In this country, roughly the geographical size of Europe and plagued by war, economic instability and corruption, an Opportunity International financial institution can help to make the difference between families being able to afford only three meals per week to families being able to afford three meals per day.
The people of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have suffered greatly over the past 40 years. Ethnic conflict and a civil war between government troops and rebel groups in Eastern Congo have contributed to high levels of poverty. Only 1 percent of the DRC’s citizens have access to basic financial services. Fortunately, recent economic liberalization has opened up opportunities that will allow sustainable economic growth to gain a foothold.Here are some of the recent accomplishments of our operations in the DRC.
Thank you for all of your support for our DRC operations since 2011. 24 out of 25 of the worlds poorest countries are in Africa. In order to have the largest impact on this region, we would like to combine this project into a broader "Banking on Africa, 7660" project. This project spans multiple countries including - Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, and Uganda. This project has the same mission and vision of #7928 which is to provide access to financial solutions empowering people living in poverty to transform their lives, their children’s futures and their communities. If you have any questions about our work in Kenya and the rest of Africa or our decision to combine projects please email us at email@example.com
Denied by other banks, Danny Mbuila went in search of a partner he could trust to help him grow his shelving business in Kinshasa’s Liberty Market. Shortly after meeting with loan officer Esperance Nsarhaza, he joined Opportunity DRC’s Trust Group “Vanqueurs” which translates to, “Winners”. Danny began training and received his first microloan eight weeks later.
“I now earn $30 to $40 each day and can feed my family and grow my business,” says Danny. “I have also used the income to pay school fees and move from a one-room to a three-room home.” One year after joining Opportunity, Danny used his increased capital to pursue another dream: to marry Carine, the mother of his three children. “I gained more esteem from the community and especially from my children by making my union with their mother official. It also brought Carine more respect from her family. In my heart, she has always been my wife, but the $3,500 to make it legal was impossible for us to overcome. Until now.”
“I recently helped Carine start her own business; seeing her fulfill her dream brought me a great deal of happiness.” Danny has his own dream to move his business from his market stall to a storefront shop and eventually buy land for his family. “Today, I have a sense of hope for a better life for my children,” he says.
Because of inspiring stories like Danny’s we are very pleased to announce the April 2013 launch of Opportunity DRC’s third branch, this one in Matete, a bustling Kinshasa-area market. This new branch will allow us to help even more men and women like Danny.
Opportunity DRC program statistics:
Annie Nyangomba is a 38-year-old mother of two who lives in Kinshasa, DR Congo. She smiles as she holds out her finger to be read biometrically at the Kinshasa branch of Opportunity‘s newest microfinance operations, Opportunity DRC. With support from the UNCDF and you, it’s one of the few places in the developing world offering this powerful technology, which requires only a fingerprint-embedded ID card to access an account. Even clients who are illiterate or lack formal ID gain control over their finances, some for the first time ever.
“Since 1996,” Annie Nyangomba says, “I was selling sweet potatoes in the main road and in the Masina Market. I was earning $10 daily and $260 per month, not enough to rent a house and feed my two children–Esther, eight, and Ephraim, seven–and pay their school fees. I was informed by my friend Miss Mwamba, a client of Opportunity DRC, that I could have the loan I needed to expand my business.” Since joining Opportunity, Annie’s income has risen 20% and she receives business training and advice from her loan officer, Pelagie Kawadio.
Annie didn’t want to open an account at a bank before because she thought it would be too expensive. But now that she has, she says she feels more secure and recognized. “Now I get more respect,” she says, ”and I hope to see my social life change. I feel more secure for the future of my children.” Annie’s goal today is to be financially independent and to open her own wholesale supply in the market. But her transformation is not merely financial. “I especially have a sense of hope. It’s like God is giving me a second chance to change my life.”
Annie’s story is inspiring, but it’s not unusual. By the one-year anniversary of Opportunity DRC’s grand opening, more than 5,000 Congolese clients had received over 8,000 loans to grow local businesses and increase their incomes, not only empowering them to help their families, but strengthens the local economy as well. In addition to loans, clients receive extensive training in business management, leadership skills and personal development, enabling them to improve their lives economically and socially. Opportunity has opened our second Kinshasa branch in the local Gambela marketplace, expanding to reach more of the local community. Through biometric identification we’re able to access women with their first-ever access to formal banking. Today, approximately 66% of Opportunity DRC’s clients are women.
In addition to financial literacy business training, personal development comprises five modules covering topics such as: basic health issues, impact of health on business, HIV/AIDS, malaria and cholera. The training has been designed in collaboration with the Biamba Marie Mutombo hospital founded by retired NBA star Dikembe Mutombo. During the pilot 1,200 clients have been trained by doctors from the hospital. Our loan officers are being trained by the hospital to take over delivering the modules. One client recently reported to a visitor that she improved both her family’s hygiene and the cleanliness at her business with frequent and effective hand washing.
The second phase of training is being developed to include discussions around pregnancy and childhood nutrition. The training is in the local language, Lingala, and very relevant to life in Kinshasa. For example, lessons on nutrition use examples of the local food rather than general food pyramid examples.
Meet Helene: Opportunity Gambela branch client
Helene lives in Kinshasa and operates a business in the Gambela marketplace. A born entrepreneur, Helene is a true inspiration as she faces head-on the daily struggles associated with supporting a family of eleven amidst the unrelenting cycle of dire poverty in the DR Congo. Not only does she support her four children but she has also taken on five orphans. “BEFORE, I could not send the children to school and two or three times per week the entire family went to sleep with only tea. TODAY, thanks to Opportunity, I offer my children better nutrition plus schooling for two of the older children so far.” When asked her dreams for the future, Helene responded, “To have the ability to assist more orphans within our church. May God bless my loan Officer, Kanku and Opportunity because they allowed God to answer my prayer for my own family and for His orphans that He gives me to love.”
Gambela branch spotlight: first nine months of operations
Through your generosity, Opportunity opened the doors in the Gambela marketplace area of Kinshasa, DR Congo with the launch of its second branch. As of June 30, 2012, the branch has loans to 2,349 hardworking entrepreneurs, nearly triple from 822 in March, who now go to market each day armed with the capital, training and support they need to stand out amidst a sea of grassroots business operators. You are funding Opportunity’s Trust Group model through which entrepreneurs are being transformed into successful business proprietors who are filled with pride of ownership and a new sense of hope in their ability to build a future filled with the same dreams and aspirations for their children as we do for ours.
Group members are reaping the benefits of robust financial literacy training, support and mentoring along with access to new skills to manage the risks associated with poverty while vastly improving quality of life for their families and communities. Because of you, men and women in Gambela are holding their heads a little higher and clients like Helene literally have a bit more to feed their children tonight while they dream of their first day of school tomorrow.
Here is where the Gambela branch is as of June 30, 2012 against its 2012 year-end goals:
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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