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Equity CEO offers Sh300m personal donation to boost Covid kitty

April 2020 BusinessDaily; Equity Group   CEO James Mwangi is donating Sh300 million to aid in the country’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, making the payout the largest philanthropic personal gift by a Kenyan to be made public.

Dr Mwangi’s donation is part of efforts to raise Sh1.1 billion for purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline medical staff.

The Mastercard Foundation is providing Sh500 million while Equity Group Foundation – the bank’s philanthropic arm — is contributing Sh300 million.

Mastercard and Equity Group have been long-time partners in business and charity, teaming up to offer debit and credit cards and funding the education of needy leaners in schools and universities.

Dr Mwangi, a billionaire, holds most of his wealth in Equity Group’s shares, and is one of the richest people in Kenya. The value of his family’s stake in the Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firm once peaked at Sh12 billion in late 2014 and is now valued at about Sh9 billion.

Equity is set to pay him a dividend of Sh471 million, more than enough to cover his Sh300 million pledge. He also earns about Sh60 million per year as the bank’s Group CEO.

The CEO’s personal donation is higher than the amounts given by corporate entities including Safaricom, KCB Group and Co-op Bank, which have committed Sh200 million, Sh150 million and Sh100 million to the cause respectively.

The family of the late Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) governor Philip Ndegwa is also on the short list of wealthy individuals that have made significant contributions to fight the disease. Through their investment vehicle, First Chartered Securities, the Ndegwa family committed Sh25 million to the Kenya Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund.

Narendra Raval was the first Kenyan billionaire to support the emergency fund after donating Sh100 million worth of oxygen to all government hospitals through his Devki Steel Mills factories.

Dr Mwangi said the idea to make the donation was sparked when he was made aware of efforts by a group of students and doctors to raise funds for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for post-graduate students at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).

“When I shared the need with my family, a robust discussion revealed the urgency to holistically address the issue as it was not prudent to provide the PPE’s to students without also focusing on the plight of the doctors, nurses, clinical officers, and medical staff,” he said in a statement. “We invited the CEO of the Kenya Medical Association and a group of doctors from KNH and University of Nairobi where we established the need for PPE’s for medical staff handling Covid-19 patients in the country. A team of seven was formed to help structure this initiative.”

Dr Mwangi is a member of Kenya’s Covid-19 Emergency Fund Board, a group comprising business leaders that is tasked with raising funds to combat the disease.

Equity Group Foundation will work in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund in the endeavour.

“This will ensure a co-ordinated effort on the national priorities of combating the pandemic, reap the benefits of economies of scale, maximise resource allocation and avoid duplication of efforts in the provision of PPEs,” the foundation said in a statement.

Fighting the disease requires enormous resources, including acquisition of PPE stocks, ventilators, sanitisers and hospital beds.

The Kenya Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund recently disclosed it had raised more than Sh1.2 billion in cash and in kind, largely from private companies.

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