KENYA – IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has announced a US$50 million (KSh5.4 billion) 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 is part of IFC’s global US$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.

The loan will support hundreds of Kenyan businesses in the manufacturing, health, trade, transport, and consumer goods sectors,

“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,” Dr. James Mwangi, Equity Group CEO, said.

“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 US$50 million facility.”

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’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,” Manuel Moses, IFC Country Manager for Kenya, said.

Smaller businesses are the lifeblood of Kenya’s economy, accounting for about 81 percent of employment.

Meanwhile, in Uganda, IFC has provided a US$4 million loan, part of a US$6.5 million financing package, to the International Medical Group (IMG), a subsidiary of Ciel Healthcare Limited, to enable the healthcare services provider to address the impact of COVID-19 on its operations.

IFC had announced that it will work with commercial bank clients to expand trade finance and working capital lines as well as directly support its corporate clients, with a focus on strategic sectors including medical equipment and pharmaceuticals, to sustain supply chains and limit downside risks.

It committed US$5.6 billion to private sector development in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa in fiscal year 2020, supporting businesses across the two regions to launch, grow, provide jobs and fight the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, IFC committed nearly US$2 billion in short-term trade financing to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Since March, IFC also deployed US$886 million through the Global Trade Finance Program (GTFP) envelope of its COVID-19 Fast Track Facility to support SMEs in the Middle East and Africa involved in global supply chains; almost 92% of the GTFP volume deployed was in low-income and fragile countries in the regions.

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