The past three years have been especially rough between the COVID-19 lockdowns, supply shocks from the Russian-Ukrainian war, and rising living costs. A year-long study of Kenyan small businesses found that two-thirds of small firms’ employees went without food at some point during the year.
It’s no wonder President William Ruto aptly named his $410 million loan scheme for low-income Kenyans and small businesses ‘the Hustler Fund’. The former chicken seller-turned President likely gets the plight of Kenya’s tenacious micro-entrepreneurs more than most.
Kenya’s micro and small enterprises (MSEs) contribute 24% to the gross domestic product and 93% of the labour force. With their economic might, MSEs aren’t a group to be trifled with, but formal financial institutions underserve them.