The FINANCIAL -- IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, together with The MasterCard Foundation, on January 17 announced a cooperation agreement valued at $1 million with microfinance institution FINCA in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Under the agreement, FINCA will expand access to credit and digital financial services for low-income people and small-scale entrepreneurs.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has made great strides in increasing financial inclusion in recent years, yet less than 11 percent of adults in the DRC have an account with a formal financial institution, and only 2 percent have access to formal and regulated credit services. Such financial exclusion can be a significant constraint on individual and overall economic development, according to IFC.
While mainstream commercial banks in the DRC almost exclusively serve large corporate clients, FINCA DRC focuses on providing financial services to small-scale entrepreneurs that constitute the largest part of the informal economy. FINCA DRC currently is the largest microfinance institution in the Democratic Republic of Congo, operating in four regions of the country through a network of 20 branches and 900 FINCA eXpress agents. About half of its 256,000 customers are women.
Andrée Simon, CEO of FINCA Microfinance Holding Company, said, “FINCA is dedicated to providing access to responsible and affordable financial services to low-income Congolese. This initiative will propel FINCA to better leverage the power of digital technology and put banking in the hands of our customers, no matter where they live.”
IFC will provide advisory services for two years to help FINCA DRC strengthen its ability to offer access to credit for customers and to expand its mobile banking operations to increase its reach by 200,000 new clients. The project is part of the Partnership for Financial Inclusion, a joint initiative of IFC and The MasterCard Foundation to expand microfinance and advance digital financial services in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Riadh Naouar, head of IFC Financial Industry Group Advisory Services in Africa, said, “It is exciting to see how FINCA has already begun to transform the financial landscape in the Democratic Republic of Congo with a ground-breaking mobile banking solution. Access to financial services for all is a cornerstone of inclusive economic growth and development.”