Equity has signed up to the Young Africa Works – Kenya; a public private partnership between the Kenya Government, Mastercard Foundation and the private sector. The transformative and holistic program, funded by Mastercard Foundation to the tune of Ksh 30 billion will transition 5 million Kenyan youth to dignified work by 2023.
Equity will deploy its banking infrastructure as well as the Equity Group Foundation platform to implement the program. “Through the bank, we shall extend affordable loans to over 600,000 entrepreneurs while Equity Group Foundation will offer free digital literacy, financial and entrepreneurship training, as well as market linkages in an effort to support entrepreneurs in scaling up their business and create more jobs for young people,” said Dr Mwangi the CEO and Managing Director of Equity Group Holdings Plc. He added “We are excited to be among the pioneer signatories to this ambitious and transformative program. We will leverage our institutional knowledge, skills and expertise in serving the micro, small and medium enterprises to reach and impact over 600,000 entrepreneurs with the right business skills, financial management and market linkages in order to scale up their businesses and create more job opportunities especially in the rural areas. We trust that these entrepreneurs will stimulate the value chains that they operate in causing a much bigger multiplier effect and thus contributing to the goal of creating 5 million jobs in the next five years”
Dr Mwangi noted that strengthening the MSMEs will equip them with the right capacity and capabilities to bridge the corporate sector and narrow the gap between the formal and informal sectors in the country through linkages. This will in turn strengthen business ecosystems and form formidable networks that will benefit from shared knowledge and best practices.
In the first 18 months of project implementation, Equity will extend loans of up to Ksh 150 billion to 140,000 MSMEs and scale to Ksh 420 billion to 600,000 MSMEs over a five year period. Equity Group Foundation (EGF) will provide digital and financial literacy as well as entrepreneurship training to the entrepreneurs. It will also provide business development support and market linkages to enable owners to grow and sustain their businesses as well as mentor other entrepreneurs in the network.
Equity has been investing in internal capacity building in relationship management and business development for MSMEs in all sectors of the economy. The skills gained will be instrumental in the execution of this program while the high investment in digitization and virtualization of the banking services will aid efficient provision of services to the target beneficiaries across the country. “With an expansive branch and agency network in the country, coupled with a highly skilled talent force in entrepreneurship training, youth empowerment, mentorship and relationship management, Equity is well positioned to be an implementing partner of the Young Africa Works in Kenya,” said Dr Mwangi.
While launching the program, H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta lauded partners, including Equity Bank Group, who will provide financial and digital literacy and entrepreneurship training to MSMEs to support owners to grow and sustain their businesses and to mentor other entrepreneurs in the network. “When small firms and entrepreneurs access financial services, they obtain the resources they require to grow, expand into new markets and opportunities, create jobs and establish inter-generational wealth,” he added.
Speaking during the launch of the program Mastercard Foundation president and CEO Reeta Roy said “Kenya has a vibrant entrepreneurial culture, a strong private sector, and an enabling policy environment. Young Africa Works – Kenya builds on this momentum to prepare and connect young people to opportunities that will grow the economy and transform their lives.”
Investment in young people is critical for economic growth and pays dividends over the long-term. With the right investments in relevant skills, financial services, networks and markets, these young people will find dignified and fulfilling work which will improve their lives and those of their communities.”
Equity has had a long partnership with Mastercard Foundation in implementing successful social impact programs especially the transformative and globally acclaimed Wings to Fly program, and the Financial Knowledge for Africa program (FiKA).
EGF has to date supported to 16,168 students at over 600 public secondary boarding schools through its Wings to Fly program with Mastercard Foundation committed to sponsoring 10,000 bright but socioeconomically challenged students. Under the FiKa program, 1,739,478 women and youth have graduated in financial education. (FIKA) while another 44,111 MSMEs in Kenya have been trained.