FINCA DRC Hits the Home Stretch of the Financial Inclusion Project

This article first appeared on FINCA Canada’s website.

Over the last six years, the Financial Inclusion Project has promoted economic prosperity for low-income women and men in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Haiti by providing them with equal access to financial services, education and training practices necessary to achieve financial resilience. In partnership with the Government of Canada, FINCA Canada’s Financial Inclusion Project has continued to provide insightful research and analysis into the challenges faced by both women and men toward the accessibility to financial literacy within impoverished nations. In June, FINCA Canada launched the Financial Inclusion Project’s year six mid-year report, highlighting this year’s project milestones with only six months of the project remaining.

Empowering through financial services and training

In December 2022, FINCA Canada concluded activities in Haiti due to ongoing security concerns throughout the country. Great strides were made to improve the financial health of thousands of clients, and the financial literacy training will continue to benefit trainees, the current civil unrest has made it unsafe to continue project activities. To maximize the impact of the project, unspent project funds were reallocated to FINCA DRC, enabling them to further deepen their activities and progress toward project targets in the first half of the year.

As a result, the project in the DRC progressed as planned, and FINCA DRC managed to make remarkable progress and exceed project targets in just six months. The introduction of the “Juste Pour Elle” loan product launched in March 2021 proved successful, benefiting 2,178 women entrepreneurs who received a total of USD 27.3 million in loans. In an impressive display of progress, the project achieved remarkable results over the past six months, surpassing end-of-project targets for financial literacy and digital banking training for both clients and non-clients. With the conclusion of the project just six months away, there is ample opportunity for further advancements with the results achieved thus far.

Other key milestones in the DRC include:

  • Enhanced the financial literacy training within eight regions: the DRC continued to deliver training to community groups in various regions, using venues such as universities, churches, and community centers. So far, FINCA DRC has trained a total of 42,470 individuals (non-clients) in financial literacy and digital banking, which is more than triple the end-of-project target of 13,200 individuals trained.
  • Accomplished financial literacy education for female non-clients: Within the first six months of this year, FINCA DRC continued to exceed the end-of-project target with respect to the number of female non-clients trained in financial literacy. In March, FINCA DRC had trained 2,978, contributing to a cumulative total of 31,374.
  • Achieved progress in savings education: Despite challenges due to loan write-offs and economic difficulties, FINCA DRC managed to increase savings, with the average balance reaching 174 USD, highlighting the positive saving habits of women.
  • Increased mobile banking participation: As of March 2023, FINCA DRC had 151,555 active mobile savings clients, representing an increase since the March 2022 result of 143,276. This success has been attributed to the launch of the “kindergarten” program to ensure digital customers open both online and in-person financial services.

Harnessing momentum at the mid-year mark

As we step into the home stretch of the project, it’s important to acknowledge that the Financial Inclusion Project’s journey in DRC, and previously in Haiti, has been marked by various monumental outcomes. While insecurity forced the suspension of activities in Haiti, the project in the DRC thrived despite economic challenges. It is empowering to see that FINCA DRC surpassed expectations amongst its various programs, including loan disbursements, financial literacy training, savings goals and more. These achievements accomplished so far this year and the various targets exceeded highlight the importance of adapting to the unique circumstances of each country when striving for financial inclusion.

Although the project faced disruptions out of its control over the years, such as the global pandemic, natural disasters, political disputes and more, the resilience and dedication demonstrated by FINCA Canada, in partnership with the Government of Canada, emphasize the transformative potential behind the advocacy of financial inclusion throughout impoverished nations as we continue to inspire individuals and foster economic prosperity.