Invest In Africa Offers Free COVID-19 Support To SMEs

Invest in Africa (IIA) extends emergency COVID-19 SME survival programme across Sub-Saharan Africa, providing vital business support for thousands of struggling African businesses at no cost.  

An SME needs all the help it can get.

Invest in Africa (IIA), a private sector-led initiative focused on growing local businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa has decided to make its membership-based services offering COVID-19 support free to any small or medium-sized business (SME) in Africa. The new ‘COVID-19 SME Survival Toolkit’ includes webinars, practical guides, solutions and recommendations to help African SMEs get through the many challenges the pandemic represents. All content can be accessed online, for free, and has been created specifically for African SMEs.

Established in 2012, IIA operates locally in five countries across the continent (Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, Zambia, Mauritania), acting as a catalyst for SME growth and competitiveness by providing training, improving access to finance and mitigating supply chain risks. This latest COVID-19 survival programme, focused on supporting SMEs through the current period of economic uncertainty, is available to all SMEs across Africa via the Invest in Africa website.

“Because the vast majority of businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa are SMEs, they also provide nearly all employment opportunities, so ensuring their survival is critical to long term economic growth prospects.”

“Because the vast majority of businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa are SMEs, they also provide nearly all employment opportunities, so ensuring their survival is critical to long term economic growth prospects,” commented William Pollen, IIA’s CEO. “What we’re aiming to achieve through this programme is not only to enhance SMEs’ chances of surviving this crisis, but also to help them emerge stronger and more resilient. We are an SME ourselves and as an organisation dedicated to supporting small, local African businesses the decision to roll out a specific COVID-19 response initiative, for free, was made immediately.”

He added, “Whilst survival is the new theme of 2020, SMEs are in danger of being forgotten about. IIA wants to ensure they don’t get left behind by arming them with practical support, built over years of experience, that can be implemented now, focusing on business-critical issues like cash flow, cost reduction, procurement and HR.”

Invest in Africa works with an extensive network of partner organisations, including the UK Department for International Trade in Africa to effectively support and accelerate SME business growth. The latest initiative launched by IIA as part of the COVID-19 programme is a series of virtual training sessions in partnership with these organisations, offering courses such as ‘The 100-Day COVID-19 Business Recovery Plan’ in partnership with EY and ‘Formulating Solutions to Support Female-led SMEs’ in partnership with IFC.

Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa at the UK Department for International Trade, Emma Wade-Smith OBE, said, “Having restated the UK’s commitment to being Africa’s investment partner of choice at the UK-Africa Investment Summit in January, we want to reiterate our support to our African partners during this unprecedented economic challenge. SMEs are critical to the resilience of local economies, so we fully support the efforts of Invest in Africa to assist them and the initiative to offer free access to this useful toolkit, especially as trade and investment will be so essential to mitigating the economic impact of COVID-19.”

Dr James Mwangi, Equity Group MD and Chief Executive said “In Africa where economies are predominantly SME led, the social-economic impact of COVID-19 will be multi-dimensional, impacting both the national economy and the individual SME businesses, many of which are cash flow based. At Equity, we recognise the negative impact this will have on the survival and growth of the SME sector and by extension on every household. As an SME led bank, we are working closely with our SMEs to support them and this initiative by Invest in Africa.” With unprecedented financial stimulus packages being put forward by governments and central banks to support SMEs, another key part of IIA’s COVID-19 programme is highlighting to SMEs what support is already available and how to access this funding.


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