Team Europe partners with Equity Bank to support Kenyan business and agriculture amid COVID-19
The European Union and the European Investment Bank, working together as Team Europe, are providing €120 million (KES 15.8 billion) of new support for Equity Bank to enhance financing to Kenyan companies most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
The financing package will support access to finance at appropriate conditions for Kenyan SMEs, including in the agriculture sector, through €100 million loans from the European Investment Bank to Equity Bank and €20 million of European Union (EU) grant support.
New technical assistance, backed by the European Union, will further strengthen Equity Bank's capacity to assess, execute and monitor longer-term agricultural value chains investment projects and further develop provision of long-term financing for agriculture.
“As an inclusive regional financial institution these facilities strengthen Equity's position to further enhance the strength of MSMEs which are key actors in value chains and ecosystems in the economy. By ensuring their survival and growth the MSMEs will continue to protect jobs, create more jobs and support lives and livelihoods in society, serving to create resilience as the pandemic subsides, vaccines become available in Kenya, and market growth returns. We value our long-term partnership with the EIB and the European Union who have walked with us and our customers on our path for sustained human development for many years including their investment to scale Kilimo Biashara. We thank them for supporting our efforts to strengthen the role of MSMEs to stimulate the economy back to prosperity, and hence support lives and livelihoods through market growth.”
Thomas Östros, Vice President of the European Investment Bank yesterday said:
“New EIB and EU support for leading Kenyan partner Equity Bank will help entrepreneurs, business and agricultural small holders across Kenya to access finance and better withstand the economic challenges and business uncertainties caused by COVID-19. Today's new agreements demonstrate Team Europe and Kenya joining forces to beat COVID-19 and help business flourish.”
Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships yesterday said:
“The EU is working to revamp our cooperation with our African partners to tackle the common challenges that affect people's lives, in particular the youth. We want to build back better together from the COVID-19 pandemic to guarantee a sustainable, green and just recovery. The SME sector is a lifeline for employment, including for the most vulnerable populations and in particular in critical sectors such as agriculture. Agreements like the one signed today to support Kenyan SMEs to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 and will help us to achieve this.”
Kenya's National Treasury observed a downturn growth rate from 6.1 % to 2.5 % in 2020, making it the worst year for the country in more than a decade. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which sustain the highest proportion of employment in the region, are the most vulnerable with limited access to external financing.
The Kenya – Team Europe COVID-19 Response Access to Finance and Kenya Agriculture Value Chain Facility initiatives were formally signed in Equity Bank HQ Nairobi at a COVID-19 compliant event attended by the European Union Ambassador to Kenya, EIB Regional Representative in East Africa and Kenyan stakeholders. EIB Vice President Thomas Östros participated remotely.
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