An Update on Kiva Partners Affected by the Ebola Epidemic
The Ebola epidemic continues to have a widespread human and economic toll in West Africa. More than 4,900 people have died and fear of the disease continues to hamper economic activity.
Kiva’s Field Partners in Sierra Leone and Liberia have been affected in many ways. Some have had to close branches and shutdown operations temporarily. Tragically, all our partners in the regions report they have heard of borrowers who have passed due to Ebola.
All of Kiva’s partners in Sierra Leone and Liberia have also seen an increase in delinquency rates as a result of the crisis. Borrowers’ businesses are facing a very difficult operating environment because of government-instituted bans on travel to certain areas, blockades, checkpoints in many places, and the resulting panic and fear among people. Additionally, staff members are not able to consistently follow up on loans through onsite visits with borrowers.
In light of the crisis, Kiva continues to work with all Field Partners in Sierra Leone and Liberia to determine an appropriate and flexible repayment plan considering the realities of the current situation. We have given all Field Partners in the affected region a four-month grace period until the end of the year, which means we will not be receiving any repayments for any outstanding loans from these Field Partners during this time frame. We will review the situation in January 2015 to determine the most appropriate course of action at that time.
We’ve received many generous requests from lenders asking if they can forgive their portion of the loan. While forgiving loans in cases where the borrower is deeply affected is the appropriate course of action, our Field Partners continue to operate in some areas that have been less affected by Ebola. In cases where the borrower is still willing and able to repay, forgiving loans could be detrimental to both the borrower’s ability to access credit in the future and to the Field Partners’ ability to continue regular operations. We trust our Field Partners to identify which borrowers are still able to repay their loans on time, which will need their loans restructured, and which will be completely unable to repay and should have their loans written off. We have encouraged our Field Partners to identify which borrowers are in need of such interventions.
If you’d like to support efforts to contain the crisis, you can learn more about the work of certain organizations working to combat the outbreak here. If you are interested in learning more about organizations working to improve overall economic opportunities in the region, we encourage you to read about the work of our five Field Partners in the region: ARD, SMT, BRAC Sierra Leone, BRAC Liberia, and Sjedi Green Energy.
We sincerely thank our lenders for your support during this time, and we are continuing to send our thoughts and prayers to our Field Partners working in the region to improve the livelihoods of their borrowers.