The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, together with The MasterCard Foundation, today 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.
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.”
IFC is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Working with 2,000 businesses worldwide, we use our six decades of experience to create opportunity where it’s needed most. In FY16, our long-term investments in developing countries rose to nearly $19 billion, leveraging our capital, expertise and influence to help the private sector end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity.
The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training, and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest private foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by Mastercard when the Foundation was created in 2006.
The FINCA Microfinance Holding Company is a network of 21 microfinance institutions and banks that provide socially responsible financial services that enable low-income individuals and communities to invest in the future. The majority owner of the network is FINCA International, a microfinance and social enterprise leader dedicated to creating economic inclusion for the poor.
The Partnership for Financial Inclusion is a $37.4 million joint initiative of IFC and The MasterCard Foundation to expand microfinance and advance digital financial services in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is also supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Development Bank of Austria, OeEB. Launched in 2011, the seven-year program works with microfinance institutions, banks, mobile network operators and payment service providers across the continent to increase financial inclusion.