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Mastercard bolsters partnership with Unilever and KCB Bank to support Kenyan SMEs

By Pavithra R

January 21, 2021

  • Kenya
  • Mastercard

Mastercard has announced strengthening its partnership with Unilever and KCB Bank, built to support micro-merchants in Kenya, by expanding their Jaza Duka program to provide an extensive COVID-19 relief package to retailers.

Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are the backbone of the Kenyan economy, and yet are amongst the hardest hit by the pandemic. A survey conducted by the Central Bank of Kenya reveals that almost 75% of Kenya’s SMBs faced collapse without urgent intervention by key stakeholders.

As countries forge towards economic recovery, enabling SMBs to recover quickly has been earmarked as a key driver for economic restoration and growth. Ensuring MSMEs continue to access capital is a critical component for recovery, and this has been recognized by the Jaza Duka partners.

‘Jaza Duka’, Swahili for ‘fill up your store’, is part of Mastercard’s Track Micro Credit Program and is a global, inclusive credit ecosystem for small retailers to help them overcome cash constraints and enables them to access short-term credit.

Jaza Duka partners, to extend their support towards COVID-19 economic recovery, have pooled resources to provide retailers in the program with a business recovery package worth over $150,000. The package will be divided and delivered in the form of direct financial assistance; free health products to meet the rising demand; and customized business education and training to help retailers navigate the current business environment and build the foundation for mid-to-long-term resilience.

“At Mastercard, we have seen the Jaza Duka initiative transform the lives and businesses of thousands of micro-merchants in Kenya over the last two years. By continuing to enable access to much-needed capital throughout the pandemic and by overlaying that with additional financial and non-financial assistance for retailers in the program, we strongly believe that we can help merchants start to rebuild and position themselves for a more resilient future,” said Natasha Jamal, MEA Regional Director at the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.

The program combines data distribution from Unilever and analysis by Mastercard to provide micro-credit eligibility recommendations to KCB Bank. The bank will use this information to assess a retailer’s creditworthiness and extend formal credit for stock purchases, which is interest-free for up to 17 days.

“Unilever’s purpose is to make sustainable living commonplace, where we use our scale to do good in the societies we live in and therefore create an equitable and socially inclusive world. With Jaza Duka, we are able to live true to that purpose. Together with our partners, we are giving back to our customers by enabling them to access what they need to grow their businesses, generate more value and be able to uplift their lives,” said Luck Ochieng, Unilever Kenya General Manager.

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. It’s Cyber & Intelligence team has been working with SMBs, and the Trust Center is the culmination of such work and partnerships. The firm is committed to building a more inclusive digital economy that works for everyone. The firm has plans to expand the Track Micro Credit Program to other markets across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East in the coming months.

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