Economic Development

Announcing the 2021 Global Inclusive Growth Spark Grant Recipients

October 14, 2021  • Aspen Global Leadership Network

The Global Inclusive Growth Partnership, a collaboration between the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and the Aspen Institute, is pleased to announce the 2021 recipients of the 2021 Global Inclusive Growth Spark Grants. The Grant awards $60,000 in total to three organizations led by Aspen Global Leadership Network Fellows from around the world who are leading critical initiatives to reimagine more inclusive economic futures for all.

Congratulations to the following Fellows and their teams for advancing sustainable and equitable economic growth and financial inclusion (pictured below from left to right):

  • Camelback Ventures: The Capital Collaborative, United States | Aaron Walker, Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow
  • Under One Roof: Be Bold, United States | Margaret Lapiz, Health Innovators Fellow
  • Yellow Cowries, Nigeria | Tokunboh Ishmael, Finance Leaders Fellow

These three organizations are building powerful solutions that advance long-term economic inclusion and reimagine broken systems and structures.  Their work tackles issues fundamental to inclusive growth, including increasing access to opportunity and capital for traditionally marginalized entrepreneurs, supporting financial literacy for small business owners, and improving health and economic outcomes through place-based community-led development.

“This year’s Spark Grant recipients represent the best of innovative ideas that take some of our most complicated challenges head on,” said Salah Goss, Senior Vice President, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, and Finance Leaders Fellow. “Their differing approaches, steeped in experience and hands-on knowledge, reimagine what is possible in our pursuit of a more inclusive economy and world. We are happy to work with these Fellows to support the scaling, cross-pollination, and learnings from their work.”

Each organization offers creative, new models to advance sustainable and equitable growth, and are at a critical stage poised for large-scale impact in the future. Read more about the 2021 Global Inclusive Growth Spark Grants recipients below, and join us in celebrating their efforts and leadership.

Camelback Ventures, The Capital Collaborative | United States

Aaron Walker, Founder and CEO of Camelback Ventures, is confronting large disparities in funding in both venture and philanthropy for founders of color and women. In 2020, Walker launched Capital Collaborative: a new cohort-based program within Camelback that addresses this systemic failure by engaging resource allocators, historically white philanthropists and impact investors, who are ready to critically examine and deepen their and their organization’s commitment to racial and gender equity, to diversify their networks, and to make their grantmaking processes more equitable. Participants in the first cohort have dedicated over $1M in funding to BIPOC run businesses and organizations. Over the next 3 years, the organization aims to reach 400 investors at 250 funding institutions and move $40B to racial equity and organizations led by people of color through the program.

Yellow Cowries | Nigeria

The number of small business owners in Nigeria has increased by over 5 million in just the past two years. Without a social security net in the country, the imperative for these business owners to succeed and achieve financial security is urgent. Founded on the premise that more financially literate communities are better able to plan, save, and invest, investment manager and financial advisor ‘Tokunboh Ishmael created Yellow Cowries to equip small business owners and unbanked Nigerians with tools to manage both personal and business finances. Through a gamified, peer-learning curriculum and a network of business learning circles, as well as partnership with financial institutions, Yellow Cowries aims to empower entrepreneurs and ultimately help them build secure economic futures.

Under One Roof, Be Bold | United States

Across the Pajaro Valley, a farming region on California’s Central Coast, 30% of residents live below the poverty line. Margaret Lapiz,CEO and co-founder of Under One Roof, is catalyzing a new approach for unifying a community around a shared vision and actionable agenda to redesign and transform inequitable systems.     The organization is spearheading Be Bold, a collaborative effort across key institutional and educational partners to transform health and economic outcomes through place-based community development, centering the voices and needs of community members themselves throughout the process. In 2022, Community Design Groups will foster multi-generational engagement to advance efforts in strategic areas such as new workforce opportunities, talent pipelines, and community-centered real estate development.

About the Global Inclusive Growth Partnership

Launched in October 2019 with an inaugural summit, the Global Inclusive Growth Partnership (GIGP) combines the expertise and networks of both the Aspen Institute and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth to address systemic issues across a range of topics including financial security, the future of workers and portable benefits, growing micro and small businesses, and commercially-sustainable social impact. Through research, synthesis, and convenings, GIGP aims to catalyze new partnerships and shine a spotlight on innovative, data-driven, and scalable solutions to build a more inclusive and resilient economy for all.

About the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth

The Center for Inclusive Growth is the philanthropic and thought leadership arm of Mastercard. It serves to advance equitable and sustainable economic growth and financial inclusion around the world. In pursuit of this mission, the Center leverages Mastercard’s core assets and competencies – including data insights, expertise and technology, while administering the Mastercard Impact Fund – a pool of philanthropic capital – to produce independent research, scale global programs and empower a community of thinkers, leaders and doers on the front lines of inclusive growth. For more information and to receive its latest insights, follow the Center on Twitter @CNTR4growth and subscribe to its newsletter.

About the Aspen Global Leadership Network’s (AGLN)

The Aspen Global Leadership Network develops authentic, high-integrity leaders committed to proactively confronting societal challenges, individually and collectively, in order to create a more just, free, and equitable society. The network has fostered a worldwide community of more than 3,000 high-integrity, entrepreneurial leaders from business, government, and the nonprofit sector in more than 60 countries. Because of their demonstrated accomplishments and abilities, they have been selected to join one of 14 geographic or sector-specific AGLN Fellowships around the world. The AGLN is committed to moving these leaders from “success to significance” by spurring them to take action on some of the world’s most pressing problems. For more information, visit