The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough for businesses and people at large.
Soon, the pandemic will hit a one-year mark, which is inflicting two kinds of shocks in Kenya: a health shock and an economic shock.
Given the nature of the disease, which is highly contagious, the ways to contain the spread include policy actions such as the imposition of social distancing, self-isolation at home, closure of institutions, and public facilities, restrictions on mobility, and even lock-down of an entire country – although Kenya has not gotten to those extremes, yet.
Nevertheless, the actions taken by Kenya have led to dire consequences for the economy. In other words, effective containment of the disease requires the economy of a country to stop its normal functioning.
And that is what has been happening. Some businesses closed shop, while others continue to see reduced revenues due to poor purchasing power brought forth by the pangs of the virus.
The issues have not escaped government bodies and global businesses that have the power to inject new life, particularly for the most affected groups.
One of the corporations that has taken a part in alleviating Kenya’s economic constraints is The Coca-Cola company. The help is in the form of a partnership with Laikipia County, Women Enterprise Fund (WEF), Absa, and Amref Health Africa – all of which look forward to supporting small and micro business outlets across the state.
The campaign also aims to see Kenya recover and reopen the economy following months of revenue losses for thousands of businesses.
The campaign, dubbed Open Like Never Before, will target 18000 trade outlets in Kenya with a KES 125 million budget.
The outlets will then receive personal protective equipment such as face shields and masks, as well as handwashing jerrycans, sanitizers, and garden furniture to enforce social distancing.
The promotion will also see the businesses provided with communication and awareness materials related to Coronavirus safety and precautions.
Amref Health’s input will include health and safety training for traders and their staff.
Absa is the campaign’s financial business partner, and will help businesses get access to loans required to jumpstart their enterprises.
At the same time, the initiative, alongside the County Government of Laikipia’s Economic stimulus programme, will provide trade finance to distributors and retailers in the county. The retailers will also qualify for business loans, as well as the County’s interest cost subsidy of up to 5 percent.
Laikipia County says that it has already committed KES 123 million in the program, of which KES 73 million will cover the interest subsidy.
Overall, the pandemic has posed an unprecedented challenge for kenya. Given the large size of the population, the precarious situation of the economy, especially of the financial sector in the pre-COVID-19 period, and the economy’s dependence on informal labour, lockdowns and other social distancing measures are turning out to be hugely disruptive. The Government and corporations have recognized the challenge and have responded but this response should be just the beginning.
What they said
Over the last few months, we have been focusing on the health and safety of our employees and communities. We are now extending our support to our local economies and micro-small businesses. The closure of the economy at the time was the correct action to take to curb the spread of the virus, and we commend the Government of Kenya. To help those who have always been at the heart of our social fabric but had to temporarily close through the months of lockdown, we as a system, have committed KES 125 million towards supporting our trade partners and waste collectors, eateries, restaurants, bars and kiosks.
– Phillipine Mtikitiki, Vice President and General Manager, Coca-Cola East & Central Africa Franchise
We will offer small and medium businesses unsecured loans of up to 10 million shillings which is the highest in the market, as well as LPO financing and invoice discounting of up to 50 million shilling amongst other benefits. We will also offer insurance and asset-based financing. This will allow the distributors and retailers the flexibility to accept extended payment terms from manufacturers as well as increase their credit should they require it.
– Absa Regional Corporate Director for East Africa, James Agin
We are delighted to be part of this noble initiative that will contribute to ensuring that our economy starts to grow again and that businesses comply to national health and safety guidelines. Our role in this initiative is to empower traders with the knowledge that enables them to operate safely while ensuring they maintain a safe space for their customers. This will be done through an easy to understand training curriculum and application of a set standard of operating procedures.
– Dr. Meshack Ndirangu, Amref Health Africa in Kenya Country Director
In addition to Coca-Cola’s support to our traders, the county is partnering with various financial institutions to provide businesses in Laikipia that have single business permits with working capital injection and advisory services on the realization that it is the key barrier to help them re-stock and accelerate recovery from Covid-19 pandemic.
– Hon. Ndiritu Muriithi, Governor, County Government of Laikipia County