Many micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Kenya saw their incomes disappear overnight because of COVID-19. With limited emergency reserves, about 75 percent of them were at risk of collapse, according to a Central Bank of Kenya survey conducted in April 2020.

To help MSMEs in Kenya and elsewhere adapt to the challenges of the COVID-19 operating environment, IFC created six one-hour interactive webinars on topics like how to access finance during the crisis, manage costs, and improve online marketing techniques. The webinars were delivered through four banks — Co-operative Bank of Kenya, Gulf African Bank, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), and Stanbic Bank — and reached 1,550 MSMEs from April to June 2020.

Three additional banks in Ghana and Nigeria helped to scale the program across Sub-Saharan Africa and reach an additional 2,300 participants. The webinars were developed as part of Grow Learn Connect, an IFC program that builds human capital in emerging markets and fragile and conflict-affected situations by creating a network of qualified local advisory service providers for MSMEs.

“The COVID-19 SME training webinars enabled us to offer tools and knowledge to our existing MSME customers at a time when our support is most critical,” said Annastacia Kimtai, Director of Retail Banking for KCB Bank Group.

The webinars are one component of IFC’s two-year partnership with KCB Bank, which began with the Women Value Proposition to support women entrepreneurs. Through this program, 370 KCB Bank relationship managers have been trained on the business case for serving women in Kenya and on creating a cutting-edge experience that will make KCB the bank of choice for women-owned businesses in Kenya.

Almost 240 women entrepreneurs have now been coached on how to differentiate their businesses from competition, expand their customer base, and increase sales. In total, the program has reached 848 SMEs across Kenya, 58 percent of which are women-owned.

For Annastacia Kimtai, partnering with IFC has created benefits that will outlast the shock of COVID-19. “MSMEs and female entrepreneurs make vital contributions to Kenya,” she said. “The more we can support them with inclusive banking products and services, the more resilient our economy will be.”