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Mastercard Foundation to support a group of 11 SMEs to repurpose there production to personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturing via $ 3.2M fund and It’s partner Kifiya to provide an eCommerce platform for the SMEs sell online.

Mastercard Foundation will commit more than USD 3.2 million from the Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program according to news release published.

The six-month rescuing enterprises through production repurposing program will enable the 11 SMEs to continue running their businesses and avoid having to retrench their 1,060 employees, the majority being young women.

The contribution from the Mastercard Foundation will support the repurposing of factories and basic textile machines, as well as renting unused equipment to manufacture protective equipment for health care workers and masks for the general public.

The SMEs within the consortium are: Enzi Shoes, FIF Trading PLC, Gaber Textiles, Habte Garment, KABANA Leather, Kootekett Leather, Mafi, Meron Addis Abeba, Sadula Business PLC, The Look Interiors, and Yefikir.

“In Ethiopia, like in many developing economies, SMEs make a significant contribution to local employment and to the overall gross domestic product through their exports. An economic downturn due to COVID-19, to which SMEs are especially vulnerable, hits developing economies at their heart. With small reserves and limited working capital, many SMEs would struggle to survive a prolonged period of reduced economic activity, so the timing of this partnership is critical,” said Alemayehu Konde Koira, Country Head, Ethiopia, at the Mastercard Foundation.

The program will also include the on boarding of an eCommerce marketplace to enable the SMEs to sell their products online which negates the impact of social distancing while increasing their  and resilience in the long-term. Kifiya Financial Technologies, an existing Mastercard Foundation partner, will lead the management of the fund; and provide the online platform and business support at no cost to the SMEs.

“We are excited to be able to extend our partnership with the Mastercard Foundation to enable SMEs to access markets and credit, if needed, through leveraging our eCommerce, eDelivery, and digital payment technologies. It is evident from this program that the Foundation’s strategy is comprehensive in its approach to match immediate challenges with long-term opportunities. The SMEs are equally excited at the prospect of being able to repurpose while transitioning to improved digital capabilities,” said Munir Duri, CEO and Founder, at Kifiya Financial Technologies.

The partnership has created a platform for strong collaboration between the SMEs consortium and is providing an opportunity for the companies to remain agile during these unprecedented times and to emerge resilient.

“We would have eventually had to close our doors, were it not for this program. Like most SMEs in Ethiopia, COVID-19 has severely impacted our business as our revenues are mostly generated from exporting, which was shut down in March. We are empowered and excited to be participating in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Semhal Guesh, CEO of KABANA Leather and Chair of the consortium.

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Anteneh Tesfaye, Founder and CEO of Shega, is interested in innovation and startup ecosystems across emerging markets.

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