ADDIS ABABA – Mastercard Foundation has announced a partnership with a consortium of 11 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Ethiopia to repurpose their factories to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) in the fight against COVID-19.
The Foundation will commit more than USD 3.2 million from the MasterCard Foundation COVID19 Recovery and Resilience Program which was created specifically to assist institutions and communities in Africa to withstand and respond to the short-term impacts of this pandemic, while strengthening their resilience in the long-run.
The six-month Rescuing Enterprises Through Production Repurposing Program will enable the 11SMEs to continue running their businesses and avoid having to retrench their 1,060 employees, the majority being young women.
The contribution from the Mastercard Foundation will support the repurposing of factories and basic textile machines, as well as renting unused equipment to manufacture protective equipment for health care workers and masks for the general public.
The SMEs are Enzi Shoes, FIF Trading PLC, Gaber Textiles, Habte Garment, KABANA Leather, Kootekett Leather, Mafi, Meron Addis Abeba, Sadula Business PLC, The Look Interiors, and Yefikir.
“Like most SMEs in Ethiopia, COVID-19 has severely impacted our business as our revenues are mostly generated from exporting, which was shut down in March,” said Semhal Guesh, CEO of KABANA Leather and Chair of the consortium.
“We are empowered and excited to be participating in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
Alemayehu Konde Koira, Country Head of Mastercard Foundation Ethiopia, said, like in many developing economies, SMEs in Ethiopia make a significant contribution to local employment and to the gross domestic product through exports.
“An economic downturn due to COVID-19, to which SMEs are especially vulnerable, hits developing economies at their heart,” Alemayehu said.
“With small reserves and limited working capital, many SMEs would struggle to survive a prolonged period of reduced economic activity, so the timing of this partnership is critical”.
The program will also include the onboarding of an eCommerce marketplace to enable the SMEs to sell their products online which negates the impact of social distancing while increasing their and resilience in the long-term.
Kifiya Financial Technologies, an existing Mastercard Foundation partner, will lead the management of the fund, and provide the online platform and business support at no cost to the SMEs.
“We are excited to be able to extend our partnership with the Mastercard Foundation to enable SMEs to access markets and credit, if needed, through leveraging our eCommerce, eDelivery, and digital payment technologies,” said Munir Duri, CEO and Founder of Kifiya.
The Mastercard Foundation is also responding to COVID-19 on a continental level with a commitment of 40 million US dollars to the Africa CDC’s Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT) last week.
These funds will be used to purchase 1 million test kits, as well as train and deploy 10,000 community healthcare workers and 80 surveillance rapid responders to support contact tracing as well as strengthen the Africa CDC’s capacity to oversee a continental response to the pandemic.
Image: Semhal Guesh, CEO of KABANA Leather and Chair of the consortium [Photo File/CESO]