Mercy Corps Youth Impact Labs microgrant support for MSMEs in Kenya

Mercy Corps Youth Impact Labs
3 min readAug 26, 2020
Sky.Garden merchant

Nairobi, Kenya, 26th August 2020 — Mercy Corps Youth Impact Labs launches microgrant support targeting 350 digital MSMEs to cushion them against the adverse effects of Covid-19. Since March 2020, when the pandemic hit Kenya, MSMEs have faced multiple risks that have affected their business continuity. Social distancing, a government directive with the aim of curbing the virus spread, has limited foot traffic to the MSMEs brick and mortar stores while people and goods movement restrictions earlier imposed, led to inventory shortfalls. As a result, these businesses have opted to move to digital marketplaces that are currently gaining traction given the increased demand from customers who are working remotely.

Through an analysis conducted by Youth Impact Labs that sampled MSMEs operating on e-commerce platform Sky.Garden, findings indicate that digital marketing campaigns are effective tools guaranteeing revenue growth. Merchants who had earlier invested in digital campaigns on the platform, over the last month, had experienced an 83% increase in revenue on average. Based on the analysis, Youth Impact Labs leaned towards digital marketing grant support to enhance sales and increase the ROI for the merchants.

In conjunction with Sky.Garden, each merchant will receive KES 10,000 worth of grant which will be disbursed in form of Sky Coins (Sky.Garden’s Sky.Coins are in-app currency rewards that can be used within the Sky Garden’s Seller Center and Merchant App to add products to Premium Campaigns, but cannot be withdrawn into cash). This amount is aimed at facilitating paid marketing campaigns via the Sky Garden platform. Mercy Corps believes in empowering the MSMEs to make the optimum decision about the growth of their enterprises and this means that the merchants will have the liberty to use the funds to market their preferred products. In order to support the merchants to effectively market their products, Sky.Garden will facilitate training on Facebook advertising through its platform. Thereafter, the merchants will track the return on investment to ensure maximum benefit.

The microgrant support to MSMEs follows the working capital and cash transfer support by Youth Impact Labs to its partners and gig workers, respectively. Partners who received the working capital worth USD 50,000 utilized the funds to; enhance survival during the pandemic and enable recovery post-COVID-19; ensure a consistent balance between supply and demand and enable the businesses to drive tangible solutions following the crisis. The gig workers who received KES 10,000 each, utilized the funds to cover pending rent arrears, purchase food, pay for electricity bills, and for some, start small businesses. Mercy Corps continues to develop pandemic-proof cushioning systems to shield entrepreneurs, informal workers, and marginalized groups in society.

About Mercy Corps Youth Impact Labs

Catalyzed by funding from, Mercy Corps’ Youth Impact Labs (YIL) identifies and tests creative, technology-enabled solutions to tackle global youth unemployment, accelerating job creation, so every young person has the opportunity for dignified, purposeful work. In Kenya, YIL focuses on digital marketplaces and platforms that offer services to micro and small businesses; agricultural supply chain management; and digital work.

The program supports these enterprises through financial and technical support, issued in the form of milestone-based grants. Through our post-investment support, on-boarded partners also get access to advisory services to support the development of technology solutions and tailored business support service to actualize scale.

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Mercy Corps Youth Impact Labs

Funded by, Youth Impact Labs identifies and tests creative, tech-enabled solutions to tackle global youth unemployment and accelerate job creation