Equity Group has triggered a business continuity plan to protect its customers, staff and business. The Group’s board has evaluated the economic impact of the business lock down, curfew and breakdown of the global supply chains. The evaluation has shown that 97% of global aviation business is shut down, 87% of hotel business has been lost while 33 and 30 million workers have lost their jobs in the United States of America (USA) and Western Europe respectively. In addition, most factories in the manufacturing sector have shut down adversely affecting global supply chains. Closer home, the leadership of Equity Group has recognized that 1.2 million people are reported to have lost their jobs, 30% of tenants have challenges paying their rents for the month of April while the informal sector has stagnated. Power consumption and demand is reported to have fallen by 14% reflecting shut down of factories and manufacturing plants.
In view of the foregoing, the Group has adopted an offensive and defensive approach to protect its customers, staff and business. On the defensive, the Group is taking a personalized approach in restructuring customer loans to help them navigate through the Covid-19 pandemic that has evolved to a socio-economic crisis. The situation has affected large business ecosystems and industries such as travel, tourism, manufacturing, trade and commerce, construction, oil and gas as well agriculture and education.
Consequently, Equity Group will support its customers to survive, recover and thrive by the end of Covid-19 pandemic. Customers who can demonstrate the impact of Covid-19 on their businesses and the soundness of their model in the new normal will get reprieve of loan rescheduling and refinancing with up to an additional three years of repayment. “We believe that by supporting our existing customers, we shall help them keep their supply chains open and functional while maintaining their employees on their jobs,” said Dr. James Mwangi, Chief Executive Officer, Equity Group. Further, Dr. Mwangi clarified that the approach has also taken into consideration regulatory and reporting requirements.
The accommodation includes principal and (or) interest repayment breaks or reduction of repayment instalments. This gesture is intended to ensure that customers focus on cash preservation to ensure the survival of their businesses and enterprises. “ We know this crisis is not going away anytime soon since the health crisis has not been resolved and for this reason, we opted to be a patient and listening caring partner”, said Dr. Mwangi. “Our customers have been loyal and faithful and we owe them who we are today. Our focus has changed from financial performance and profitability to survival, sustainability and recoveries of our customers who are the reason we exist,” added Dr. Mwangi.
On the offensive approach, Equity Group will work with its customers to expand their opportunities in the health sector by financing them to manufacture health requirements such as face masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) locally while helping to create regional supply chains. The Group will support food and agriculture to enhance production, processing, distribution and export. It will also support innovation in information communication technology (ICT) and other initiatives to digitize the economy. All the offensive initiatives funding is anticipated to create new growth and employment opportunities.
To protect its customers, Equity Group has invested massively to support contactless environment and working from home. Its points of sale are now near field enabled (NFC) and are tap and go. Equity USSD Eazzy 247 channel has been revamped for ease of use while Equity Eazzy App has been revamped for better experience. Eazzy net, Eazzy Bizz and Eazzy Forex have been reviewed to ease the customers’ journeys to enable Equity banking experience to be “what you do” other than “where you go.”
“Equity Group will play to its capital strength, balance sheet agility and liquidity to support a long-term view and walk with our customers throughout the crisis. We want to give every client a chance to turn the crisis into an opportunity to thrive,” said Dr. Mwangi. He also appealed to customers to exercise caution in their decisions in order to preserve their business capital during this period of uncertainty, saying that businesses will have to take hard but critical decisions in order to sail through the crisis. By the same token, he challenged entrepreneurs to be innovative in looking for the opportunities that the crisis presents to re-imagine their business models and operating strategies especially adoption of digital technologies.
“We have been persuaded to think and act anew and hope that our initiative will provide stability, a steady hand and hope for customers for the road ahead and dial their fear down so that together we can save jobs, survive, preserve agility, flexibility and capacity to bounce back not only to survive and recover but to ultimately succeed”. Moreover, Dr. Mwangi said that in addition to working with its customers, the Group has forged alliances with Kenya Association of Manufactures (KAM), Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KNCCI) as well as the Micro and Small Enterprises Authority (MSEA). The alliance, with the support of MasterCard Foundation is aimed at synergizing and working together to mitigate the adverse effects of the current economic slowdown through capacity and resilience building to preserve and create five million jobs.