In an already fragile economy, the disruption brought by Covid-19 led to unprecedented income losses and challenges to key sectors like agriculture and agribusiness, the health sector, education sector, manufacturing sector as well as women and youth entrepreneurs in the country.
Most SMEs laid-off workers to reduce costs, women businesses reported a 50% decline in the volume of supplies, different sectors experienced massive supply chain disruptions and eventually some faced loss of business. Many of these challenges emanated from the fact that most SMEs lack financial reserves to meet expenses during emergencies, while others lacked the support and digital infrastructure to respond to the crisis.
Recognising this, Equity bank and Kenya National Chamber Of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) signed an MOU, which had Equity set aside Ksh 200 billion as part of the Post COVID-19 financial support for KNCCI members.
The partnership is aimed at increasing financial inclusion, access to credit and capacity building by providing a potential 3 million enterprises with financial support as well as the needed training framework.
The agreement states that both Equity and KNCCI will undertake joint activities to empower businesses countrywide financially and to build their capacity through programmes aligned to business operations development. These include; training and capacity building through enhanced coaching and business mentorship.
Speaking during the ceremony, KNCCI President Richard Ngatia said that Chamber members across the country had a reason to be happy as this partnership is a conscious decision to walk with them and support them in their time of need.
This partnership does not only increase the opportunities for KNCCI members but it also gives them access to Equity’s resources in terms of manpower, finances, and a comprehensive training curriculum that will result in business growth.
Equity’s Chief Commercial Officer Polycarp Igathe highlighted that the bank is committed to supporting local businesses so they can survive, recover and thrive post-COVID-19. This also includes helping them to create jobs.
Given some of the key challenges faced by local businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak involved, interrupted operations, a reduction in demand, and financial losses, this opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time.
By expanding opportunities for wealth creation, this partnership will promote the growth of SMEs in Kenya, enabling them to rise above economic challenges brought about by COVID-19. Other benefits to Equity customers and KNCCI members courtesy of this partnership includes training, mentorship, coaching, business development, access to credit facilities, competitive interest rates and flexible repayment periods of up to 3 years on their loan facilities.
This partnership targets SMEs operating within key sectors of the economy, including education, agriculture and agribusiness, the health sector and the manufacturing sector as well as target women and youth entrepreneurs in the country.
Equity and KNCCI County Chapters in all 47 counties will establish working committees that will spearhead the training and lending to SMEs in an effort to solve the mismatch in financial inflows and outflows resulting in improved industry performance, increased job creating and increased financial literacy in Kenya.