When Covid-19 hit East Africa in March of 2020, Village Enterprise responded immediately to provide our entrepreneurs and their families with resources to build resilience during and after the pandemic.
Due to these extraordinary circumstances, the need to reach our entrepreneurs without traveling or holding physical meetings became vital. We pivoted by providing remote mentoring, resources, and support by using Short Messaging Service (SMS) communications to help entrepreneurs and business mentors identify solutions, adapt, and innovate during the onset of the crisis. To provide capital for new businesses, we successfully completed grant disbursements using mobile money in Kenya and Uganda. And to build upon our successes with digital technologies, we launched a design challenge to develop a complete digital version of our program. Our design challenge offers a human-centered approach to innovation that integrates the needs of our entrepreneurs, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for our organization’s success.
On The Front Lines during Covid-19 with Village Enterprise's TeamWatch Now
Ensuring that our staff is safe and healthy during the crisis continues to be our top priority. To do so, we introduced the following measures:
- After three and a half months of working remotely from home, our Kenyan and Ugandan staff that work directly with our entrepreneurs safely returned to fieldwork in July 2020. Our offices adhere to strict health and safety protocols like providing masks and sanitizers to all field staff.
- We continue to share important Covid-19 information with all staff members to best protect themselves, their families, and the people we serve.
- We are committed to retaining all of our dedicated staff members and compensating them for the impactful work they’re doing in underserved communities that need support now more than ever.
Impact data collected in the second quarter of 2020 indicated that our entrepreneurs demonstrated incredible adaptability amid the Covid-19 pandemic:
- No significant difference in business value at program exit before and after pandemic lockdown
- Higher business profit for post- vs. pre-pandemic businesses among those that experimentally received a $450 instead of a $150 seed capital transfer
- No differences in business membership attrition