As we highlight our work from 2019 in this report, the world is facing a global pandemic of unprecedented scale. The COVID-19 crisis is creating great uncertainty about what the future holds for the economy and well-being of all. But as I reflect on the stories that offer a snapshot into our work over the past year, I am amazed at how they point to the potential importance of finance in helping Kenyan households and businesses mitigate the impacts of this crisis.
Kenya is in a better position than many of our peers to leverage digital financial infrastructure to reduce physical interactions, keep trade going including through e-commerce, and unlock cash transfers for the most vulnerable. The progress made with the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection to deliver cash transfers provides a foundation for increased cash transfers in times of crisis. Leveraging digital platforms like DigiFarm to reach smallholder farmers with inputs, advice and finance can help keep agriculture going even in uncertain times. Despite the challenging times, the progress made in building livelihoods through the Marsabit pilot points to how cash transfers, paired with market linkages and skill building, can help households move into entrepreneurship.
However, there are other insights from our work that point to some of the challenges that will make this harder to navigate, such as the significant reduction in financial health reported by the FinAccess 19 results. We can only imagine how the financial health outcomes will further deteriorate in this crisis unless new solutions can be offered to improve the outcomes for Kenyans.
There is no doubt that Kenya will feel the impacts of this pandemic for many months and possibly years to come. However, at FSD Kenya, we will do our part to help the financial sector provide financial solutions to help Kenyan households and businesses manage day to day, deal with risk and even invest in the future in the recovery and rebuilding.
We hope that these stories about our work inspire you about the potential for inclusive finance. We also wish you good health as our country, and indeed the world at large, work hard to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and its implications.
CEO, FSD Kenya
FSD Kenya. (2020). Annual report 2019. Nairobi, Kenya: FSD Kenya.