Data collected by the Kenya National Bureau of statistics revealed that 4.64 million people were unemployed by the end of June 2020, a rise from 2.94 million at the end of March 2020 — the month when Kenya reported its first case of COVID-19. Amid this grim time, the one silver lining was the way in which humanity banded together to lend a helping hand to its most vulnerable. Familial bonds were strengthened, and communities were bonded in a manner that has not been witnessed before. Even businesses carried out their corporate social responsibility (CSR) by assisting those within and outside their task forces in any way that they could.
In April 2020, a Kenyan organization called Paukwa Stories shared a series of stories about the initiatives started to assist the people affected by the pandemic. The stories were shared under the banner of #KeNation, and featured individuals as well as organizations that were providing food for the needy, setting up hand washing stations, and even making masks to meet the shortage. The goal of the #KeNation series was to highlight the different ways in which Kenyans were showing up for other Kenyans. Another common thread that ran in these stories was the Harambe spirit that saw businesses raise funds to assist those in need.
On fundraising platform M-Changa, a COVID 19 Community was set up consisting of 79 organizations, businesses and cooperates raising funds to cushion Kenyans from different parts of Kenya from the harsh effects of covid. While money was raised on the platform, the different institutions supported individuals in different ways which included distributing food packages, providing protective gear, providing counselling services to affected youth and setting up libraries and outdoor reading stations to the many children who were home for months on end.
As we now transition into the ‘post COVID’ period that is characterized by economic recovery, how can businesses and organizations support the most vulnerable? With a 7% increase in education fundraisers registered on M-Changa, one way businesses can help students is by offering full or partial scholarships to bright but needy students whose academic participation has been affected by the COVID economic disruptions. With increased morbidity and mortality due to mental health challenges caused by COVID, businesses and institutions in the healthcare space can offer subsidized or free treatment sessions or provide free hotline numbers for virtual counselling.
While 2020 was a booming year for businesses providing essential goods and services, a good way to support the vulnerable now is by doubling CSR budgets to facilitate distribution of these goods and services to those still experiencing the financial blows of COVID-19. Where applicable, businesses that have experienced growth could invest in training and recruiting skilled youths experiencing vulnerabilities.
While we have come a long way since March 2020 and some semblance of normalcy has been restored even as we continue to navigate life during a pandemic, we have to remember that getting through this pandemic is an ongoing marathon and businesses should continue to put people over profits as we continue the race.
M-Changa is an African online and mobile fundraising platform that was launched to make fundraising more convenient, more efficient and more secure than the traditional Harambee. To date, over 50,00 fundraisers have raised millions of dollars from over 1M+ contributors.
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