As a responsible African company, we continue to closely monitor the impact of COVID-19 in Kenya and other presence countries. We support the Government of Kenya on its early intervention via the recently announced interventions and believe that it will go a long way towards ensuring the disease is well contained in the country.
At Asante Financial Services, we are people-first, and we do what we do with the belief that technology can change lives and the hope that it can be a valuable tool at moments like this.
Serving our customers
We believe our role of serving customers and the community during this time is a critical one, and we want to make sure that our customers can get the services they need, through the invocation of a Business Continuity Program, when they need them. As COVID-19 has spread to the country, we expect an early spike in sales by our merchants as people will seek to stock up (especially in household staples categories) at their respective household income levels. Unlike wealthier economies in the West where average income levels are significantly higher than Kenya, we expect restocking by households in Kenya to be more frequent hence our Merchants will require funding to sustain the orders from the general public.
Kenya being a leader in digital payments and mPesa being the dominant means of electronic payments, we expect a further disruption of cash as more people will avoid “cash notes” because of the likelihood of being a medium for contracting the virus; this has been further emphasised in the press release by the government. Thus, activity levels at our Merchant points are expected to increase.
As our customers are predominantly (in excess of 70%) involved in General Trade/Retail, we expect to see as a minimum, a sustained level of activities, as a result of the points highlighted above.
Empowering our customers
Even as we make arrangements for “remote working” in the unlikely event that the virus spread becomes severe, we will make sure they have access to our Call Center which will remain active to keep their businesses and organizations moving forward safely and efficiently.
We will continue to collaborate with Safaricom, MFS, TransUnion, CreditInfo and all our partners to support the efforts of our customers resulting from the ripple effect of COVID-19. This includes providing customers in the most affected counties with technical support, while enabling some to quickly scale to support spikes in business activities due to stock ups, increasing our engagement levels between when a loan is disbursed and when it is finally repaid.
We are supporting our staff who may have to work from home with our work tools, laptops, including virtual desktops in the cloud, frustration-free online meetings with video, and secure content storage and collaboration.
Supporting our community
We believe that the early comprehensive steps taken by the government will ensure a reduced spread and impact of COVID-19 in Kenya. While we will keep experimenting with new ways to stay productive and support our customers, we will want to play a role in helping individuals and communities minimise the impact and emerge stronger at the end of the day. We will mobilise some company and employee (voluntary) resources to be able to donate Hand Sanitisers, Soaps and Facial Masks to the most vulnerable communities. We will also support local efforts in driving awareness on the importance of “Hand Washing” and “Social Distancing”.
There is no mistaking the challenge of this moment. The entire Asante Financial Services Group family is indebted to the heroic first responders, immigration officials, doctors, nurses, researchers, public health experts and public servants in Kenya who are giving their ALL to ensure Kenya meets this moment. We may not yet know with certainty when the greatest risk will be behind us, but we know that based on our willpower and the grace of God, it will be soon.
Chief Risk Officer