Access to formal financial services is among the factors contributing to success for women business owners globally.

This is according to the first edition of the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs, which the company released on Tuesday. The index looked at the relative success of women entrepreneurs across the globe. It then compared conditions that either support or hinder it in different markets.

Women entrepreneurs are a primary group the company is targeting with the partnership it announced with Unilever last week. Philip Herrey, vice president, Enterprise Partnerships, for Mastercard, told PaymentFacilitator.com how the companies hope to use that partnership to affect women.

“Encouraging women entrepreneurship, for example through providing business skills and financial literacy trainings, is a central part of how Mastercard works with governments and NGOs to advance financial inclusion,” he said. “By cooperating with Unilever’s deep reach into communities we believe we can distribute this expertise more broadly, leveraging joint education platforms.”

As we reported last week, Mastercard and Unilever are launching their partnership with a pilot program, with hopes to branch out with further initiatives later.

“The first pilot is aimed at small and micro businesses that have a physical store location and that are typically family or individually owned. Mastercard will provide the payment gateway, tokenization and virtual card numbers that will facilitate the digital purchasing process,” Herrey said.

The company has focused much of the attention around its financial inclusion effort recently on distribution of its point-of-sale solution, Masterpass QR.

“While this first [Unilever] pilot is focused on the purchasing side,” Herrey said, “Masterpass QR plays a key role in achieving the goal set by Mastercard to connect 40 million micro and small merchants to electronic payments by 2021.”

Mastercard announced its plans to connect 40 million merchants last June.

Both Mastercard and Visa have pointed out the reliance many emerging markets have on cash as a barrier to growth and total inclusion in a broader financial system.