COVID-19 has impacted Micro- Small and Medium Enterprises that are already vulnerable to internal shocks due to lack of access to finance, markets and digitization which is the latest addition to a long list of gender inequalities that continue to disproportionately affect them.
Since March, almost all African countries were on lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19, restrictions of movements have led to a shortage of farm laborers, halted cross border trade, affected long and short distance supply chains resulting in skyrocketing transport and food costs, putting pressure on Micro and Small Enterprises and their livelihoods and those of their families are at risk.
Although some countries have provided stimulus packages to vulnerable families, millions were left exposed and could be the next vulnerable groups. The most affected are women, because of the pandemic, the gains made in women’s economic empowerment are at risk.
In order to understand how COVID-19 is affecting our members’ Agribusinesses and how AWAN Afrika can support our members and their businesses to build resilience against internal and external shocks associated with the pandemic, a survey was conducted through a questionnaire that was sent to all our 1,600 champion business owners in 42 African countries. Of the 200 respondents of those surveyed 35% are from , ECOWAS, 24% from , SADC and 20% from , East Africa Community regions.
38% are smallholder farmers who rely on farm inputs that are season/time sensitive, extension services from agronomists who usually travel over long distances to provide service. 35% of the respondents are agro-processors who rely on supplies from farmers, import raw materials, including packaging materials.
The survey highlighted that those in processing and bulking support a large number of smallholder farmers, create jobs in the processing pack houses and in transport supply chain and buyers and sellers.
For example, a processor from Mali and Eswatini who work with 400 and 60 smallholder farmers respectively had to close their operations.
This has a trickle down effect impacting on families of those dependent on the jobs and supply chains. We could go on with examples
More on the survey results will be published on our report.
AWAN Afrika makes an urgent call to governments and development partners to mobilize resources to address above critical issues faced by women and Youth SMES, to avoid complete collapse in the coming months, which will have many consequences on livelihoods.