Digital Food Baskets Will Accelerate Efforts to Flatten COVID-19 Curve


Digital food baskets will help Kenya flatten the COVID-19 curve by ensuring poor households continue to get uninterrupted food supply when their breadwinners lose a source of income or are forced to survive on a pay cut.

Apptivate Africa Chief Executive officer, Neil Ribeiro said current restriction of movement has made it difficult for many households to put food on the table making them susceptible to infections on account of low nutrient intake and reduced immunity.

“While social distancing, hand washing, curfews, and quarantine can flatten the curve, We must also consider the role food and nutrients play in boosting immunity and help people especially in depressed households to fight the virus,” said Mr Ribeiro.

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He said promoting healthy eating using technology could make a bigger difference in containing the virus on a national scale.

According to a tweet by the Ministry of Helth, Eating healthy can help protect your body from COVID19,  they advise everyone to avoid processed food, alcohol and smoking, limit sugar, eat plant-based whole food, and enough protein.

Apptivate Africa, a company keen on employee wellness and motivation schemes through a mobile phone-based solution, has developed a conditional voucher for essential goods to help employees with reduced pay and vulnerable households to meet daily food needs and cope with COVID-19 Shocks.

The voucher, M-Kapu complements government efforts of controlling the spread of the virus by allowing employers, government, religious organizations, individual donors, and non-governmental organizations to seamlessly fund and distribute essential food items to needy households through a digital wallet.

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It allows organizations to create dedicated accounts for employees and other beneficiaries, set food value limits that can be redeemed in food stores and supermarkets, and Jumia food countrywide.

“We have negotiated special baskets with Jumia, Tuskys, and Chandarana Food Plus countrywide with an in-store pick-up or home delivery option.  This will ensure that households can get this benefit without a logistical headache,” said Ribeiro.

Vouchers can be for any value to purchase household essentials like cooking oil, toiletries, milk, and dry foods like rice and sugar. It is estimated that a family of 4 will need between Ksh 4000 and 8000 for a month of essentials.

Organizations can create  M-Kapu accounts for their employees, upload a list of beneficiaries, and assign voucher value limits of between Sh100 and Sh28,000 to the beneficiaries. Beneficiaries can transact at approved merchants countrywide based on their assigned limits settled by employers, individuals donors, and other organizations through Apptivate.

Businesses with reduced revenues, who are probably thinking about how they will keep the business going for anywhere between four months and a year are highly recommended to subscribe to M-Kapu to boost the morale and immunity of staff on unpaid leave.

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Ribeiro argues that food and rent are the two key expenses that an employee, who has agreed to go on unpaid leave, will continue to incur.   While the payment of rent could be negotiated or delayed, food is a basic human need.

“When your business turns and you want the employees to come back to work, you want to make sure that they are loyal, healthy, and motivated.   Ensuring that they and their families do not go hungry is one way to accomplish this,” said Mr. Ribeiro.

A study by BFA global shows that Kenyans will be able to survive for between 2 to 6 weeks without pay.  Over 80% of Kenyan respondents in the study reported decreased incomes and the expectation of significant adverse effects on financial well-being. The majority of the respondents (94 percent) said food topped their list of immediate needs followed by Healthcare (55 percent), Money for other essentials (38 percent) and rent (36 Percent).

M-Kapu wallets can only be used to buy items other than alcohol and tobacco to ensure it is strictly used for food.

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