Annie Nyangomba at the bank
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.