Kenya SMEs Receive Funds Against COVID-19

Nairobi, Kenya — KENYAN small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) clients facing the coronavirus (COVID-19) related challenges have secured a multimillion-dollar financial boost to overcome the setbacks.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, has made the funds available through a U$50 million loan to Equity Bank Kenya.

The loan, which will ultimately support hundreds of Kenyan businesses in the manufacturing, health, trade, transport, and consumer goods sectors, as part of IFC's global $8 billion fast-track COVID-19 facility, announced in March.

It is designed to help businesses maintain operations and jobs during and after the crisis.

Dr James Mwangi, Equity Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), said the loan was part of the company's business continuity management plan and would help Equity Bank extend much-needed support to clients, particularly to SMEs in sectors hit hard by COVID-19.

"We have purposed to support and walk with them so that they can survive during this crisis, recover, and thrive after it," he said.

Mwangi urged customers looking to seize emerging opportunities in the health and medical sector to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) or support the logistics of the entire ecosystems and value chain to take advantage of the loan facility.

The COVID-19 has disrupted trade and value chains in Kenya, across Africa, and around the world, affecting commodity prices, reducing foreign financing flows, and collapsing tourism revenues.

Smaller businesses are the lifeblood of Kenya's economy, accounting for about 81 percent of employment.

Manuel Moses, IFC Manager for Kenya, said IFC'slong-standing partnership with Equity Bank underscored its commitment to to Kenya's financial sector and the wider economy, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

"Keeping businesses solvent and protecting jobs are essential parts of IFC's response to the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19," Moses said.

IFC's portfolio in Kenya stood at $884 million as of June 30, 2020, with investments supporting growth and jobs in the financial, manufacturing, agribusiness, services, infrastructure and other sectors.

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