Where To Settle is an essential digital platform that marries data with social responsibility in an accessible way that is helping combat an ongoing humanitarian crisis. This platform was created in response to the most challenging migration crisis since WWII — the movement of Ukrainian refugees into Poland as a result of the war with Russia.
On February 24, 2022, the world watched Russian forces invade Ukraine, pushing almost 10 million refugees to flee the occupied territories and cross the Polish border. With the influx of people into Poland’s most populated cities, the country became the center of a housing, job and economic crisis. Many Ukrainians found shelter in major Polish cities which quickly became overcrowded, causing rent hikes and increased competition for jobs – all amid an unprecedented inflation crisis. It was a perfect storm to generate financial instability and disruption.
For Mastercard, economic inclusion is not only the core of our brand purpose, but also the core of our business strategy. The more people that have access to economic opportunity, the more our world thrives. Our goal was to help refugees, and through that process provide positive benefits to the Polish community helping them too. The challenge to help millions of refugees was massive, but Mastercard faced it head on with authenticity and a will to find inclusive solutions for all.
In analyzing Mastercard’s spending data and data from the Polish Central Statistical Office, we noticed that smaller Polish towns tended to offer greater opportunities for stability and economic success for displaced Ukrainians. Based on this insight, Mastercard acted quickly to create a comprehensive digital tool that presents the cost of living, job opportunities and housing availability in different areas of Poland. The Where to Settle digital platform from Mastercard, in cooperation with the Morizon-Gratka Group, shows refugees the locations in Poland that are the best match for their individual situations and needs. By filling out a simple anonymous form, the tool gives every user customized, condensed and crucial information to help them determine their next steps. It asks those looking for new homes to input information such as preferred employment, family size and more. It then provides average cost of living, salary, housing and economic opportunities in various parts of the country, ultimately showing individuals and families the places where they will be most likely to thrive.
Research showed that within the first months after the war started, 25% of Ukraine, including half of its children, were running for their lives. Of the many who fled to Poland, 34% did not know where to live within the country, adding to their personal and financial challenges. While many refugees were focused on identifying communities where they could feel comfortable, Mastercard knew that a key element of this search had to be finding employment. With this understanding, Mastercard developed the Where to Settle platform to connect refugees with both housing and job opportunities across Poland.
A real breakthrough moment was realizing that this platform could also help smaller Polish communities suffering from depopulation. At the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the inhabitants of Poland rushed to the border with humanitarian aid. Without waiting for official help from the Polish government institutions, they helped refugees, often taking them into their own homes in big cities. Over time, it became clear that systemic and long-term solutions were needed not only to assist Ukrainian refugees, but also to bolster the Polish economy, which began to enter a recession.
The platform streamlined data from myriad sources, including local city officials who promote opportunities within their communities, anonymous Mastercard transaction data, salary information from Statistics Poland (Poland’s government statistics office), and data from Polish real estate and job portals. Where to Settle gives users a clear understanding of their various relocation options, and by promoting smaller towns and cities to Ukrainian refugees, helps drive new talent and spending in these communities.
Where To Settle attracted over 242.17K users to the digital tool, resulting in 73.7K forms completed. 92% of users found the tool useful. Based on the forms refugees completed, which found that their families are composed of 4.08 people on average, the platform is estimated to have helped over 300K people to date. This means more than a fifth (20.05%) of all Ukrainians settling in Poland benefited from Where to Settle, enabling them to not only survive, but hopefully thrive in these trying times. At the same time, Poland continues to benefit from the influx of Ukrainians, which is anticipated to add up to 3.5% to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).
At Mastercard, we’re shaping a more equitable and prosperous world, grounded in strong governance principles. We leverage our employees, technology, resources, partnerships and expertise to drive positive, lasting impact. Mastercard continually works toward this core goal, building on an understanding that inclusion and diversity in all its forms makes us stronger as a team and as a business.
The case proves that an insightful strategy and a brilliant idea, powered by data and the right insights, can have the power to change the world for the better, while helping bring to life a brand’s meaningful role in an authentic and life-changing way. Even in the most difficult times.