I have written about the economic hit that businesses have taken due to Covid-19 until I feel like I’m beginning to feel like I sound monotonous. But there is nothing monotonous about the challenges that thousands of business owners and therefore households are going through. These are realities on the ground and the effects will be felt long after the pandemic has left us. Or at least until we have embraced the new normal of living with it.
Sadly, it is clear that some of the damage that has been caused by these economic downtimes may never be corrected. Some people will give up, not because they want to but because they can only push so much against a business environment that is still grappling with the virus. But we are here again with a word of encouragement to those that feel they are on the brink, with the hope that they’ll spring back with time. And with some help.
For instance, Safaricom Foundation through its economic empowerment programme has partnered with Hand in Hand Eastern Africa (HiH EA) NGOto support 400 self-help groups with access to microloans. The foundation will invest KES 12 million in the project with the aim of supporting over 5,000 enterprises. This is part of the foundation’s support to those affected by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The project which is in its second phase will be rolled out in Busia, Kajiado, Migori, Baringo, Nakuru and Nairobi counties. During the first phase which was launched in 2015, over 5,900 new enterprises were created and incubated with over 6,000 loans disbursed.
HiH EA mobilizes, trains and prepares the beneficiaries to access micro loans which range between KES 10,000 and KES 30,000. The financing is disbursed through mobile phones and the loans are payable in three to twelve months.
“Supporting and partnering with communities has always been core to Safaricom for the last 20 years. During this COVID-19 period we have ensured that our interventions in areas such as health, education and hygiene impacts the communities most affected. We are now looking at how we can spur recovery of enterprises which have been affected by the economic disruptions caused by the pandemic. Through this microloan facility, we are looking to sustain over 10, 000 jobs” Sylvia Mulinge, Trustee, Safaricom Foundation.
During the first phase Safaricom Foundation invested KES 10 million with 30% of the amount being used for training and capacity building. Since then the revolving loan pot of KES 7 million has been circulated to reach a disbursement value of over KES 65 million shillings.