Coronavirus has spelt doom for many businesses across the world with thousands forced to cease operations so as to adhere to government directives pertaining preventive measures against the virus which has claimed over 34,000 lives and at least 730,000 people infected.
In Kenya, many businesses that have been a source of livelihood to citizens have been forced employees to go on unpaid leaves so as to cut on their costs of operations. In so doing companies have been left operating below average to avoid shutting down and others not able to offset demand for particular products in the market. Standard Chartered has today announced that it will commit USD1 billion of financing for companies that provide goods and services, and those planning the switch into making products that are in high demand to fight the global pandemic.
Companies listed as those directly involved in combating COVID-19, include manufacturers and distributors in the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare providers, as well as non-medical companies that have volunteered to add this capability to their manufacturing output – goods in scope include ventilators, face masks, protective equipment, sanitisers and other consumables.
“Clearly there’s a cost for companies to switch into these hugely in-demand items, so it’s an area where we can potentially help them get these processes up and running more quickly; and at the same time, we want to make sure that existing manufacturers and service providers get the support they need,” said Simon Cooper, CEO of Corporate, Commercial & Institutional Banking at Standard Chartered.
The money will be provided in form of financing to these companies in the form of loans, import/export finance or the working capital facilities that they use for day-to-day business operations and help existing manufacturers get their products to market, subject to these companies having received regulatory approvals to manufacture the goods.