Equity’s trailblazing efforts in uplifting East Africa’s women, youth

Across East Africa, the challenge of economic marginalization, particularly affecting women and the youth, persists as a huge barrier to the region’s sustainable development.

However, innovative initiatives spearheaded by financial institutions such as Equity Group are making notable strides in reversing these trends through targeted training and financial empowerment.

Over the years, Equity Group has been distinguishing itself not just as a financial institution but as a vital player in uplifting the community through its Enterprise Development and Financial Inclusion programs.

By December 2023, a total of 2.4 million people, especially women and youth, have benefited from the Equity Group Foundation’s financial education programs.

This training is crucial as it equips them with the necessary skills to navigate the complexities of financial management, enhancing their employability, and increasing their entrepreneurial capabilities.

Additionally, the foundation has trained over 500,000 micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in entrepreneurship. This training is more than just business education; it’s a lifeline that enables small business owners to transform their enterprises from subsistence-level operations into sustainable, growth-oriented ventures.

With over Kes275.3 billion disbursed to these trained groups, Equity Group is not only educating but also financially backing these promising entrepreneurs to kick-start and expand their businesses.

Read also: Equity Group and AfCFTA seal deal to deepen Africa’s economic integration

Skilled workforce development

In liaison with the Mastercard Foundation, Equity Group’s involvement in Young Africa Works program is a pointer to the power of strategic partnerships in addressing unemployment and underemployment among the youth.

Young Africa Works program focuses on nurturing a skilled workforce that is well-prepared to seize new opportunities in the evolving job market. By doing so, it has been instrumental in creating over 1.3 million jobs, highlighting its growing impact in combating access to education complete with the chance to open direct job opportunities.

Agriculture remains the backbone of many African economies, and supporting this sector is vital for the overall economic growth and food security of the East African region.

Equity Group Foundation’s food and agriculture pillar has made a notable headway in empowering small-scale farmers. By reaching out to over 3.8 million farmers and supporting over 292,362 MSMEs in the agricultural sector, the foundation has laid a strong base for scalable farming ventures.

These efforts are bolstered by the lender’s support packages including technology training, access to markets, and crucially, access to finance. Such support structures are critical for transforming traditional farming into agri-business, which is capable of supporting larger populations and generating substantial economic returns.

Digitization driving efficiency

Digitization has become a pillar of modern business strategy, and Equity Group is at the forefront of this transformation in the region’s banking sector. This shift towards digital operations has allowed the Group to transcend traditional barriers of time and geography, offering services that are as timely as they are widespread.

This digital approach not only enhances the efficiency of transactions but also ensures that financial services are more accessible to the marginalized groups at any time and from any location.

In the fiscal year ending December 2023, Equity Group’s digital loan repayment rates hit 98 percent for MSMEs and 95 percent for retail, further amplifying the effectiveness and reliability of digital banking services offered by the lender. Such high repayment rates also reflect the economic stability and trust that the Foundation has fostered among its clients, a signal to the success of its training and financial support package.

A model for scalable development

The efforts of Equity Group in enhancing financial literacy, supporting entrepreneurial growth, and promoting food security illustrate a comprehensive approach to tackling economic marginalization. This model not only serves as a beacon of hope for women and youth in Africa but also as a viable template for other regions and organizations aiming to make a similar impact.

Through its targeted programs and strategic partnerships, Equity Group has not only transformed the lives of millions but also contributed to the economic resilience and growth of the East African region.

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