A Letter from Our CEO

Village Enterprise’s adaptions during COVID-19

Dear Village Enterprise friends and family,

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 – the very people we serve – are the most at risk.

Over the past two weeks, Village Enterprise took swift action to support our entrepreneurs and their families during this crisis. Our field staff made calls to over 3,000 business owners to understand their challenges and provide remote mentoring and vital health information.

Using cell phones, 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. While we are no longer able to conduct in-person group trainings, we put plans in place to do digital grant disbursements and ongoing mentoring. We are in conversation with technology solution providers to find new, innovative solutions that will allow us to provide additional information and tools.

While our business owners face many challenges because of the market closures and government restrictions, they are also innovating and adapting to the crisis. Retail and essential service businesses have moved from major markets back to villages. Some business owners are making new products to address urgent needs in their communities. Tailoring businesses are now making facemasks while some business owners are making soap.

The health and safety of our staff continues to be a top priority. In order to protect our staff and our business owners, we introduced the following measures:

  • Working remotely: We transitioned to working from home in all of our offices across East Africa and adjusted our operations so that we continue to serve our business owners remotely.
  • Sharing health and safety information: We continue to share important COVID-19 information with all our staff so they are aware how the virus is transmitted and how they can protect themselves, their families, and the people we serve. They in turn are sharing that information with our business owners.
  • Paying salaries and benefits: We reassured our staff that we are committed to retaining our staff and paying them their salary and benefits. We know that our field staff drives our impact and that their financial security is critical to our long-term success.

Our senior management team continues to hold daily meetings to discuss the impact of Covid-19 and how we must respond. We anticipate that the effective closure of the economies in both Uganda and Kenya will be extremely difficult for the communities in which we work for many months to come. With this in mind, we are working on an adaptive response plan for the longer-term effects of the crisis in our communities that we will share with you as soon as it is finalized.

We face unprecedented challenges, but we are nevertheless as committed as ever to our mission of ending extreme poverty in rural Africa through entrepreneurship and innovation.

In order to continue to serve the most vulnerable, Village Enterprise needs your support. We hope that you will consider making a donation to our COVID-19 Resilience Fund.

This fund will make an immediate impact in three ways. It will:

  1. Provide continuity to serve the very poor by retaining critical staff.
  2. Help us explore and test technologies for delivering training and support in lieu of meeting in person
  3. Help us provide targeted mentoring and additional support for business owners who must pivot to new types of businesses.

You can help us innovate and adapt our poverty graduation work to sustain the livelihoods of the vulnerable populations we serve.

Thank you for your continued support!

– Dianne Calvi, Village Enterprise CEO