Equity Bank has suspended the Financial Access to SMEs and Rural Population in Agriculture using Technology (FASRAT) project.
In a letter dated April 28, the bank suspended the project effective May 1 for a period of six months over economic effects of the novel COVID-19.
The move will see at least 60 employees rendered jobless for the said period or “until such a time when the conditions will return to normal to allow the execution of the program”.
“In view of the above circumstances and also for your own safety, we regret to inform you that we are suspending your employment contract with effect from 01 May 2020. During this time you will be on unpaid leave until such a time when the prevailing conditions return to normal,” the letter signed by Group Chief Human Resource Officer Gloria Byamugisha and Executive director, Equity Group Foundation Reuben Mbindu reads in part.
The employees will however receive pay for leave days accrued for the year 2020 until April 30.
Those with outstanding loans with the bank have been advised to make plans to either pay interest only, or a grace period of 12 months until they resume employment.
Employees based at Equity branches have been asked to handover their laptops, tablets and staff cards to their managers while those stationed at head offices have been advised to handover to their line mangers.
They will also be required to submit a detailed report of the project activities.
This comes days after Equity Group Foundation, with support from Equity Bank and Mastercard Foundation, which gave Sh300 million and Sh500 million, respectively.
The lender’s chief executive officer James Mwangi and family gave Sh300 million.
“When I shared the need with my family, a robust discussion revealed the urgency to holistically address the issue. as it was not prudent to provide the PPE’s to students without also focusing on the plight of the doctors, nurses, clinical officers, and medical staff,” Mwangi said.
This means that, collectively, Equity Bank gave Sh1.1 billion to the COVID-19 fund.
The monies he said will go towards buying personal protective equipment (PPEs) for frontline medical workers in public hospitals.
The Labour ministry told MPs that at least 133,657 Kenyans have been rendered jobless as the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) takes a toll on the formal sector.
The number excludes employees on unpaid leave and those who have taken pay cuts as the global health crisis eats into company profits.
According to the report, the most affected sectors are transport, aviation, hospitality and tourism, manufacturing, wholesale and trade, agriculture and the informal sector.
Kenya’s virus cases jumped to 396 on Thursday after 12 more people tested positive for the respiratory disease.
Two other people died bringing the total number of fatalities to 17.
Recovered cases shot to 144 following 15 more discharges.