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550 West Van Buren Street
Chicago, IL 60607

Toll Free: 1-800-793-9455

© 2020 Opportunity Internationala 501(c)3 nonprofit. EIN: 540907624.

Where We Work Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) is one of the most populous countries in Africa and one of its poorest. Nearly three in four people live on less than $1.90 per day, representing one of the largest populations in the world living in extreme poverty. Women and girls especially face systemic discrimination and ostracism—the United Nations consistently scores DR Congo as one of the lowest in terms of gender equality. The lack of formal economic opportunities, combined with the legacy of entrenched political conflicts and instability, as well as high rates of malnutrition, illness, and poor education, make the DR Congo one of the hardest places on earth to raise a family.

DR Congo by the Numbers

  • 84.1M total population
  • 55% of the population lives in rural areas
  • 69% of the workforce is employed in agriculture
  • 72% of people live on less than $1.90 per day
  • 18% have an account at a financial institution, and only 3% of women currently use formal loans to grow their enterprises
  • 45% of children complete primary education,
  • 43% of children are malnourished
  • 43% of households have access to drinking water
  • 20% of households have access to sanitation

Opportunity in the DR Congo

In the DR Congo, a country already facing extremely high poverty rates, women and youth have disproportionate challenges stemming from cultural norms, discrimination, and high birth rates. 

Women have trouble accessing the financing and training they need to establish and grow income-earning businesses. In addition, schools have not kept pace with population growth, leaving many young people without the opportunity to pursue an education or learn the skills they need to succeed.

In response, Opportunity chose the DR Congo as one of the first places to establish an Opportunity Zone and is focused on key interventions including:

  1. Creating viable economic opportunities in agriculture, especially for women, to help them build sustainable livelihoods.
    We connect smallholder farmers, mostly women, to agricultural loans so they can grow their farms. We also fund ongoing training services to help women learn good agricultural, financial, and business practices. And we connect farmers to agricultural support services, especially buyers who will purchase their crops at a fair market price.

  2. Providing funding and training to job-creating businesses.
    In partnership with VisionFund DRC, we provide small group business loans and training, focusing on low-income women. We also facilitate larger ($1,000 or more) loans to entrepreneurs ready to provide jobs for their neighbors. Our digital financial inclusion team is working to help us achieve these goals by making bank accounts, savings alerts, and training available digitally.

  3. Creating opportunities for those who are not yet economically productive, especially youth and those in savings groups looking to launch a business.
    With Congo Leadership Initiative, we are providing in-depth leadership and business training for young people who are interested in establishing businesses for themselves. Youth will also receive start-up loans to launch their businesses. Our EduFinance team is actively working to launch education loans in the DR Congo as soon as possible.

Meet Danny

Danny Mbuila runs a small shop in the Liberty Market in Kinshasa, DRC. He didn’t earn enough to feed his family and grow his business, and he was denied a loan from a local bank because of his low income.

Then a friend told him about Opportunity, and he met with a loan officer. He received training and financial support, invested his loans in his business, and doubled his shop’s revenue. Best of all, he saved enough to pursue his dream: marrying Carine, the mother of his three children. “I felt more esteem as a father in front of the community and in front of my children,” Danny says, “because I could make my union with their mother official and bring more respect to her from the community and her family.”

Danny’s economic success has enabled him to pay his children’s school fees, give Carine startup capital for her own small business, pay for his mother’s surgery, and move from a one-room house to a three-room home.  His goal is to sell his goods in a large shop and buy land for his family. He says, “I have a sense of hope for a better life for my children.”

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