Central and Eastern Europe however - and especially in Poland – is almost the opposite. While their products are of artisanal high quality, crafted with soul and personality, small businesses are slowly going out of business in favour of big brands.
The reasons why? Most business owners know how to make quality products, but know little about advertising, digital communication or brand design. This results in a plethora of marketing and advertising on Polish streets, especially on the beautiful historical buildings of Poland – prime advertising real estate. Shoemakers, convenience stores, restaurants, thrift shops, tailors, are all in the same situation. As a result, in the last decade alone, over 100,000 small shops disappeared.
Mastercard wanted to get involved in the local community and give small businesses a chance to be as effective as the big retailers and brands with big advertising budgets, while also making the Polish streets look better.
Together with NGOs who specialised in urban design and McCann Warsaw, Mastercard launched BUSINESS FACELIFT – a program especially created for small business owners that, through an online platform, connected them with designers and specialists who offered them free design makeovers and business management courses. Participation was contingent on one condition: to step into the “future” and upgrade with Mastercard POS technologies.
Marta Życińska, vice president, head of marketing and communications for the CEE region, Mastercard Europe commented: "We support entrepreneurs not only in terms of providing payment solutions, but also in meeting their business challenges. One of them is the image of the company. An attractive store design can encourage more customers to come in and buy, which will result in higher profits for entrepreneurs. As our research shows, providing consumers with cashless payments may also contribute to higher revenues. We are happy to partner with the experts on urban design to help small merchants grow their business."
Bartek Klimaszewski, McCann Warsaw, stated: “To see the faces of the owners after we were done with their makeover, their joy that the business was starting to go better or the immediate reactions of their customers – that was the best reward we could get from this project. It was something we’ve never done before – connecting big technological brand like Mastercard with NGOs in order to help small business owners. Its success proves that Start Something Priceless has a huge potential and we should continue on this path. Other design studios are joining our platform, we are expanding our program and we’re making an impact on the law regarding urban design as more and more cities introduce landscape regulations.”