The Time to Invest in Entrepreneurs in East Africa is Now!

November 22, 2021

COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on emerging market nations from a public health and economic perspective. According to a new study by the UN Development Programme, an additional 207 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty by 2030,  bringing the total number to more than a billion. (1)

The pandemic has created an economic downturn that is having a disproportionate impact on lower-income nations. Nightly curfews, periodic lockdowns, reduction of demand, and enormous losses in revenue in sectors like tourism, restaurants, and recreation, pose daunting threats to families, businesses, and churches.  Thankfully, entrepreneurs in these markets are resilient and have faced pandemics, natural disasters, and political upheaval before. They know how to survive hardship. 

As governments in East Africa warn of a fifth wave of the pandemic, the cumulative effects of the past 20 months are palpable. For many families and entrepreneurs, economic reserves are at an all-time low. More businesses are laying off staff as their revenue streams have eroded. Many of our alumni are fighting just to keep their doors open. Sinapis has been responding to this through new interventions like the Crisis Crash Course, pivoting our training to digital delivery, and enhancing our alumni network through peer-to-peer contact and new ways of spiritual support.

As we look ahead to 2022, we have hope and optimism that COVID-19 will dissipate. Yet, there is a new threat on the horizon. Every five years, Kenya hosts a national election. Historically, this causes a sharp pullback in the economy as businesses and consumers wait to see what a new administration brings. This uncertainty freezes spending and investment.  

Sinapis East Africa Regional Director, Yvette Ondachi, shares her insights as an entrepreneur who experienced those hardships personally during the last election and why training is essential to navigating the next 8-9 months. >> Overcoming the Impending Risks of an Election Year in Kenya

Kenya also faces a backdrop of election-related violence. In 2008, more than 1,000 Kenyans were killed because of unrest following a disputed election. Thankfully, the most recent election in 2016 was peaceful, though the Supreme Court annulled the initial results due to evidence of persistent fraud. But the economic impact of months of uncertainty was significant. Local partners and leaders expect 5-6 months of significant economic slowdown prior to the August 2022 election. This challenge combined with the ongoing impact of COVID  is likely to do significant harm to the companies that communities depend on for income and hope. 

How can you help? 

We are launching a fundraising campaign to boost our Sinapis Scholarship Fund. This initiative is aimed at proactively equipping as many entrepreneurs as possible to weather the storm and create thriving business models that can emerge once these crises pass. Your support makes it possible for us to provide additional scholarships to entrepreneurs who need new skills, community, and access to capital.  New gifts also will make it possible for us to work with local pastors who are becoming bi-vocational in response to the crisis.  Local churches face intense pressure from reduced giving and are looking for long-term strategies to ensure pastors can provide for their families and support the growth of the church. 

Rev. Edward Ondachi offers some historical context and perspective from a pastoral perspective for Sinapis. >> The Five Year Cycle

You can be an active change agent in this process by:

  1. Prayer. Join us in asking the Lord to protect the most vulnerable. Pray that Kingdom entrepreneurs will depend on Him and will have supernatural wisdom and strength to persevere.
  2. Give. The entrepreneurs we support are launching and growing for-profit businesses. They create and sustain jobs, which is the best way to alleviate poverty. When their companies reach profitability, they have the potential for sustainable impact for decades to come. However, most cannot afford to pay market rates for our services. This is why we structured Sinapis as a non-profit organization. Philanthropic capital makes it possible for us to offer scholarships that make a catalytic difference, especially in times of crisis. 

Your generosity empowers us to help entrepreneurs achieve amazing results. The average growth rate in revenues (CAGR) for Sinapis alumni is 37% and is 81% in the first year after training. Sinapis alumni employ over 7,650 people, which impacts the lives of over 38,000 dependents.  82% of Sinapis alumni have an active discipleship or community impact program in their company, and 37% have reported that someone has come to faith in Christ through their company. 

Would you consider making a year-end gift to support an entrepreneur like James Nayamai and Carolyne, two graduates that received scholarships who have gone to win our 2021 Business Competition? Sinapis has recently received a $100,000 matching gift which ensures that your contribution will have double the impact and allow us to meet the need now and into the year as we work to equip those that God has called to create and sustain companies that make such a difference in the hardest places. 

(1)  US Global Leadership Coalition,

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