Village Enterprise’s Covid-19 Response

Building resilience in the most vulnerable communities

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“Building resilience in the most vulnerable communities has never been more important. While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in the world, it does not affect us all equally. The poorest and most vulnerable are most at risk.”

Read a letter from our CEO

Actions We’re Taking

In order to protect our staff and our business owners, we introduced the following measures:

1. Supporting our entrepreneurs and their families during this crisis

  • Our field staff has made calls to over 5,000 entrepreneurs and savings group leaders to understand their challenges and provide remote mentoring and vital health information. Using cell phones, the Village Enterprise field staff will continue to mentor and provide information to our business owners to ensure their health, safety, and financial resilience during this crisis.

2. Innovating and adapting in time of crisis:  

  • Technological solutions: We implemented plans to provide digital grant disbursements and remote ongoing mentoring through SMS. We are in conversation with technology providers to find innovative solutions to transform our program to coincide with social distancing regulations
  • Business owners’ adaptations: Retail and essential service businesses have moved from major markets back to villages. Some business owners are making new products, such as masks and soap, to address urgent needs in their communities.

3. Ensuring our staff are safe and healthy during the crisis is a top priority. To do so, we introduced the following measures:

  • Office reopening: After 3.5 months of working remotely from home, field staff has returned to the field and our offices adhering to strict health and safety protocols.
  • Sharing health and safety information: We continue to share important Covid-19 information with all of our staff members so they can best protect themselves, their families, and the people we serve.
  • Continuing to pay salaries and benefits: We know that our field staff drives our impact and that their financial security is critical to our long-term success. We have reassured our staff members that we are committed to retaining them and paying them their salary and benefits.

Covid-19 Situation in Kenya and Uganda

As of October 9, there are 9,260 reported cases with 85 deaths of Covid-19 in Uganda. In Kenya, there are now 40,200 confirmed cases and 751 deaths. As the first few cases were detected, the Kenyan and Ugandan governments took rapid action in an effort to minimize the spread of the virus, including closing the borders and airports, banning gatherings, shutting down public transportation, enforcing curfews, closing markets for all non-essential businesses, and implementing social distancing.

Both Uganda and Kenya have now reopened their borders and welcomed international travelers. While the markets remain closed in Uganda for items other than food,  public transportation has resumed. In Kenya, most restrictions have now been released. You can learn more about the Covid-19 situation across Africa here.

While these efforts are beneficial for the population’s health and safety, they put the poorest and most vulnerable at financial risk. Most of our business owners have lost their ability to earn income as the markets and transportation shut down, and without that income, they can no longer buy food for their families.

Village Enterprise isn’t giving up, and neither are our business owners.

Village Enterprise COVID-19 Tales: Dressmakers become Mask Makers

Read the full story.

Most Recent Update


Late April, Village Enterprise’s Monitoring and Evaluations team conducted phone interviews with over 1,100 small business owners in order to learn the most significant issues they are facing right now. Thanks to the M&E team and to the tireless work of our business mentors, who contacted over 5,000 business owners and 500 business savings groups by phone between the end of March and early May, we now have a greater understanding of the effects of COVID-19 on our business owners and their businesses.

The results show that the countrywide shutdowns of transportation and markets in Kenya and Uganda have severely effected our business owners, with many of them unable to sell their goods without a market. 71% of business owners in Uganda and 84% of business owners in Kenya report that their revenues have decreased either significantly or somewhat.

Despite these difficulties, Village Enterprise’s business owners remain optimistic! 75% of business owners in Uganda and 82% of business owners in Kenya are confident that their businesses will recover once the pandemic passes.

Village Enterprise isn’t giving up, and neither are our business owners.