Mastercard Foundation announces key partnerships to drive COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Efforts for MSMEs in Kenya

Nairobi, Kenya – August 6, 2020 – The Mastercard Foundation today announced a series of key partnerships that will bring relief and build the resilience of micro-, small- and medium- enterprises (MSMEs) in Kenya.

As the effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic ripple through economies, women and young people are expected to bear the greatest burden as a result of reduced employment opportunities, layoffs and poorly performing MSMEs, most of which are led and owned by women and young people.

The organisations that will start rolling out the interventions targeting MSMEs this month, through support from the Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program, are Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), WomenWork Network, Kenya National Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KNCCI), and TechnoServe, with technical support from the Grassroots Business Fund and 4G Capital.

The commitment from the Mastercard Foundation to the four lead partner organisations totals USD15 million and will support a series of interventions that will facilitate business continuity, especially for those MSMEs led and owned by young women and help to cushion the economy in Kenya.

“MSME’s are the backbone of the economy and they need support more than ever.  The Mastercard Foundation is proud to work with these partners to deliver tailored support to tens of thousands of MSMEs with the aim of helping them sustain their activities and continue to provide opportunities for dignified work,” said Daniel Hailu, Regional Head Eastern and Southern Africa at the Mastercard Foundation.

KEPSA, in close collaboration with the Government of Kenya, will target 400 MSMEs to access an emergency finance facility that will be managed by Grassroots Business Fund as the independent Fund Manager. The partnership will include the rollout of a virtual MSMEs business recovery hub to provide business development service as well as increasing KEPSAs ability to support women businesses.

The partnership with WomenWork Network through their Rebuild Program, will focus on low cost loans to  women-led MSMEs to enable the businesses to withstand the significant revenue drops they are currently experiencing. The low cost emergency loans will enable them to sustain jobs that may otherwise have been lost and access tailored online business training. The Rebuild program will be available to the over 4,000 women who are members of the  #Womenworkke Facebook group.

The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) will run interventions that include low cost businesses loans to deserving MSMEs and a trade digital platform to support an e-commerce ecosystem to make the enterprises more agile and resilient.

The intervention will target 15,000 direct members of KNCCI, supplemented by 85,000 KNCCI association members, especially focusing on the hawkers, the fashion industry, Jua Kali, retailers, and restaurants.

Grassroots Business Fund will manage the facility that will provide concessionary loans to members of the 3 organisations, KNCCI, KEPSA and WomenWorks Networks. The loans will boost the microenterprises  by providing them with working capital that allows them to navigate challenges brought on by the COVID-19 health crisis. The loans to microenterprises will target businesses country-wide and priority will be given to youth and women-led enterprises and to certain sectors such as agriculture, retail, healthcare.

TechnoServe will work with 28,000 microretailers, primarily women and young people, through the Micro-enterprises Strengthened for Pandemic Adaptation and Resilience in Kenya (mSPARK) program, providing targeted digital technical assistance and facilitating financial support through financial-technology credit provider 4G Capital. The emergency repayable business grants will support overhead expenses such as salaries, rent, and utilities, and, in conjunction with the technical assistance provided through the program, will enable microretailers to source vital products and digitize their operations. This program, which is being rolled out in Nairobi and surrounding metropolitan counties as well as Mombasa and Kilifi counties, will help to stabilize and strengthen the resilience of microretailers who own general shops, salons, restaurants and eateries that are essential to the economies and food security of vulnerable communities.

“I have a shop called Network Shop in Kiganjo Thika on the outskirts of Nairobi. When COVID-19 struck I didn’t know what to do and that caused me a lot of panic and stress. I was struggling to keep my business running and I almost closed down due to the financial hardships. A repayable grant will be a lifesaving opportunity as I will have the funds to stay afloat and not have to close down my shop. Being trained on how to navigate through such a crisis will allow me get out of the crisis better and stronger,” said 24-year old business owner, wife and mother of twins, Elizabeth Jeremiah.

Each of the program partners will share information with the public on how to access the technical and financial support. Young people engaged in micro and small enterprises are especially encouraged to apply through any one of the partners.


The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) is the apex body of the private sector in Kenya, established to drive economic development through year on year improvements in the business environment, by addressing cross cutting business issues, driving investments and addressing socio-economic issues with partners. KEPSA brings together business associations, corporate bodies, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups to speak in one voice, working closely with Government and other stakeholders through structured Public Private Dialogue (PPD) platforms and other engagement mechanisms.

About WomenWork Network

Founded in Kenya with pan-African ambition, WomenWork Network is a technology-driven company focused on the advancement of African women entrepreneurs through digital peer-to-peer communities, knowledge enhancement and access to capital to improve their chances of success. WomenWork Network focuses on first time women entrepreneurs who are navigating a rapidly changing business environment. They are the missing middle contributing to Africa’s economies today and who will be tomorrow’s leaders.


The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) was established in 1965 as the umbrella body of the private sector in Kenya. The Chamber is an autonomous, non-profit, membership-based and private sector lobby institution with countrywide outreach of 47 County Chambers, and thousands of members countrywide.  KNCCI delivers its mandate through enterprise development programs and growth solutions across various business value chains.  Market development, training, advocacy and network are the key pillars upon which KNCCI is anchored and extended to the entire business community, and all sectors of the economy.

About Grassroots Business Fund

Grassroots Business Fund (GBF) is an impact investment organization that utilizes the power of blended capital to invest in traditionally under-financed businesses. GBF’s mission is to grow viable, sustainable, and inclusive businesses that generate incomes or cost savings for lower income people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. GBF leverages it’s experienced in-country investment teams as well as local technical assistance providers to source and strengthen its investee companies.

About TechnoServe

TechnoServe is a leader in harnessing the power of the private sector to help people lift themselves out of poverty. A non-profit organization operating in 29 countries, we work with hard working men and women in the developing world to build competitive farms, businesses, and industries. By linking people to information, capital, and markets, we have helped millions to create lasting prosperity for their families and communities.

 About 4G Capital

4G Capital has supported the sustainable growth of micro-enterprises in Africa since 2013, providing financial literacy and enterprise training with right-sized working capital loans.  Clients receive training via mobile apps and face-to-face outreach.  Loans are accessed using mobile money in under two minutes with either smart or feature phones.  4G Capital consistently achieves very high collections rates without collateral or refinancing its clients by only lending to viable businesses on terms that are right-sized for them.  4G Capital has over 100,000 clients and is on target to positively impact over 1 million people by 2021.  With operations in Kenya and Uganda, award-winning 4G Capital is now scaling across the continent and expanding its suite of products and services.

About the Mastercard Foundation

The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work.  It is one of the largest, private foundations in the world with a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. The Foundation was created by Mastercard in 2006 as an independent organization with its own Board of Directors and management.

For more information on the Foundation, please visit: www.mastercardfdn.org

For additional information, please contact:

Helen White
Strategy Lead, Program Communications, Mastercard Foundation
+27 76 166 5372, hwhite@mastercardfdn.org

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