The KEPSA Gender and Youth sector board, led by Chairperson Ms. Eva Muraya, held its final sector board meeting of the year on 9th December 2020. The virtual meeting aimed to discuss the progress of the sector board and reflect on key achievements for the year 2020.
Ms. Muraya noted that 2020 was a disrupted year due to the global crisis, Covid-19, reflecting on the impact to businesses where some were forced to closed down and others transitioned to other ventures. She further applauded the sector board members for their resilience and seamless transition to the new normal.
On the sector board progress, members were updated on the finalized MOU between Kenya Institute of Management, New Faces New Voices, KEPSA, and Nairobi Securities Exchange towards undertaking a joint study on board diversity. The data collection is set to commence in January 2021 with the launch of the report scheduled for March 2021.
The Capacity Building sub-sector lead, Ms. Jackie Malomba, updated members of the ongoing series of Mentorship and training sessions that begun on 10th November 2020. The training sessions are aimed at building capacity of women and youth business owners on catalyzing the growth of their businesses during and post the pandemic. Ms. Malomba further urged members to continue participating in the training sessions.
The preliminary findings of the study on the socio-economic impact of Covid-19 on women-led businesses were presented by the consultant, Ms. Jane Maigua. Ms. Maigua noted that the pandemic was an unprecedented global crisis that brought about disruption, adversely affecting the global, regional, and local economic activities. The purpose of the study was to; assess the socio-economic impact of Covid-19 on women and youth-led businesses; document economic recovery stimulus measures and packages addressing these effects; identify existing priority needs of women and youth entrepreneurs and gaps in existing mitigations, and recommendation to build a gender and youth inclusive economic response and recovery.
The findings of the study highlighted that most women-led businesses were in the Agriculture, Forestry, and fisheries sectors followed by wholesale and retail trade and then the tourism sector. Most of the businesses affirmed having been operating below capacity. The findings indicated that the businesses reported challenges such as reduced customer numbers, reduced cash flows, lost revenue, reduced capital to operate their businesses, among others.
To address some of these challenges, the government waivered all bank fees, announced stimulus packages to caution entrepreneurs, tax relief for low-income earners, and reduced PAYE, among others when the pandemic hit Kenya. Business associations have further trained their members on various survival and resilience mechanisms and offering mental and socio-psycho support. On individual capacity, entrepreneurs have downsized their workers, salary cuts, moving and expanding their online presence, moving to new ventures, among others.
In conclusion, Ms. Muraya noted that the study was timely, as it would go a long way to inform policies and programs moving forward. She expressed her gratitude to all the sector board members and the KEPSA team for their resilience in ensuring the sector board run cohesively throughout the whole year.