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COVID-19 response in Microfinance sector

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus. The disease was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, the capital of China's Hubei province, and has since spread globally, resulting in the ongoing 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic. Somalia confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Mogadishu on 16 March. As of 22 April, there are 286 confirmed cases in Somalia with fourteen confirmed death cases.

18 March Somalia Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire announced Schools to be closed, social events and gatherings prohibited, and flights and travel restricted. Somalia emerging economies have imposed very strict lock-down measures to prevent uncontrollable spreading of the virus and turning the COVID-19 crisis into a humanitarian crisis.

These lock downs have a profound impact on the lives of hundreds of Somalia of vulnerable people. Many of them live on a low-income and rely on daily earnings to survive. They see their income sharply decrease or even disappear without financial buffers or other safety measures to fall back on.

KIMS Microfinance is “Somalia’s first and only privately owned, commercially oriented social enterprise, offering responsible and ethical financing for economically active Somalis and small Somali businesses, recognized the devastation that the virus and economic lockdown wreak on small businesses.

COVID-19 crisis hits the most vulnerable people the hardest in their health and economic situation. Uncertain times have additional side effects such as volatility in local currency rates and rising prices for basic needs like food.

Impact of Covid-19

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is global, due to Somalia relying on import for basic goods and food, the implication of international market closure will have a significant implication in Somali’s ability to meet their basic needs. As such KIMS anticipates that this chain of reactions from market closure (international borders) to have implications on the capacity of our customers to repay loans and thus may result a significant reduction in our revenues.

Due to high rate of illiteracy among our clients, face to face communication with our clients was the main means of communication. Currently KIMS client rely on credit officers for guidance and questions. Written formal forms of communication are often not the most effective means. COVID-19 will have a big impact the communication method that the organization used to employ thus might impact the cash collection of the organization.

Many of the daily wage workers, micro and small entrepreneurs in Somalia may hardly be able to repay their loans, as their incomes have dropped instantly.

Response

With KIMS extensive knowledge and networks, KIMS contribute to sustaining the business environment in emerging markets as a way of reducing the impact of Covid-19.

KIMS is determined and committed to support and enhance small businesses during Covid-19 pandemic.

As the impact of the coronavirus grows daily, KIMS Microfinance is fully committed to doing the utmost to minimize any disruption and continue to deliver on commitments to its clients.

KIMS focus on staying in touch with their clients and on understanding their needs, contacting all their clients and prospects to inform them about the measures in place to support them, providing them with information on the latest developments at national level through social networks.

Branch Managers are updated on the latest government measures so as to be able to share them with clients and partners.

KIMS Microfinance staff have observed COVID-19 preventive measures by observing social distance ensuring safe distance between people, inside and outside, staff are provided with personal protective equipment (PPE)

KIMS limit the maximum number of clients in each branch to ensure social distance.

KIMS credit officers have daily calls with their clients, with priority to the most impacted sectors

KIMS manage virtual communication channels both internally and with their clients.

KIMS faces a dual challenge in the COVID-19 pandemic; diminishing loan payments, savings deposits, and income (less cash coming in) while continuing to support clients with loan disbursements, savings withdrawals, and paying employees and suppliers (more cash going out).

KIMS Chief of operation Abdifatah Muthane mentioned “There might be loan repayment problems and higher PAR due to the loss of businesses by the customers as well as income losses such as salaries, wages”

KIMS Microfinance has establishing Crisis Management Committee that manages the situation and focuses on the business continuity of KIMS Microfinance, particularly the collection

“The pandemic comes with economic burden as households will groan under the burden of supporting loved ones that the Covid-19 affected. For some, the pandemic will be an excuse to not honor their financial obligations. Loan portfolios will suffer, Loan Officers will be unable to track payments adequately as they will have to work from home or with minimal mobility; nevertheless, during these unprecedented times, we make sure that we support our partners, clients and communities”. Says KIMS CEO Mohamed Abdulrahman.

“I don’t feel productive during this period, working from home is not a conducive environment for Microfinance, since our work is mostly based on day to day fact to face contact with clients but I am trying to do everything in my capacity to remain as productive, needless to say that COVID-19 we have lost in touch with our normalcy”. Says Roble Mohamed Mogadishu Branch Manager

“Covid-19 pandemic has significantly reshaped our lives, work and over social engagement, social distancing, physical isolation, and quarantine can contribute to feelings of loneliness”. Says Sahra Mohamed Idris credit officer.

About KIMS Microfinance

Since launching in March 2014, KIMS has provided over $17.2 million of financial services to over 16,479 clients, and generated an estimated 9,000 jobs. The microfinance institution is headquartered in Hargeisa, Somaliland, and it operates 14 branches in 10 different locations throughout Somaliland, Puntland, and the South-Central regions of Somalia.

KIMS success over the past several years highlights how responsible financial assistance can be used to create positive change, even in a country like Somalia, that suffers from the negative impacts of conflict and climate change.

KIMS has been named the 2017 recipient of the Ethical Finance Innovation Challenge and Awards (EFICA), a prestigious annual prize co-organised by Thomson Reuters and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB). The award, recognizes the ‘most dynamic actionable solutions that advance ethics in the world’s financial services.’

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