Kenyans’ interest in business loans significantly spiked in March based on queries logged on search engine platform Google. According to the data from the Google Trends tool, between the first week of January, this year and the week of March 15 -21, the searches related to business loans grew by 112.76%.
During the first week of the year, the searches attained a popularity score of 47 and by the week of March 15 -21, the searches hit the peak popularity score of 100. After the March peak, the searches dropped by 58% to attain a score of 42 in the week of March 22 -28. This year, the searches hit the lowest during the week of March 24-30 when the popularity score stood at 0. By the following week, the interest in business loans rose to 48.
Over the last 12 months, a notable spike in queries on business loans was during the week of October 13- 19 last year, when the popularity score stood at 85.
Coronavirus pandemic spurs interest in business loans
From the data, it is worth mentioning that the interest hit 100 in mid-March, a period when the economy was down and many people were laid off. During this period, many employees went on unpaid leaves indefinitely.
With many people staying at home, informal businesses closed as the consumption rate witnessed declines. It can be assumed that businesses were looking for loans to help them remain afloat. At the same time, individuals who had lost their jobs were looking for loans to start businesses as an alternative form of earning a living during the COVID-19 pandemic period.
Government measures to cushion the economy against Covid 19 impact
During this period, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a raft of measures to cushion individuals and businesses against the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
For example, the Kenya Revenue Authority was directed to expedite the payment of all verified VAT refund claims amounting to 10B to improve cash flows for the business. Many economic experts, however, called on the state to increase measures of cushioning businesses.
There were calls for the government to grant tax breaks to companies seeking to increase their capacity to produce import substitute goods. Banks were called upon to give concessionary loans at low rates to facilitate businesses, and as well provide moratoriums on loans that are due. Additionally, there was a need for providing a Business Stabilization Fund to cushion the impact of the coronavirus, especially for Small & Medium Enterprises (SME’s).
On the Google Trends platforms, numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. A score of 0 means there was not enough data for this term.