Equity Group chief gives own Sh300m to Covid-19 kitty

Thursday, April 30th, 2020 00:00 |
Equity Group chief executive officer and managing director James Mwangi. Photo/PD/ FILE

Seth Onyango and Hilary Mageka

Equity Group chief executive officer  and managing director James Mwangi’s family yesterday donated Sh300 million as part of Sh1.1 billion pledged by the Equity Group Foundation and Mastercard toward the Covid-19 response kitty.

Mwangi’s gesture is one of the biggest personal donations in the history of public benevolence in Kenya.

In an unprecedented move, the contribution was buttressed by Sh500 million magnanimity from the Mastercard Foundation and Sh300 million from Equity Bank.

It is not the first time Mwangi has made such  donations, having contributed Sh100 million in 2013 to Meru University to develop an innovative technology and entrepreneurship complex.

Yesterday, the Equity Bank said the funds will go towards the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline medical personnel dealing with Covid-19 patients in public hospitals.

Equity Bank Foundation will work in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund in this endeavour to ensure a coordinated national effort.

Speaking while announcing the initiative, Mwangi said it started when his attention was drawn to a group of students and doctors who were raising funds for PPEs for young post-graduate students especially in Kenyatta National and Referral Hospital (KNH). 

“When I shared the need with my family, a robust discussion revealed the urgency to holistically address the issue as it was not prudent to provide the PPEs to students without also focusing on the plight of the doctors, nurses, clinical officers, and medical staff,” said Mwangi who is a member of Kenya’s Covid-19 Emergency Fund Board.

Structure initiative

“We invited the CEO of the Kenya Medical Association and a group of doctors from KNH and University of Nairobi where we established the need for PPEs for medical staff handling Covid-19 patients in the country. A team of seven was formed to help structure this initiative,” he said.

President and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation Reeta Roy said care workers are at the frontline of caring for Kenyans, safeguarding community health. 

“We must keep them safe. We are grateful that this partnership meets the immediate needs precipitated by Covid-19, which the Foundation is prioritising through our Mastercard Foundation Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience Programme,” she said.

It comes as National Treasury opened a special purpose account with local banks to receive voluntary pay cut in response to the fight against the coronavirus crisis.

Appearing before the Senate ad-hoc committee on Covid-19 pandemic via Zoom, National Treasury Cabinet secretary Ukur Yattani said he has directed all accounting officers in various State agencies and parastatals to effect the voluntary salary cuts.

“We have opened an account where the voluntary pay cut will be channelled and we have directed respectively accounting officers to effect the same,” said Yattani.

He revealed that most public officers including fellow Cabinet secretaries, principal secretaries, chief administrative officers (CASs) and other senior government officers had written to him giving consent to have their pay deducted.

“Each of them wrote to us and I think the money will be effected end of this month, probably in the next two or three days,” he said.

He said the National Treasury upon “further clarification” will decide whether the money will go towards supporting Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund.

Social distancing

Meanwhile, Mwangi has appealed to Kenyans to observe  recommendations from the Ministry of Health on social distancing, washing hands and sanitising regularly, limitation of movement, self-quarantining when in doubt, and wearing face masks when in public. 

“By observing these recommendations, we shall collectively, as a community and society, become the first line of defense to avoid paying the price of an exponential community spread of the pandemic,” he said.

He said the generous contribution made by Mastercard has made it possible to scale up the investment to the national level to provide PPEs to medical staff attending and caring for Covid-19 patients.

“As we execute this initiative, my trust and gratitude goes to our medical staff who risk everything to serve on oath of their profession,” he said.

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