Inside Politics

Boost for Kisumu SMEs as leaders ease Covid shocks

Friday, September 24th, 2021 00:00 |
Fish trader. Photo/File

Kepher Otieno

Small and medium enterprises owners in Kisumu affected by the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic are set for a major boost as leaders in the county unveil a multi-million shilling spending plan to empower them. 

In a move aimed at cushioning the traders and women groups in table banking, Governor Anyang Nyong’o targets to spend up to Sh150 million to finance traders.

“We want to help businesses that Covid-19 affected both in supply and demand sides, thus throwing some of them out of business by capital refinancing,” he said.

He has already rolled out the loaning scheme by disbursing funds to provide flexible loans to affected traders in the county.

“So far we have given out Sh24 million and we expect to dish out more. This is a better approach to help startups and those seeking to grow their trades,’’ he said.

The government also plans to come up with a revolving financial scheme that is sustainable so that the business support  programme does not run short of cash.

Unlike in the past where such kitty attracted small percentage of funding, taking only 5 per cent of the County Budget, this time it will increase to 15 per cent, according to Nyong’o.

Nyong’o spoke amid similar efforts by Office of the County Woman Representative, which also seeks to empower SMEs, especially women in table banking.

Woman Rep Rosa Buyu has also set aside over Sh30 million of the Sh42 million she gets from National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF) for this.

Currently, both large and small businesses are feeling the effects of Covid-19 after seeing their incomes disappear overnight following the pandemic outbreak.

The effect on SMEs is especially severe, particularly because of higher levels of vulnerability and lower resilience related to their size and market fortunes.

Buyu said unemployment will likely worsen if the risks associated with Covid-19 persist and containment measures are sustained or escalated. 

“This is why we have to refocus on what will empower our vulnerable women and youth in active businesses or those wishing to start up,’’ she said.

The efforts by Nyong’o and Buyu could be complemented by credit guarantee schemes for loans provided by commercial banks.

Speaking recently while distributing cheques to traders in Holo Area, Kisumu West sub-County, Buyu urged commercial banks to provide more soft loans to SMEs with flexibility in repayments.

“The government should also recapitalise commercial banks and micro-financial institution by loosening the liquidity reserve requirements,’’ she said.

This will see them provide financial institutions with the extra liquidity required to provide flexible emergency loans,’’ Buyu added.

Seed capital

Buyu distributed cheques worth Sh500,000 to16 women traders in Holo as a seed capital to expand their businesses.

She said her office has issued cheques worth Sh3.5 million in the last three months. “We are still going to issue upto Sh30 million and over before the year ends,” said Buyu. 

Beneficiaries of NGAAF expressed happiness and called for more financial aid. Penina Adega, chair of women dealing in Tilapia fish lauded the leaders’ move as good in  the wake of  severe drops in income and interrupted supply chains.

“We are happy with the initiative by the Woman Rep and we urge her to uphold the good gesture,” she said.

A vegetable vendor was also happy that her group, Togetherness vegetables got a cheque of Sh67, 000.

“This will boost our business,” she said. Judith Ogecha also got Sh30,000 to grow her cereal business which almost went down due to the coronavirus shocks.

“We thank NGAAF kitty and Woman Rep team and urge for more money to be disbursed to assist the affected businesses from possible collapse,” she said.

Some sectors, such as tourism and transportation, were also affected, thus contributing to reduced business and consumer confidence, with some saying clients shied away from their services.

Although, Boda Boda chairman at Holo market, Paul Ouko was equally happy as three  of their groups got a cheque for Sh120,000, he rued Covid 19 effects.

They asked Buyu and Nyong’o to give them designated stations to operate because at times they operated under scorching sun, which was also hurting.

“We are also asking that boda boda riders be trained to get driving licences,” said Ouko, adding if  sponsored for training it would add great value to their trade.

Josephine Anyiso, was equally happy to receive over Sh50,000 from the kitty, saying the leader’s intervention came late and this ought to be the trend always.

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