Recognising the devastating effects of COVID-19 on businesses and families in Kenya, Mastercard Foundation has launched the COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Programme (CRRP) to help micro- small- medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) respond to and withstand the impact of pandemic while strengthening their resilience in the long run
A study by the World Bank published in January 2021 found that small and micro-sized businesses were more severely affected by the pandemic than larger firms and those small businesses were often forced to permanently close or temporarily cease operations as compared to larger firms.
The CRRP provided collateral- and interest-free loans in several categories to businesses in different sectors. It also offered training and other support to enable them utilise funds prudently and manage risks during the pandemic It primarily targeted women- and youth-led businesses across all sectors, including wholesale and retail trade, clothing and fashion, and agriculture.
The programme was implemented by a consortium led by Grassroots Business Fund (GBF) and included Cardno Emerging Markets and microfinancier, 4G Capital together with Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI); Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA); and WomenWork Network (WWN) and Cardno coordinated applications and the necessary due diligence screening. 4G managed the disbursement of loans to successful applicants and collected repayments.
The programme was fully digital, and all applications, assessments, disbursement, repayments as well as training were conducted virtually. A unique aspect of the programme was the fast turnaround, from conception to deployment, owing to the urgency of the situation, and the fact that it was entirely virtual in response to the constraints imposed by the COVID outbreak. The programme created new digital channels to reach MSMEs and leveraged existing ones such as MPESA.
By June 2021, more than US$6.07mn in loan capital had been disbursed to roughly 21,000 borrowers by the programme.