The COVID-19 pandemic has threatened small farms and businesses all over the world. This is especially true in East Africa where numerous businesses serve as the primary source of income and livelihood for most families. These businesses are also facing an increased need to supply governments and international NGOs with essential food to help feed the growing population of people who are experiencing joblessness or who are refugees. Women-owned businesses in the region have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, but unlike their male counterparts, they have less access to financing, which only compounds their challenges.
Solution and Impact
DFC is providing financing to the SEAF COVID-19 Global Gender Lens Emergency Loan Finance LLC, which is managed by the global private equity impact firm SEAF (Small Enterprise Assistance Funds). The facility is supporting Financial Access Commerce and Trade Services (FACTS), a company that specializes in providing short-term working capital to small and medium-sized businesses, agribusinesses, and emerging entrepreneurs in Kenya and Uganda.
With all of DFC’s financing being used to support businesses that are primarily owned or led by women or that supply goods and services which are beneficial to women, the project advances DFC’s 2X Women’s Initiative, which supports the economic empowerment of women across the developing world. SEAF is a gender-lens investor and women comprise approximately 50 percent of FACTS’s direct and indirect beneficiaries, permanent employees, casual laborers, customers, and suppliers/outgrowers. DFC's financing will help the women-owned businesses it supports weather the economic disruptions of the pandemic.
To date, SEAF has invested more than $560 million through 430 impact investments globally and has been actively working with entrepreneurs across 16 countries who are in need of financial support to address adverse COVID-19 consequences.