Vitas Group COVID-19 Impact Survey Report

The COVID-19 crisis has severely impacted the business community around the world. Small businesses in developing economies have been hit particularly hard. Countries like Iraq and Lebanon were experiencing social and political unrest as the pandemic struck, while Jordan and Palestine were already facing economic recessions, further compounding their problems.

This report summarizes the results of a COVID-19 client survey among Vitas Group network institutions. Surveys were conducted in May 2020 with clients in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Romania, where Vitas served a combined 90,298 active clients and an outstanding portfolio of $231 million as of March 30, 2020.

Vitas interviewed a total of 607 clients across the six institutions to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic at the individual business and household levels. One of the biggest worries for small business owners across these geographies was losing their livelihoods and being forced to close down their businesses after experiencing a dramatic drop in income. Approximately 72 percent of surveyed borrowers in Iraq and 71 percent of those interviewed in Lebanon were most concerned about the economic impact and their ability to continue to earn an income to support their families.

Adapting the survey from The COVID-19 Client Interview Tool available on the Social Performance Taskforce (SPTF) website, Vitas interviewed clients from various business types and sectors from the active portfolio. Interviewees were selected at random. The main objectives of this survey were to understand which clients are struggling and require the most attention. Vitas surveyors also sought to learn more about borrowers who currently have sufficient income to survive the short term, but may require additional services in the future. Data gleaned from the survey adds to the body of information for policy makers, regulators, investors and donors with whom Vitas and other Microfinance Providers (MFPs) are actively engaging for the ultimate benefit of clients