The Mastercard Foundation has announced a partnership with a consortium of 11 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Ethiopia. The purpose of the partnership is to repurpose their factories to manufacture personal protective equipment in the fight against Covid-19.
Mastercard Foundation will commit more than USD 3.2 million from the Foundation’s Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience Program. The program was specifically created to assist institutions and communities in Africa to withstand and respond to the short-term impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. It also aims to strengthen their resilience in the long run.
The six-month Rescuing Enterprises Through Production Repurposing Program will enable the 11 SMEs to continue running their businesses. These SMEs will also 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. It will also cover 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.
According to Alemayehu Konde Koira, Mastercard Foundation Country Head in Ethiopia, “SMEs make a significant contribution to local employment. They also add 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”.
More Details on the Mastercard Foundation Partnership
The program will also include the onboarding of an eCommerce marketplace to enable the SMEs to sell their products online. This would help negate 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. Kifiya will also provide the online platform and business support at no cost to the SMEs.
The partnership has created a platform for strong collaboration between the SMEs consortiums. It is also providing an opportunity for these companies to remain agile during these unprecedented times and emerge resilient.
The Mastercard Foundation is also responding to Covid-19 on a continental level. On June 4, 2020, the Foundation announced its partnership with Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). Through its Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience Program, the Mastercard Foundation is committing US$40 million to the Africa CDC’s Partnership to Accelerate Covid-19 Testing (PACT).
These funds will be used to purchase 1 million test kits. It will also be used to train and deploy 10,000 community healthcare workers and 80 surveillance rapid responders to support contact tracing as well as strengthen the Africa CDC’s capacity to oversee a continental response to the pandemic.