The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and the Mastercard Foundation have launched a fund to provide loans to a maximum of 400 Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) whose businesses have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The loan facility will be interest-free and repayable by up to six months.
The Fund is created through support from the Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program and is targeting businesses that find it difficult to access financing from formal lending institutions such as banks and micro-financers. Priority will be given to businesses run by women and young people.
KEPSA will carry out the screening of the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises to ensure they meet the criteria for eligibility to access the loans. Loans will range in size with an expected average size of Ksh 1 million.
KEPSA’s CEO, Carole Karuga said that times were bad for everybody and the situation had hit MSMEs the hardest. They already operate in a difficult environment, and with research showing that most MSMEs last two years, the pandemic would be detrimental to their future plans.
She explained that the fund and the accompanying program is intended to strengthen the MSMEs’ capacity, and KEPSA would provide technical support, such as helping the businesses adopt digital solutions.
In addition to screening the MSMEs, KEPSA is also set to roll out a virtual SME Hub and create a business recovery hub to support the SMEs by offering business development services.
COVID-19 has affected my business negatively in terms of work consistency and revenue and as a result fewer working hours for virtual employees.
” As a business that relies 90 per cent on the outsourcing of transcription work, clients are cutting costs and my service offering is at the top of the list to be cut,” said Frida Mwangi, Founder of KaziRemote Limited.
Mwangi remarks that through business development services, the solution would be to remodel the business to offer skills that will be in demand now and beyond the pandemic.
KEPSA and the Mastercard Foundation intend for the program to:
- Help maintain jobs and livelihoods;
- Identify new business opportunities for women and young people;
- Reduce Gender-Based Violence by enhancing the capacity of women-led and owned businesses to increase revenue and income;
- Prioritize the health and safety of employees, communities, and healthcare workers; and
- Ensure business and supply chain continuity.
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Mastercard Foundation Regional Head, Eastern and Southern Africa, Daniel Hailu said that MSMEs are the backbone of the economy and need support now more than ever.
The Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program is working with its partners to deliver tailored support to MSMEs that will sustain their activities and provide opportunities for dignified work.