The African Guarantee Fund (AGF) and Equity Group signed an agreement which will provide a $75 million (Kshs 8.25 billion) guarantee fund to four of Equity’s bank subsidiaries within the Group.
The facility is earmarked to support Equity to scale up its lending activities to women-owned and managed Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and DRC, ensuring women are able to access credit at affordable interest at a time when it is most needed.
James Mwangi, Managing Director and CEO of Equity Group said with the facility from African Guarantee Fund, where they share a mission of supporting women MSMEs as they will be strongly positioned to continue to offer customers particularly women in business access to funding at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact negatively on businesses.
“This will ensure livelihoods and opportunities within the economy continue to accelerate as we revitalize economic activities to enable the economy to bounce back amidst the rollout of the vaccine. Our commitment is to continue working with MSMES to finance them to recover and thrive, and where necessary transform and adapt their businesses to the changing environment and seize new business opportunities.”
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Equity launched an offensive and defensive approach to support customers to sustain themselves while innovating alongside MSMEs who are leveraging on the opportunities that have presented within the crisis.
The Group committed to loan repayment accommodation for up to 45% of the customers whose cashflows and operation cycle were deemed likely to be negatively impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Equity made the prudent decision to ensure cashflow was not impaired and in its third-quarter 2020 results, reported a 30% growth in its loan book in support of its customers who saw opportunities of green shoots and diversifications in the COVID-19 environment.
Most of the new opportunities funded were in manufacturing of PPE’s, logistics, online businesses, agro-processing, fast moving consumer goods and agriculture value chains. Equity’s prudent approach to conserving its cashflow and supporting MSMEs through the COVID-19 crisis has provided confidence to its lending partners.
AGF Group CEO Jules Ngankam said that the partnership with Equity Group is of great significance to the economies of Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC given our mutual focus on the SME sector which has massive potential to drive economic growth.
“This partnership will also foster sustainable development particularly for women-led/owned businesses who will be supported under our Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa initiative and green business who will be supported under our Green Guarantee Facility. Working with Equity Group indeed provides us with a broad opportunity to create impact alongside their various initiatives.”
This is the fifth tranche for Equity Group after having signed a $50 million (Ksh 5.5 billion) loan facility with IFC in September; a $100 million (Ksh 11.0 billion) from Proparco in October and a €125 million (Ksh 16.5 billion) loan facility signed two weeks ago with the European Investment Bank and a $100 million (Ksh 11 billion) Credit Facility with Leading European Development Banks DEG, FMO and CDC-UK to fortify credit flows and liquidity to MSMEs totalling Ksh 52.25 billion.