International Finance Corporation(IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, has announced a Sh500 million loan to Equity Bank Kenya to help it increase working capital and trade-related lending to its small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) clients, especially those facing COVID-19 related challenges.
The loan, which will ultimately support hundreds of Kenyan businesses in the manufacturing, health, trade, transport, and consumer goods sectors, is part of IFC’s global $8 billion fast-track COVID-19 facility, announced in March and designed to help businesses maintain operations and jobs during—and after— the COVID-19 crisis.
Dr. James Mwangi, Equity Group CEO, said, “IFC’s loan, part of our business continuity management plan, will help Equity Bank extend much-needed support to our 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. I call on 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 Sh500 million facility.”
Manuel Moses, IFC Country Manager for Kenya, said, “IFC’s longstanding partnership with Equity Bank underscores our commitment to Kenya’s financial sector and wider economy, especially during these difficult economic times. Keeping businesses solvent and protecting jobs are essential parts of IFC’s response to the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19.”
The COVID-19 pandemic 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 life blood of Kenya’s economy, accounting for about 81 percent of employment.
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.
IFC has reiterated commitment to scaling investment and advisory support in Kenya, especially within the context of Kenya’s Big Four Agenda of manufacturing, affordable housing, affordable healthcare, and food security.