Dec 16, 2020 – As in many countries, the actions taken by the government to counter Covid had dire consequences for micro, small and medium-sized entrepreneurs in Kenya. Many markets and supply chains collapsed, lockdown and curfews restricted movement. Some of ECLOF’s clients were forced to close their businesses while others had to readjust their hours of operation and even their products in order to survive financially.
All along ECLOF’s loan officers stayed close to each client through phone calls and texts, to understand their situation, listen to their fears and challenges, reassure and advise. Where needed, loan repayments were deferred or stretched over longer periods. ECLOF quickly put in place a protection plan for clients and staff and a COVID-19 Management Guideline.
The speed of digitalization increased: for clients, remote payments were made easier and an app for training and group orientation was introduced. For staff, virtual meetings and training were set up. Internally ECLOF digitalized the credit procedure in order to save paper and time and adapt the workflow to remote work schemes.
As a result, clients and staff have demonstrated a high level of confidence in the institution.
One of ECLOF Kenya’s clients, Pamela Kananu Mwichu, of Meru country has shown ingenuity in adapting her business to the circumstances of the Covid:
A few years ago, she opened a small shop in the Kirindine market. Her skills, determination and the support of ECLOF enabled her to grow her business successfully until her store became the largest in the market. However, its survival was put at risk by the onset of the pandemic. She testifies:
“I sell consumables, household essentials and electronics. My shop is near Meru University so my biggest clientele are students.
When Covid-19 struck 9 months ago, schools were closed. With the students no longer around, demand dropped dramatically and the remaining stock expired on the shelves. I was left with no other source of income. I had to quickly find ways to make ends meet. I managed to overcome this ordeal by selling masks and sanitizers.
Fortunately, our prayers were answered: the schools re-opened and my shop too. Business is now picking up albeit gradually. However, I am relieved because I am now able to repay the outstanding loan that was overdue and to feed my family altogether.
Though the progress is slow, there is hope for better days ahead as the situation continues to improve day by day.”