The Coca-Cola System in Kenya, in partnership with like-minded institutions: County Government of Laikipia; Women Enterprise Fund (WEF); Absa; and Amref Health Africa in Kenya have today launched an initiative to support small and micro business outlets across the country to recover and reopen after the COVID-19 impact on the economy that saw most of them lose revenue and close.
The support is targetting 18,000 trade outlets across the country who will receive personal protective equipment including masks and faceshields, handwashing jerrycans, sanitizers, and garden furniture to enable them to enforce the required social distancing. They will also be provided with communication and awareness materials related to COVID-19 safety and precautions.
Phillipine Mtikitiki, Vice President and General Manager, Coca-Cola East & Central Africa Franchise 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 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, we as a system, have committed Kshs 125 million towards supporting our trade partners and waste collectors, eateries, restaurants, bars and kiosks”
Under the initiative, the traders and their staff will also benefit from COVID-19 health and safety training provided by Amref Health, to help them adhere to business opening and operating guidelines as per government directives. Absa, the financial business partner will facilitate access to business loans to the traders that require working capital to revive their enterprises, including restocking.
While speaking at the event, Absa Regional Corporate Director for East Africa, James Agin, explained that under this partnership, the bank shall support affected businesses across the entire value chain with revolving short-term working capital financing to bridge any cashflow challenges between stock purchase and receipt of payment from their customers.
“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,” he added.
“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,” said Dr. Meshack Ndirangu, Amref Health Africa in Kenya Country Director.
The initiative has partnered with the County Government of Laikipia’s Economic stimulus programme to provide trade finance to the county’s distributors and retailers. Hon. Ndiritu Muriithi, Governor, County Government of Laikipia, emphasized: “The retailers under this Coca-Cola scheme operating in Laikipia are eligible for business loans to help them restock and accelerate recovery from COVID-19 pandemic and will benefit from County Government of Laikipia’s interest cost subsidy of up to 5%. The county has already committed Kshs 123 million to the Economic Stimulus program, of which Kshs 73 million will cater for the interest cost subsidy.”
Eng. Charles Mwirigi, WEF CEO, underscored: “to complement the efforts by Coca-Cola, the Fund has committed over Kshs. 2 billion to provide affordable and relevant loans to support women traders besides business skills training to enable them to bounce back from the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.”
Small traders and waste collectors across the country have experienced unprecedented losses occasioned by the effects of the Coronavirus that continues to spread across the world. These losses have subjected households and families, and our environment to numerous challenges.
“We will continue to prioritise initiatives that support our traders as they reopen for business and we are already rolling out some initial support that will be augmented by what we are officially launching today. The response from our trade partners has so far has been very positive, and we hope that in the coming months they will regain consumer confidence and record more business,” said Xavier Selga, Managing Director, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa – Kenya.
“Many people and our environment has suffered during this pandemic. Investing back into the ‘small giants’ of our country, those micro and small businesses that are the backbone of Kenya’s resilience, is the least we could do. And we are humbled and honoured to be joined by other like-minded organisations to bring their services and skills to support those who need it most. Together, we believe we can emerge stronger and create a better shared future’, concluded Mtikitiki.