Grand Opening Today of Opportunity DR Congo: Expanding Microfinance to One of World’s Most Impoverished Countries
Today at 10:00 a.m. local time, Opportunity International celebrated the grand opening of Opportunity Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the capital city of Kinshasa, expanding our network of microfinance institutions to the Congo.
The grand opening ceremony was attended by local government officials and dignitaries, Opportunity representatives from the DRC and the United States, as well as donors, supporters and clients. Among the presenters at the grand opening were UNDP Country Director Adama Guindo and Central Bank of the Congo Governor Jean-Claude Masangu Mulongo. Also presenting and welcoming the honored guests were Opportunity DRC CEO Gilbert Lagaillarde; Kadita “A.T.” Tshibaka, a Congolese native and member of Opportunity’s Board of Directors; and Opportunity International Africa Chairman Francis Pelekamoyo.
Lagaillarde addressed the crowd, saying: “We are pleased to share in this momentous occasion with those of you who have gathered here today. Opportunity International has been laying the groundwork for several years now to open here in the DRC, and it is gratifying to see all of this hard work come to fruition. We are especially grateful for those who have supported us in the endeavor, and proud to now begin providing Congolese citizens with access to safe and affordable financial services.”
Within its first three years of operation, Opportunity DRC expects to mobilize US $4.7 million from 24,000 depositors, and disburse more than 47,000 small business loans. During that time period, Opportunity DRC also expects to add four full-service branches to meet the needs of the people working their way out of poverty.
About the Congo
With an estimated population of 71 million, the DRC is the third largest country in Africa, and among the 20 most populous countries in the world. Offering an abundance of natural resources, the DRC is spread across nearly one million square miles, making it roughly the same geographic size as all of Western Europe. Despite its vast population and national resources, it is also one of the most impoverished countries in the world, with a per capita GDP ranking of 227. Currently, only 1% of the DRC’s citizens have access to basic financial services.
Speaking on behalf of the Central Bank of the Congo, Mulongo said: “I am proud for the great strides that the DRC has made in overcoming inflation, boosting growth, and stabilizing the Congolese franc, but we still have much to accomplish. The establishment of Opportunity International’s network of microfinance institutions here in the DRC is an important step toward improving the economic prosperity of our citizens, and I am excited about the impact that improved access to financial services will have on the growth of our economy and the expansion of commerce within the DRC.”
For more details on our grand opening celebration, check out our press release here. At Opportunity, everyone on our global staff is looking forward to helping the Congolese people create change in their lives through microfinance and we can’t wait to see their progress in the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned to our blog and our Facebook page for more updates on the clients and exciting work of Opportunity DRC.