Opportunity Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) celebrated its grand opening on May 19th in the capital city of Kinshasa. Since Opportunity International‘s arrival in the DRC, we’ve seen marked changes in the lives of the Congolese people. Opportunity DRC is extending much-needed microfinance products in a country where only 1% of the population has access to basic financial services. To date, over 690 Opportunity DRC clients have already received loans to grow their businesses. Two-thirds of our loan recipients are women and the average loan is around $190. One of the first microfinance institutions to use biometric fingerprint technology in the Congo, Opportunity enables clients who don’t have formal identification to securely access their financial information.
As Opportunity DRC CEO Gilbert Lagaillarde explains, financial training is a key part of providing financial services to clients. “There is a critical need to orient clients to the dynamics of group lending. Clients who expressed disappointment by other loan providers said they didn’t fully understand all aspects of group lending, which led to a lack of trust.” That’s why Opportunity DRC educates each and every client on the services they provide, so that they can get the most out of their loans, effectively breaking free of the limitations of poverty.
Currently, Opportunity DRC has a staff of 32–11 of whom are loan officers. The staff, comprised mostly of university graduates, is subjected to a rigorous recruitment process. Recently, five women graduated from the Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women Emerging Leaders Program. This program provided the women with the knowledge and skills they needed to become training managers. One of these women, Nadine Nzenza Pembele, is currently a training officer but aims to continue her education and eventually earn a position as a Human Resource Manager. She has vowed to do her part to make Opportunity the premiere microfinance institution in the DRC, making a difference in the lives of her fellow Congolese citizens.
Since launching our operations, Opportunity DRC has distributed hundreds of loans and has provided in-depth financial training along with each one. In the future, Opportunity DRC will secure its deposit-taking license to begin accepting savings deposits, and they plan to open more branches in Kinshasa.