by Harleen Jabbal
Twitter – @harleenjabs
Instagram – @leenarete
The quiet runaways, standstill trolley lines and empty duty free shops became the new normal when the world travel stopped because of Covid-19. As if that was not shocking enough, it became impossible to leave the home and travel in your personal car from one county to another due to Government imposed restrictions.
While, some would argue that Covid-19 was manufactured accidentally in Wuhan, the reality is the world is paying the price and will do for another possibly two years. There are just not enough factories to make the vaccinations and while the patent debate continues, we have to manage with the medical facilities on the ground.
Subsequently, this called for a lot of creativity and adapting to a new normal. Precious Mueni Mue, Business Development Officer of APA Life Assurance brings out that the pandemic
“changed their way of working, now from home and use digital media/online marketing including cold calls and emails to keep communicating efficiently with their existing and new clients”.
With increased hospitalizations, there was need to focus more on timely communication and spread the awareness of their existence and assistance.
Being so close to end of life, also saw an uptake of the group life and pension policies. She goes on to say that
“people have seen that it is important to save for a rainy day and the death cover to shelter their dependents in their absence incase of death”.
It may be difficult to imagine but Kenya unlike other nations did take the call for the lockdown and social distancing very seriously. Sometimes it can take a shock to push start necessary changes and Precious adds, that
“the health sector has actually improved in regards to their response and services. I think because Covid-19 did not have a preference on who to affect, so all people are treated the same regardless of who you are to the society”.
The use of technology as platform to transmit information by all those in the health sector grew significantly, for example the Ministry of Health Kenya has been regularly publishing their press releases and relevant data on their social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
The rise of delivery services especially through the mobile apps such as Uber Eats, Glovo, Jumia Food and recently Bolt. Almost a year after the pandemic was announced Bolt Kenya announced its food delivery service in March 2021.
“Food delivery has been a popular request for quite some time and we are glad to bring this service to the millions of people who are using our platform. The infrastructure and experience we have built up with our ride-hailing business give us a good platform to expand and diversify our services. We have a rich history in disrupting markets and will be applying our experience to our food delivery platform and offer affordable delivery fees, better working conditions for our couriers and you can find our favourite brands selection. We are launching with amazing restaurant promotions and free delivery”, said Bolt Food Country Manager: Edgar Kipngetich Kitur.
Meanwhile, Glovo one of the world’s leading multi-category delivery players, in April 2021, announced that it has raised (€450M) in its Series F funding round led by New York-based investment managers Lugard Road Capital and the Luxor Capital Group. As of 1st April 2021, Glovo Kenya has reduced its minimum delivery prices for food by 50% to KES 50 and groceries by 18% to KES 165 this shift in delivery prices is aimed at having the app accessible to as many customers as possible,” said Ms. Priscilla Muhiu, the company’s General Manager.
The competition has become so stiff that restaurants are constantly putting out different offer combinations to keep their customers interested and the ovens baking. The refreshing 2021, also brought in the faith to just relax and start enjoying the normal festivals like Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day.
If the insurance industry and the delivery app services remained resilient, so did the banking, especially with Equity Bank. The Equity Group has returned strong quarter one results in a challenging environment amidst the multi-faceted Covid-19 crisis of health, economic disruption, and humanitarian challenges, giving hope of resilience and recovery.
“Our strategy; purpose-first, inclusivity, affordability, reach, agility and quality have proven resilient and sustainable”
said Dr. James Mwangi, the Equity Group CEO while releasing the first quarter of 2021 financial results. “Purpose has proved profitable” he added.
During the multi-crisis year, Equity focused on social impact investment in health investing Kshs.1.7 billion in social response to society, forgoing Kshs.1.5 billion in waived mobile transaction fees, waiving Kshs.1.2 billion in loan rescheduling fees and accommodating Kshs.171 billon (or 31%) of the loan book for up to 3 years of principal and interest repayment breaks to enable businesses to survive.
“We kept the lights of the economies we operate in on, supported businesses to repurpose, retool and recover by supporting livelihoods of our customers during the crisis”,
said Dr. Mwangi.
National Bank of Kenya (NBK) has posted KShs. 184million in profit after tax for the first quarter of the year ending March 31 2021. This represents a 19% growth compared to a similar period last year, driven by increased income from loan interest and foreign exchange trading, coupled with lower loan loss provisions.
“We remain optimistic about prospects for this year in our efforts to turnaround the bank and deliver value for our customers. As economic activity picks up, the bank’s enhanced capital position puts us in good stead to help our customers walk the path to recovery after the slowdown due to the pandemic,”
NBK’s Managing Director Paul Russo added.
The way forward remains to complete the vaccination drive and on 20th May, 2021, the Cabinet Secretary for Ministry of Health, Mutahi Kagwe is appealing for calm from people who had received their first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine with an assurance they will get the second dose.
The CS also noted that with the situation in India, the government is also holding discussions with other manufacturers of vaccines like the Johnson and Johnson among others. He pointed out that the AstraZeneca Vaccine is unlikely to remain the vaccine of choice in Africa because of the delays in shipments currently being experienced from India.
Kenya is still the green, hopeful and beautiful nation that is going to remain resilient and creative in whatever challenge it faces.