Equity Bank has set up a 200 billion shillings pot to lend to small businesses as part of helping them weather the ravages of Covid-19.
While revealing the prize pool over the weekend, the lender said borrowers eligible for the line of credit should be assessed.
They must also be members of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI). The terms of the loan include a repayment period of up to three years with single-digit interest rates below market rates.
The prize pool will be in addition to contributions from the private sector in the fight against the pandemic which has already cost at least one million jobs and is expected to cost the economy at least 2,000 billion shillings.
KNCCI predicts that access to credit on concessional terms, including easier repayment plans that include extended grace periods, could reverse the impact of the coronavirus and help the economy emerge from a potential recession.
Equity has already made its donations to the Covid-19 response fund. Safaricom also contributed 6.5 billion shillings – in cash and in kind.
Citizens from diverse backgrounds, in addition to business leaders, have also joined in the fight against the pandemic, adding to the efforts of various corporate entities and lobbies.
Many people have contributed anonymously, with donations ranging from 100 to 1 million shillings, according to official documents.
Almost two months after the confirmation of the first case of the virus in Kenya, more than 2 billion shillings have been collected under the Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund.
In addition to supporting the health sector, which was the first to be exposed to the scourge, most of the funds were channeled into the business world.
At the same time, funds were spent on the purchase of protective equipment for caregivers. Records show the cost of managing a confirmed Covid19 patient during the treatment period is around 1 million shillings.
Estimates for coverage were revealed by the Kenyatta National Hospital after Patient 1 was discharged from the country.
It has emerged that the economy is bearing the brunt of the pandemic due to lost opportunities and layoffs of employees, especially in the aviation and hospitality sectors.
“Equity Bank has committed 200 billion shillings to support chamber fundraising activities, train and build the capacity of three million chamber members across the country, support regional businesses, and promote and protect jobs and businesses,” Richard Ngatia, president of KNCCI, said in a statement.
Startups, which provide at least four out of five jobs in the country, are also the most critical pillar of the economy. Their exposure since the start of the pandemic has been devastating.
Many SMEs have been forced to lay off workers or send them on unpaid leave as they assess the impact of the pandemic.
Some projections have indicated that the virus could be a headache for Kenya and the mainland for the rest of the year, meaning huge resources are needed to tackle it.
Mr. Ngatia had attended the fundraising meeting with key bank executives, including Equity Group Managing Director James Mwangi and Country Managing Director Polycarp Igathe.
“In the future, the bank is committed to helping the chamber support SMEs and strengthen the business community,” said the boss of KNCCI.
Ngatia joins the list of donors to the fight against Covid19 thanks to her personal contribution of Sh4 million to the fund.
He also donated personal protective equipment worth an estimated 6 million shillings to traders and healthcare workers.
Mwangi had earlier given the Sh 300 million donation to his family and Equity put Sh 300 million into the same pot.
In total, MasterCard, Mwangi and Equity Bank contributed 1.1 billion shillings to the Covid-19 response pot.
Peter Ndegwa, CEO of Safaricom, had previously indicated the contributions of the firm.
“We not only want to appreciate the great job the fundraisers do, but also facilitate their communication as they continue to perform their duties,” he said.
Safaricom’s contribution includes monthly plans for frontline government health workers – 12 GB of data. It also includes 600 minutes of voice calls and 2,000 SMS per month.
Safaricom also granted the Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund a 50 GB data set. It also granted 3,500 minutes of voice calls and 10,000 SMS to 15 members of the fund to support them in its proper functioning. .
Guru Raval, who is a member of the Covid-19 Response Fund, told The Standard that the support received from institutions and individual donors has been overwhelming, citing that the donations have been in cash and in kind – including food.
“We have very good support and the fund expects a lot more from businesses and individual donors,” he said.
Mr. Raval and his companies, Devki Group and National Cement, have contributed 201 million shillings, including 80 million shillings in oxygen.
Oxygen is distributed by ventilators to manage patients unable to breathe on their own and requiring critical support in intensive care units.
Other major donors include ABSA, which donated more than 200,000 masks on Friday, in addition to an earlier cash donation of 50 million shillings.
Jeremy Awori, Managing Director of ABSA, is a member of the Board of Directors of the Covid-19 Response Fund, chaired by the Managing Director of Kenya Breweries Ltd, Jane Karuku. East African Breweries Ltd, which owns Kenya Breweries Ltd, had previously supplied hand sanitizers worth 50 million shillings.
KCB Group, the country’s largest lender, donated 150 million shillings. The contribution was matched by the National Treasury and the Association of Media Owners.
The Cooperative Bank and NCBA both donated 100 million shillings, while the Hindu Council of Kenya donated 100 million shillings in cash and an additional 10 million shillings in masks.
The Taxi-hail Bolt app provides a rare type of support by helping pregnant women reach hospitals, especially during the 7:00 p.m. – 5:00 a.m. curfew hours.
Travel is restricted during the curfew period, although some fleets from the different taxi apps have been allowed to operate.
“We hope this will help alleviate some of the anxiety that short-term pregnant women face during the pandemic by helping them access safe and reliable transportation during curfew hours,” the said. company.
Bolt’s rival Uber has announced it will offer 5,000 free trips to healthcare workers and 2,000 free deliveries to Uber Eats as workers coordinate all coronavirus efforts in the country.
The other private sector donors are Capwell Industries and Broadway Bakeries which respectively donated foodstuffs worth 20 million shillings and 25 million shillings. Sanlam and UAP both donated 14 million shillings.